What’s the best pizza?

Illustration: Zuzana Gazdikova. Source: Pixabay.

Some people love deep dish; others prefer thin crust. Some like extra cheese; some want white sauce; some really love the “supreme” topping mix. I personally like pesto pizza. It’s a delicious way to use up extra pesto sauce that wasn’t quite needed that last time we had linguini. Whatever way you like your pizza, the best pizza, in my opinion, is fresh: fresh ingredients, freshly rolled and risen crust, and fresh out of the oven. This pandemic has been terrible in many ways, but it’s been great for making pizza. If we can’t go out for pizza, maybe we could learn to make it ourselves, from scratch. And pizza stocks have certainly recovered well from last year’s sell-off!

20-year chart of Papa John’s Pizza.
Source: Bloomberg. Not investing advice!
Investments must be customized for your specific situation!

Cooking and investing have a lot in common. They both need planning. There may not be a single best approach, but there are lots of wrong ways. Attention to detail is crucial; the quality of the underlying ingredients matters immensely; and – most important – the pizza (or portfolio) needs to be tailored to the person. My brother didn’t like regular cheese, so we substituted. Other folks might use a cauliflower crust, or vegan alternatives, or something else. The best pizza is the pizza that works for you.

In the same way, investment portfolios need to be customized to each investor’s specific circumstances. My son works for an online retailer; if he adds a lot of e-commerce shares to his retirement account, he’s doubling his exposure to that industry. A portfolio with 50 different holdings – all small energy companies – isn’t very diversified. There used to be a local eatery called “Everything but Anchovies.” They offered a truly diversified pizza – an EBA’s Special that came on a 70-inch crust and had every topping they had in the house, including anchovies, if you wanted. It wasn’t available for takeout.

Another way that pizzas are like portfolios is that doing them well takes time. Sure, you can grab a frozen box from the grocery store, but there’s simply no substitute for a crust that was mixed the night before, divided and rolled out today, had fresh sauce and toppings laid on, and is cooked until the edges are just brown and the cheese is bubbly. And there’s no substitute for a portfolio that fits into a comprehensive picture of your finances and the goals that we have for our lives. How we manage our money is important, but it’s only part of a much larger picture. Quite frankly, it’s not even the most important part. What we want to do, when we plan to do it, and how we get there is critical. Pizza, like life, is a journey. By all means, get the oven started now. But take the time to be sure you have the right toppings!

Photo: Engin Akyurt. Source: Pixabay.

When we were first married, my wife and I would go to a Greek pizza restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island. We loved the capers and kalamata olives we got at Athens Pizza. Here’s a great pizza recipe I came upon recently from my friend, Susan Nye. She wrote about making Greek Pizza during a February vacation, but this sounds like it would taste good anytime:

Greek Pizza (Serves 4)

Olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon Italian herbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
about 8 ounces frozen spinach or 12 ounces fresh
16-20 ounces pizza dough (your favorite recipe, store-bought or from your favorite pizzeria)
4 ounces feta crumbled
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
12 or more kalamata or oil-cured black olives, pitted and quartered
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Heat a little olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped red onion and herbs and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2-3 minutes more. Turn up the heat and add the spinach, sauté until the spinach defrosts (or fresh wilts) and most of the liquid is cooked off. Set aside. Cut the pizza dough into 4 pieces. Stretch each piece into a round or roll out with a rolling pin. Top each pizza with spinach, sprinkle with shredded mozzarella, crumbled feta and olives.

Transfer the pizzas to a lightly oiled baking sheet or a preheated pizza stone (Note: I like to put the pizza on parchment paper and then slide it onto the stone -dt). Bake the pizza for 12-15 minutes if you use a baking sheet and 8-12 minutes if you use a pizza stone or until the cheese is bubbly and crust is crisp. Source: https://susannye.wpcomstaging.com/tag/pizza/