Culinary SOS: Cafe del Rey’s Mediterranean pizza

Café del Rey’s Mediterranean pizza
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)


Dear SOS:

Café del Rey in Marina del Rey serves a Mediterranean pizza that is very different and one of my favorites. Is there any chance you can obtain the recipe?

John C. Severino



Dear John: We loved the light crust, bright sauce and array of colorful toppings in this pizza from Cafe del Rey. The restaurant was happy to share its recipe, which we’ve adapted below. The recipe makes two pies, perfect for company.

Café del Rey’s Mediterranean pizza

Total time: 11/2 hours, plus rising times


Servings: 6 to 8

Note: Adapted from Café del Rey in Marina del Rey

Pizza dough

11/4 cups sparkling mineral water

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon sugar

2 teaspoons active dry yeast Scant 1/2 teaspoon salt

31/2 cups (15.5 ounces) bread flour, divided, plus more as needed for kneading


1. In a large bowl, whisk together the water, oil, sugar and yeast. Set aside the mixture for 15 minutes to hydrate the yeast.

2. Stir in the salt and two-thirds of the flour, 1 spoonful at a time, to achieve a very soft dough.

3. Turn out the dough onto a well-floured board and continue kneading in additional flour until a soft, sticky dough is achieved. The dough should be very moist; the more flour added, the heavier the dough and final crust.

4. Place the dough in a large, greased bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Set aside the dough until it doubles in volume, about 1 to 11/2 hours. (While the dough is rising, make the tomato and pesto sauces, and assemble the toppings.)

5. When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and turn it out onto a floured board. Halve the dough and roll each half into a ball. Place the balls on the floured board and lightly flour the top of each. Loosely cover each ball with plastic wrap and set aside until almost doubled again.

Tomato sauce

11/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

11/2 teaspoons minced garlic


3/4 cup diced yellow onion

11/2 cups (9 ounces, about 4 whole tomatoes with sauce) canned plum tomatoes

11/2 teaspoons tomato paste

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar, or to taste

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon chopped fresh marjoram

1. In a medium saucepan heated over medium heat, add the oil, garlic and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, careful not to burn the garlic.

2. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, salt and sugar. Cover the pan and gently simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in the herbs.

3. Pass the sauce through a food mill, or purée using a food processor or blender. This makes 1 scant cup tomato sauce. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Basil pesto

2 small garlic cloves

1 teaspoon toasted pine nuts Small pinch red chile flakes

1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups loosely packed basil leaves Lemon juice, to taste

1. In a large mortar and pestle or using a food processor, grind together the garlic, pine nuts, chile flakes, Parmigiano and olive oil. Add the basil leaves, a few at a time, until they are incorporated and a coarse paste is formed.

2. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired with additional Parmigiano, lemon juice, pine nuts or olive oil. Thin as desired with a little olive oil.

3. Refrigerate the pesto in a nonreactive container with the surface covered with plastic wrap until needed; the pesto will keep for up to 1 day.

Pizza and assembly Prepared pizza dough Prepared tomato sauce

2 cups fresh grated mozzarella

1/2 cup crumbled feta

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

3/4 cup pitted kalamata olives

1 cup drained marinated artichokes Prepared basil pesto

1. Place a pizza stone on a rack in the oven, and heat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Roll out each dough ball to a 12- to 14-inch round and place on a floured pizza peel. Divide the sauce between the two rounds, ladling evenly over each round and leaving a 1-inch border around each.

3. Sprinkle the mozzarella and feta evenly over the pizzas, and garnish the top of each pie with the tomatoes, olives and artichokes.

4. Gently slide the first pizza on the stone. Bake until the crust is puffed and golden-brown, about 8 to 10 minutes (timing will vary depending on the thickness of the pie and heat of the oven). Remove the pizza and slide the second into the oven. Cool the pizzas slightly, then spoon the pesto over and slice. Serve immediately.

Each of 8 servings: 415 calories; 16 grams protein; 50 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 17 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 31 mg. cholesterol; 4 grams sugar; 692 mg. sodium.

SOS REQUESTS: Send Culinary SOS requests to or Culinary SOS, Food section, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Please include your name, phone number and city of residence.

Get our weekly Tasting Notes newsletter