Forti’s pizza dough recipe, in celebration of mio padre Giovanni Mazzone

Forti’s pizza dough recipe, in celebration of mio padre Giovanni Mazzone
Forti’s way with pizza dough: Fortunato Mazzone making his pizza dough, just like his dad Giovanni used to make. (Photo: Fortunato Mazzone)

In this series, I explore Italy’s cucina povera, the food of the country’s poor people, which is very much in vogue. In this edition, I share my recipe for something very special: my way of making pizza dough, in celebration of my father Giovanni.

Giovanni Mazzone, my father, was the pioneer of pizza in South Africa. He introduced the first wood-burning oven and was a legend of pizza. In 2022, I won the global pizza challenge to celebrate him. 

There are some important tips you need to know when making pizza dough:

  • The dough must never be overhandled.
  • Using a roller pushes all the air out.
  • Stretch by hand, always.
  • And give it the time to rise.
  • And one more thing: always be happy when making bread or pizza. The dough absorbs the energy of the maker.

The cucina povera, or poor people’s food, is absolutely in vogue in Italy, and around the world at the moment. Even Michelin-starred chefs have seized upon these centuries-old traditional foods served on the tables of the common people in rural Italy and turned them into fashionable food served in restaurants. 

These dishes are not only delicious and wholesome but often very cheap to make. Perfect for contemporary South Africa.

This dough recipe also works very well for a light Italian peasant bread.

Forti’s pizza dough recipe (80% hydration) for 4 

4 cups “00” flour

3 cups lukewarm water

1 Tbsp fine salt

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 sachet Anchor instant yeast


Combine the yeast into one of the cups of lukewarm water and mix well.

Place the flour in your home mixer bowl and, using the dough hook, add the water cup by cup, slowly, starting with the yeast-dissolved cup.

Add the oil and the salt. Slowly increase the speed as the dough becomes elastic. Stop mixing after 10 minutes or so when the dough separates from the side of the steel bowl.

Wet your hands and place the ball of dough in a large mixing bowl dusted with flour. Cover with a damp cloth and leave at room temperature until doubled in size.

Divide the dough into fist-sized balls and roll under your palms. Leave on a flour-dusted surface to rise again for 20 minutes. DM

Fortunato Mazzone is the boss at the Forti Group of restaurants.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Martin Engelbrecht says:

    I use a roller quicker and don’t allow for it to rise, I don’t know the difference.

  • Pizza Lover says:

    My wife just returned from Italy and couldn’t stop complimenting the pizza she experienced there. She thinks it’s all in the dough and I think it’s specifically in the flour they use……so a little elaboration on what “00” actually means would be great!

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