PIZZA – America’s favorite Italian dish

If God had intended us to follow recipes, He wouldn’t have given us grandmothers. ~Linda Henley

Hi there,

Who doesn’t like pizza? I know I have never met that person. And, what grandchild doesn’t adore being in the kitchen with their grandmother? I haven’t met that child either.

I have a treat for you today. This is my friend Mag’s story of making pizza with her beloved grandmother. Mag makes this pizza every Friday night for dinner. Imagine how pleased her grandmother would be to know (or maybe already knows) that her granddaughter and now her great-grandson are still making her recipe and thinking of Nonna with love. What follows is Mag’s story.

Hi Bern

So I was trying to come up with any absolute recipes from my grandmother but she really didn’t use them!  I will try to recreate the way I learned from watching her for many years!

Anna Busacca came to the United States through Ellis Island from Naples, Italy at the age of 4.  My fondest memories of my grandmother was her many visits to our house when I was growing up.  I am the oldest of five and my parents had a business so she came to help out a lot.  That’s where I learned to make many favorite dishes.  I also picked up a few bad words in Italian as well!  I can remember many Easters with fresh raviolis placed on clean sheets over all the furniture in the living room to “dry out”.  And plates of escarole soup, pasta, and sausage served as an appetizer before every Thanksgiving turkey dinner.   Most of my friends woke up Sunday mornings to the smell of bacon, but at my house it was fresh meatballs and garlic being fried up for Sunday gravy dinner!

Every Friday she made “100” pizzas, at least that’s what it looked like to me as a kid.  The kitchen had many rectangular pans ready for fresh dough and toppings.  I asked her to write down how she made the dough, which she did, but in broken English and not too exact!  So here it is – exactly – Anna Busacca’s pizza recipe:

Dough (from her recipe card)

Take one package of yeast and the dissolve in warm water not to hot, one pacage of yeast in 2 pound of flour.  Add salt and mix al together until make the dough to rise in a warm place.  When it rise work it down a few time then use flour if you need it., if dough is watery use flour then  make the ball of dough and put it on the table and cover it for haf hour then make the pizza.  Put little oil on the pan then put the dough spread it and put the mozzarella cheese and gravy and grated cheese and put it in the oven 450 and look under the dough to see if done. 


Olive Oil to coat bottom of saucepan

4 cloves of garlic, minced

San Marzano tomatoes, 1 large can

Oregano and parsley

Heat olive oil and add garlic.  Crush tomatoes with your hands and add to saucepan.  Sprinkle oregano and chopped parsley.  Done – don’t cook……

So over the years I have scoured cookbooks and the internet for the perfect pizza dough recipe, as well as purchased frozen balls of fresh dough in the grocery stores.  They never seem to taste like her crispy, chewy pans of heaven, but I love that I carried on the tradition of Friday night pizzas when my kids were growing up and now my son has taken over for his family to enjoy! 

I’ve included two photos – one of her in a painting that was done when she was in her 50s which is hanging in my dining room to toast her at every meal, and one with me when I was pregnant with my first child and she visited for two weeks!!!

Doesn’t this story just put a smile on your face and make you hungry for pizza? Thanks Mag for sharing it with us.

31 responses to “PIZZA – America’s favorite Italian dish”

  1. Bernadette-
    I can’t tell you the trip down memory lane you’ve just shared with me as I’m sipping my morning coffee. Reading the recipe put a huge smile on my face – that’s EXACTLY how my grandmom sounded!!! And the recipe – there’s never a measure! Yet it was all so so delicious. Heartwarming. I try to carry some of these traditions with my crew. Some have succeeded and some not so much, but the good thing is that some new traditions have been born which rooted from the old.
    Once again, thank you for sharing. Your blog makes me smile.
    Also, if anyone has a recipe for Pasta and Ceci please share. I had my Aunt’s which was passed down from my grandmom, but for the life of me I can’t find it….

    • Aww Rita, thanks so much. You are right it is good to carry on family traditions but it is just as important to create new ones. I will get you a pasta and ceci recipe.❤️

  2. Exactly how my grandmother cooked as well. Recipes were unheard of and everything tasted great! My grandmother made kuchen just like this and I thought there were 100s of them scattered around the house to cool. A nice tradition to carry on.

  3. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this story and both recipes! I shed tears of laughter and tears from the heart as I read about Nonna Anna, the recipe in her “broken English”, the family traditions and the ongoing remembrances of and tributes to her. The portrait painting is beautiful, and so is the photo of pregnant Mag! Mag, you’ve got Nonna Anna’s enchanting smile!

    And I think we should stop using the term “broken English”. There’s nothing broken about hearing an immigrant trying her best to master the English language. It is a beautiful blending of both native and acquired tongues that represents an earnest attempt to assimilate two cultures, and that is commendable!

    My Scottish/Welsh husband makes pizza using his Scottish (as in born there) mother’s recipe. But we’re going to try this recipe, for sure. It sounds and looks delicioso!!!

    Many thanks to Mag for writing the story and providing the recipes and photos, and as always, to Bernadette, for bringing these enjoyable family stories and recipes into our lives. There’s a lot of love going on in this blog!

  4. My family loves pizza. So much that we have it for Christmas Dinner. When we moved to Phoenix, and the kids had flew the coop, the always came back for Christmas and were allowed to bring any of their friends that did not have family. I asked them to bring their favorite topping. We got 6 cans of black olives and no one wanted them on their pizza! LOL! So we told them we would get everything, just bring themselves and an appetite! And they did! We have made up to 15 pizzas for them. I use my bread recipe and just put 1/2 the yeast. You don’t have to let it rise and beat it down, just roll it out and put the stuff on it and bake it.

    • What a fun story. Six cans of olives!!! This sounds like a story and a recipe to me. You should post it or give to me to post. Hope all is well in your life.

  5. Pizza has provided me with a lot of comfort over the years during exams in college and graduate years and throughout my adult life, especially if I didn’t feel like cooking. Heck, I remember Chef Boy Ardi? pizzas – yuck! Having been to Italy a few times the “American Pie” is much different from the Italian versions. Love all the goodies and not just a crisp crust with only tomatoes 🙂

  6. Yum! We have a “make your own pizza” night regularly at my house. I make the dough and lay out different toppings and we all choose accordingly. The kiddos love it. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  7. Grandma’s, eh? They were the wonder of the world. I remember sitting on the back step shelling peas with my grandma. At Christmas she always had a goose, and I helped her with that. It was in the days before pizza was common, so she never made it, but she was the best cook I ever knew. Someone once said she could make a good meal out of an old boot.
    Of course, she lived through 2 world wars, and the rationing that brought, so she had to be resourceful.
    And I never saw a recipe book in her house.

  8. Ah, pizza!!! You know this is a subject near and dear to my heart, Bernadette! Mag’s memories of her grandmother’s home on pizza day reminded me of my own memories (though at my Gram’s house, it was more likely jams and jellies), and it all seemed so huge! Our taste buds never forget grandma’s foods, and if she keeps searching, Mag will eventually find the right dough recipe. 🙂
    I’m writing down the “gravy” recipe, by the way. Les keeps promising he will start making our sauce from scratch, so this will be a friendly nudge.

Any comments or suggestions are appreciated. If you like this recipe, please give it to your friends.

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