PIZZA – America’s favorite Italian dish

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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. My grandma had cookbooks and recipe files but never really used them. She cooked her way, her mother’s way. She could make freezer burned broccoli into a culinary masterpiece.

  3. Darlene – British Columbia, Canada – Writer of children's stories, short stories and travel articles.!/supermegawoman!/pages/Darlene-Foster-Writer/362236842733
    Darlene says:

    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.

  4. Dorothy's New Vintage Kitchen – I'm a writer, cook, gardener, photographer, poet, quilter, and accomplished daydreamer. I'm also a wife, mother, grandmother, sister. cousin, aunt, and friend, no particular order on any given day. I've been a writer all my life, newspaper reporter and columnist, radio news writer, and magazine contributor, and poet and short-story writer as the spirit moves. Now, I turn my attention to my cookbook, the blog, and a cooking column "Memorable Meals," which runs in our county newspaper. Besides my family, I love dogs, cats, good coffee, chocolate, and my never-dwindling pile of books I intend to read. Our family ran a small Vermont Inn for 18 years, with our focus on local, organic ingredients. I cook from scratch, and try not to use anything that has ingredients I cannot pronounce! After many years of daily serving up local delicacies, cooking classes, and catering, we are now only open for special events, and the odd cooking class. We also host musicians and artists, having helped produce a musical festival and other musical events for nearly 20 years. Many incredible artists have found a place at our table. Wonderful experiences, we will treasure always. My family and friends are my practice subjects. With a family that includes nut, peanut, tree fruit, and vegetable allergies, gluten intolerance, dairy intolerance, vegetarians, vegans, heart conscious, and a couple of picky eaters, there has to be a few quick tricks in the book to keep everyone fed and happy! Personally, I do not eat red meat or most full-fat dairy (usually) for health reasons, making the occasional exception at Thanksgiving and Christmas or our anniversary if the duck is locally raised. I do eat fish and seafood, so I try to come up with alternatives and substitutions when available. I serve local organic eggs and cheeses to my family who can tolerate dairy (My husband recently had a heart attack, and I need to watch my own cholesterol so I am careful, but have been known to let a little piece of really good cheese accidentally fall on my plate!). I believe strongly that eating in a way that is good for our planet is also good for our bodies, and I try to educated myself about our food sources! I cook by the seasons and draw on inspiration from the strong and talented women in my family who came before me, as well as the youth in the family who look at the world with fresh eyes. Food links us all, whether sharing a meal, cooking it together, or writing about it for others to enjoy. I love taking an old recipe and giving it a modern spin, especially if I can make it a littler healthier and use foods that are kinder to the Earth and to our bodies. I believe strongly in sustainable, delicious eating of whole foods, and the wonderful flavors we have at our fingertips! And finally, I love conversing with all the talented cooks and chefs out there who dot the globe! It's a wonderful, world full of culinary pen pals, and I cherish them all! XXXOOO Dorothy
    Dorothy’s New Vintage Kitchen says:

    What a lovely story and great recipe! Thank you so much for sharing this Bernadette!

  5. Kristie – I am busy mom of 5 amazing children. I love cooking, reading books and traveling. I can't wait to share some of that with you.
    Kristie says:

    I always say being in the kitchen with kids is more about love than food. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Linda – I am a devoted wife and mother who loves to create delicious meals for my family and friends. I also love traveling, interior decorating and photography.
    Linda says:

    What a charming story! And a wonderful tradition 🥰

  7. 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!

  8. Jacqui Murray – Laguna Hills, CA. – Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Savage Land.
    Jacqui Murray says:

    Pizza has so many possibilities. This sounds great. And your mom–gorgeous at 50!

  9. Time Traveler of Life – Where my Motor Home is! – Biography Creating worlds, characters, and wielding power like a madwoman, making my characters happy, sad, angry, and some of them with no redeeming qualities. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I sometimes laugh out loud when I am writing a scene, and I have been known to cry when one of my favorites has to die. I am a left-handed Gemini, what do you expect? Reading bedtime stories to my two children until they fell asleep or until they just told me to go away, was fun. Making up wild stories for my grandchild, and creating Halloween costumes from Cowboys to a Dragon, was another favorite thing to do. I missed that so much when they were grown, that I started writing. My yearly newsletters frequently were drafted third-person by my Love Birds, Miranda our motorhome, and by Sir Fit the White Knight, our faithful Honda. Throughout the years, some of my creative talents centered around writing letters of complaint expressing my displeasure with services or products. One crucial, at least to my Son, was a note to our local school bus driver petitioning her to allow him back on the bus. He was kicked off for making an obscene gesture at his buddy. I reminded her that it was not directed at her, and that “obscenity can be in the eye of the beholder,” kids use that gesture as a greeting. He rode the bus until he graduated. I loved driving my English teacher crazy. Leaving a “continued next week” at the end of my five handwritten pages required each week. He was one of many people that suggested I “do something about my writing.” I graduated from the School of Hard Knocks at the top of my class. After 30 years, in the trenches as a Real Estate Professional, I have found that truth is stranger than fiction. My books are filled with characters I met in that profession. Their names were changed to protect the guilty. Others were from people we met traveling around the country in Miranda, our Motorhome. I am married nearly 60 years to the love of my life, Shirl, and partner-produced two exceptionally talented children, and one grandchild who is our pride and joy.
    Time Traveler of Life says:

    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.

  10. 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 🙂

  11. 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!

  12. V.M.Sang – UK – I was born and educated in the north west of England. I trained as a teacher in Manchester and taught in Salford, Lancashire, Hampshire and Croydon. I write fantasy novels currently. I also make cards, knit, crochet, tat, do cross stitch and paint. I enjoy walking on the Downs, cycling and kayaking. I do not enjoy housework, but like cooking.
    V.M.Sang says:

    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.

  13. the Painted Apron – Life is all about creativity for me, as long as I'm creating something I am happy! I hope I will inspire your daily life and give you ideas for your own wonderful creations!
    the Painted Apron says:

    there is nothing better than homemade pizza, what a wonderful tribute to her special grandmother!

  14. 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.

  15. My boys love pizza, Bernadette. Thanks for sharing this excellent recipe.

  16. Beautiful story! I’ve never met a person who doesn’t like pizza either ☺️ It’s way too good, and there’s a pizza for any palate 😋

  17. Awe what a great story and I love that you have Friday night pizza, they look delcicious!

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