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An Incredibly Obvious at-Home Pizza Hack

If your local pizzeria sells dough to go, buy it

Balls of uncooked dough on wooden cutting board. Shutterstock
Rebecca Flint Marx is the editor of Eater at Home. Her areas of expertise include home cooking and popular culture.

This post originally appeared in the March 29, 2021 edition of The Move, a place for Eater’s editors to reveal their recommendations and pro dining tips — sometimes thoughtful, sometimes weird, but always someone’s go-to move. Subscribe now.

I was raised in a house by two people who rarely went to restaurants, preferring instead to make most of their meals at home. The upshot of this was that pizza, when it was eaten, was the product of a multi-hour endeavor, always undertaken on a Saturday, that involved the painstaking kneading, rising, shaping, and re-rising of dough. It wasn’t that delivery pizza was altogether verboten; it was more that my parents relished the ritual, which was often performed against the sonic backdrop of “A Prairie Home Companion.”

As a result, I entered adulthood with a binary belief about pizza: either you ordered it, or you made it all yourself, crust included. I stubbornly maintained this belief for many years, and it received further reinforcement when I took a class that taught us that thin-crust, restaurant-quality pizza was something that could be made using regular AP flour and a run-of-the-mill, crappy apartment oven. And then the pandemic came, and while I still believed in the myriad virtues of homemade pizza dough, I had little desire to make it.

But sometimes you want pizza, and sometimes you don’t feel like shelling out the cash to order whole pies, which can get expensive when you’re trying to feed, say, four people who all have different ideas about toppings. I’ve never bothered with the premade pizza dough you can find at the grocery store; but one recent evening, my boyfriend went out and bought four balls of dough from his local pizzeria. An hour or two later we had four individual pizzas, made in a nondescript New York apartment oven but tasting for all the world like pizza that had emerged from a real, above-average restaurant.

Not only did we have semi-homemade, very good pizza, but we’d also managed to support a local pizzeria in a way that we’ll continue. Takeout and home-cooked meals are often pitted against each other as an all-or-nothing proposition, but if take-home dough showed me anything, it’s that they can exist in intertwined harmony. Now we can support our local pizzeria both on the nights when we feel like spending money on pizza, and on the nights we don’t.

For those people out there who long ago discovered you could do this, the idea of just walking into a pizzeria and buying dough to take home is a bit of a “no shit, Sherlock” situation. But for me, it was life-changing, a word I typically reserve only for certain dog care products and condiment brands. So, yeah, if your local pizza place offers it, then buy some dough to take home. It hits that sweet spot right between takeout and homemade; some might say it’s the best of both worlds.