It’s no wonder people love pizza. The ultimate comfort food, pizza’s cheesy goodness is filling and delicious, but it’s also inexpensive and casual and messy, making it the perfect meal for a gathering with the immediate family, or with a few socially distanced friends.
“Pizza, on an emotional level, it’s one of those foods that are fun, comfortable and feel-good,” says Anthony Mangieri, founder and chef of Una Pizza Napoletana, which has locations in New York City and New Jersey. “Most people connect some part of their childhood to pizza — everyone is connected to pizza! It makes them feel safe. And honestly, even bad pizza tastes great.”
But hosting a pizza night is not foolproof. Says Mangieri, “You need to minimize stress.” If you’re having pizzas delivered or grabbing from takeout, you’re going to want to reheat them at home on a pizza stone. “Preheat the stone in the oven and put the cooked pizza on it for a few minutes to crisp it up and get it piping hot again,” he says. “Pizza stones are amazing, they heat the pizza better, simulating the floor of your local pizzeria’s oven.”
For Silverton, an outdoor pizza oven is a must. “When I think of home pizza parties I think of an outdoor party and a pizza oven that draws people to the oven the way a backyard barbecue grill does,” she says. “It provides conversation.”
And when it comes to serving your meal, the less fuss the better, according to Mangieri. “It doesn’t have to be formal — cut the pizzas into bite sizes and your guests can just be free to grab whatever they want. People are looking for simple, fun, easy things for their life.”
According to Silverton, you really don’t need much to have a great pizza night. “An outdoor oven (wood or gas-fired). Dough and toppings,” she says. “Friends. And music. Combine the above essentials and it’s the universal recipe for a good time.”
There you have it, folks. Check out our list of everything else you’ll need — from the pizza-making appliances to the serving tools to the ambiance details — below.
Ooni Koda Gas-Powered Outdoor Pizza Oven ($329; ooni.com)
The Ooni Koda is definitely having a moment, as people coast to coast, staying home because of the pandemic, have clamored to get their hands on the gas-powered outdoor oven, which churns out restaurant-quality Neapolitan pizzas all day long. The portable appliance needs 15 minutes to heat up (it reaches up to 932 degrees Fahrenheit), and then can create a perfectly cooked pie every 60 seconds. Preorder your Koda now, and it will ship in late July.
Breville Smart Oven Pizzaiolo ($1,000, originally $1,500; surlatable.com)
For city dwellers who are short on outdoor space, Mangieri suggests this countertop oven. “These are really amazing, whether you’re bringing a pizza home, heating up a frozen one or making a pie from scratch,” he says.
With this oven, you can achieve brick oven quality from your kitchen, as it reaches a whopping 750 degrees Fahrenheit, without getting hot on the outside surface as it sits on your countertop. Churning out gorgeous pizzas in as little as two minutes, the oven features three types of heat that mimic the conditions in a brick oven.
Pizzaiolo’s settings include options for New York style, thin and crispy, wood-fired and frozen pizzas. Our favorite detail is how the oven stone rises to meet you when you open the door. The elephant in the room, of course, is the price, but when you consider how much you’d spend building an actual brick oven in your backyard to achieve the same results, a thousand bucks suddenly doesn’t seem so bad.
Presto Pizzazz Plus Rotating Oven ($46.34, originally $49.99; amazon.com)
Turning continuously to ensure even baking, the Presto Pizzazz heats from above and below — the temps for both are controlled separately — and can cook both fresh and frozen pizzas. More to know: The removable, nonstick baking tray is dishwasher-friendly.
Betty Crocker Pizza Maker ($44.14, originally $59.95; amazon.com)
Another more affordable appliance is this pizza maker from Betty Crocker. It’s known for turning out crisp crusts on frozen or fresh pies in 15 minutes, and for cooking up a slew of other options, from cinnamon buns and cookies to omelets and nachos.
The stones & pans
All-Clad Pizza Baker & Stone ($124.95; surlatable.com)
Including a natural soapstone baking disc that disperses heat evenly, a stainless steel tray with handles, and a pizza cutter, this All-Clad set is a glamorous way to do pizza. Bonus: It can double as a gorgeous cheese tray.
Emile Henry 14.5-Inch Pizza Stone ($50; amazon.com)
Made in France, Emile Henry’s collection of glazed ceramic pizza stones is a top-of-the-line option for making pies in the oven or on the grill.
Here’s why we love them: First up, that glaze: In addition to being super easy to wipe clean with no stains (this can go in the dishwasher, too!), the smooth surface makes removing pizza a breeze. Next, you can cut the pizza right on the stone with nary a scratch. And then there’s the fact all three styles — the circle stone smooth, the circle stone with ridges and the square stone — all have handles, making them much easier to remove from the oven or grill. For your best, crispiest results, the brand recommends heating the stone prior to placing your pizza on it.
Lodge 14-Inch Cast-Iron Baking Pan ($45.54, originally $60; amazon.com)
If you’re looking for an ultradurable cast-iron pizza stone that can also cook everything from vegetables to fish, this classic from Lodge is your answer. The seasoned pan can be used in an oven, on a grill or even over a campfire. Bonus: The loop handles make carrying easier.
Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Nonstick Bakeware 14-Inch Pizza Pan ($26.75; amazon.com)
This pan’s main selling point is the perforated surface that creates crust so crisp you’d think it cooked directly on the oven rack. Made of heavy-gauge aluminized steel, the pan also evenly distributes the heat, while the nonstick surface allows for easy cleanup and food release. More to know: Thick, rolled edges prevent warping, and the pan is dishwasher-safe, too.
Chicago Metallic Deep-Dish Pizza Pan ($18.99; amazon.com)
If you’re a Chicago pizza loyalist, this pan is going to make your deep-dish dreams a reality. Composed of heavy-duty carbon steel, the 14-inch pan is nonstick and dishwasher-friendly.
LloydPans Kitchenware Detroit Style Pizza Pan ($38.99; amazon.com)
Detroit pizza lovers, fear not, we’ve got your back with this preseasoned deep rectangular pan that was built to the Motor City’s specifications. Made in the US, the hard anodized pan features a nontoxic coating that keeps the pan looking brand new, even after hundreds of uses. You can expect deep pies with crusts that are crispy on the outside and soft and airy on the inside. Done and done.
Checkered Chef Pizza Cutter ($13.95; amazon.com)
Made of commercial grade stainless steel, the rocker cutter slices straight down, leaving toppings and cheese in place. In four quick passes over the pizza, you’ve got eight slices cut — hands down the fastest slicing option out there.
Dexter 4” Pizza Wheel Cutter ($15.99, originally $32; amazon.com)
That said — we’re also in agreement that there’s something nostalgic and old-school about a wheel cutter. And this one, by Dexter, is a favorite of Mangieri’s. “They are really good quality and the nice thing about that brand is the actual blade can be removed, so when it gets dull you can buy a new blade — it’s a lifetime kitchen tool,” he says.
Dreamfarm Scizza Scissors ($29.95; amazon.com)
The Dreamfarm Scizza slides under the pizza, cutting all the way through — from thin crust to deep dish — and leaving toppings in place. The German stainless-steel scissor can also pick up and serve each slice, and it won’t scratch surfaces, making it a hero kitchen tool.
Norpro Wood Pizza Roller ($4.95, originally $9.99; amazon.com)
If fresh pies are on your menu, a rolling pin is key to shaping your dough, and this two-in-one option from Norpro is an Amazon favorite. Featuring two rollers, one small and one large, the tool uniformly smooths out the dough, while also filling in the edges and smoothing the sides.
Chicago Brick Oven Pizza Spinner Turning Fork, 2-Pack ($15.99; amazon.com)
The perfect accoutrement for the Ooni, this fork-prong spinner makes turning the pie to achieve even cooking a breeze — and it saves your hands from being inside a hot oven. More to know: The spinner can also be used to lift the pie and check on the crust, to move toppings around and pop any dough or cheese bubbles that arise.
New Star Foodservice Wooden Pizza Peel (starting at $19.97; amazon.com)
Regardless of how you’re making your pizza — whether it’s indoors on a stone or outside in an oven or on a grill — you’re going to need a peel to lift the pie off the cooking surface. And trust us when we say that not all peels are created equal. This wooden one easily slides under the pizza (without causing any damage, as some steel peels can do) thanks to its wide tapered edge. It’s also available in a variety of sizes with both short and extra-long handles.
Cuisinart 3 Piece Pizza Grilling Pack ($27.78, originally $39.99; amazon.com)
Serve all your pizza needs with this set that includes Cuisinart’s beloved 13-inch pizza stone, a peel and a wheel cutter. Usable indoors or out, the ceramic stone is heat-resistant to 800 degrees, while the super smooth aluminum peel resists sticking and the wheel cutter will slice up your perfectly cooked pie afterwards.
Winco Premium Pizza Pan Gripper ($9.35, originally $10.53; amazon.com)
One way to quickly ruin pizza night is getting a bad burn. Avoid that with this handy (and affordable) gripping tool that clamps onto any size hot pan that you’re pulling out of the oven or grill.
Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Pizza Server ($10.25, originally $11.99; amazon.com)
After creating your pies, cooking them to perfection and slicing them up, then comes the best part — eating them! But to avoid spreading germs, you’ll want to avoid handling the food directly. Instead, turn to this stainless steel server from Oxo, which can easily slide under thin crusts and deep-dish pizzas alike.
Ultimate Ears Boom 3 Portable Bluetooth Wireless Speaker ($119.99, originally $149.99; amazon.com)
Beyond the meal itself, both chefs agree that your home’s ambiance is equally important — specifically music. “If you’re having something at home, you want to have fun, you want to put some great music on — for me being Italian American, I tend to get in the zone and put on some Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin,” says Mangieri. “Whether it’s a romantic night or family and friends night, music is going to make everything better.”
And if your group is flowing from the kitchen outside and back, you want the music to be continuous throughout. Turn to the Boom 3, a weatherproof, drop-resistant, battery-powered portable speaker that delivers excellent sound for up to 15 hours on a single charge.
Nova Deruta 16-Piece Dinnerware Set ($279.95, originally $320; surlatable.com)
Heighten your table’s Italian vibe with this gorgeous set of handcrafted dinnerware. “Another great thing to do on pizza night is to get some really beautiful plates, the style you find in Italy, with bright colors that make you think of the Amalfi coast,” says Mangieri. “They will add to the ambiance.”
We couldn’t agree more, and this earthenware set will do the job beautifully.
Bormioli Rocco Romantic Glass, Set of Four ($19.99; amazon.com)
If pizza is on the menu, you’re going to want to pair the meal with some vino. Mangieri says Gragnano (a sparkling red) and Aspirino (white) are both always on his wine list — remember to serve them chilled! — and he recommends serving them in trattoria-style tumblers, like this set that comes in clear, pink, blue or green. We love the vintage-esque detailing on the glasses, and the fact that they come in a stemware version, too.
Hiasan Red and White Checkered Tablecloth Rectangle (starting at $14.59; amazon.com)
If you’re going for a full-throttle pizza place aesthetic, a red checkered tablecloth is a must.
MyGift Rose Gold Metal Pizza Pan Display Stands, Set of 2 ($22.50; amazon.com)
Showcasing your pies and creating a buffet that allows guests to serve themselves is another option, and these pretty rose gold stands are a sleek way to do so.
’Mystic Pizza’ (starting at $3.99; amazon.com)
Let’s face it: Pizza and movies go hand in hand. So, if you’re screening a film before, during or after your party, the ultimate ‘80s flick to pick is “Mystic Pizza.”
Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed price at the time of publication.