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Johnny di Francesco shares with us the recipe that won the Pizza World Championship in Rome, and talks to us about why he loves Neapolitan pizza, ahead of National Pizza Day.

The classic margherita pizza is one of my all-time favorites. There is something really special about traditional Neapolitan pizza – when you keep the ingredients simple, everything has a chance to shine, and equally, there’s nowhere to hide! With only tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and basil, this is the perfect example of less being more.

Everything we use at 400 Gradi is fresh and of exceptional quality, and the same should be true of home cooking. Of course, this recipe is also special because it won me the Pizza World Championship. I was honored enough to be representing Australia and really didn’t expect to take out the top prize. When I did, I was surprised, but proud. I have been making pizza since I was 12, so it was crazy to think I had just made the world’s best pizza!

Without a doubt, the secret to this recipe is high quality ingredients – especially when it comes to the flour. The dough is so important when you make traditional Neapolitan pizza, as it’s the hero of the dish. I also recommend making the dough the day before, because it gives it ample time to rise, and you also won’t be pushed for time and can really perfect it.

When it comes to ingredients, never ever compromise, and never forget that one of the most important ingredients is always love!

If you’re making pizza at home for National Pizza Day, I have one important tip: enjoy it! You can be taught how to make pizza and ingredients can be sourced, but nothing beats passion and having fun in the kitchen.



1kg “00” flour sieved
30 g fine sea salt
1 g fresh yeast
600 ml water


San Marzano tomato
Buffalo mozzarella
Fresh basil
Extra virgin olive oil


1. In a bowl, combine water and salt and allow to dissolve. Add 10 per cent of the flour and mix. Mix well. Add more flour and the yeast. Continue to add the remaining flour and mix well until combined.

2. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic. This can take up to 10 minutes. Place the dough into a lightly floured bowl, cover with a damp cloth and set aside. Let the dough rest for half an hour.

3. Divide dough into 4-5 round balls. Cover with a damp tea towel and allow the dough balls to rise. This can take up to 10-12 hours. Once the dough has doubled in size, place on a lightly floured bench and stretch the dough by hand.

4. Roll out a 220g round of pizza dough, then spread the San Marzano tomato. Top with buffalo mozzarella, then place four basil leaves on top and drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil. Bake for 10 minutes at 280C in a domestic  oven, or for 90 seconds in a woodfire oven.

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