PIZZA for breakfast is a proposition that ranks right up there with drinks before noon. Put them together and you have the perfect brunch.
Usually pizza is a guilty pleasure for breakfast, leftover slices eaten cold while you’re standing in front of the refrigerator. But it is a whole different indulgence hot from the oven, with a crisp crust and a savory topping that is more like the ultimate omelet than anything Pizza Hut could slap together.
And pizza makes just as much sense for breakfast as a burrito does. Both comprise all four of the essential morning food groups: eggs, sausage, cheese and bread (the crust being like the tortilla, which is like toast). But pizza seriously outperforms burritos at brunch time.
Unlike a breakfast burrito, it’s meant for sharing, like a frittata, and everyone knows communal eggs are integral to brunch. Burritos are good anytime and can even be eaten while driving, but breakfast pizza feels weekend-worthy, more suited to eating around a table. Nor does it have to be assembled to order, as eggs in tortillas with salsa do. One whole pizza can be baked and divvied up like a quiche. On a plate with a vibrant green salad, it even makes a real meal, more lunch than breakfast.
All that’s needed to round out the menu is a drink and a dessert, a fruit-forward dessert, which is the best part: Pizza goes with just about anything in either category.
Breakfast pizza starts like any other, with a serious crust; it ends with mozzarella and ricotta, but it doesn’t stop for tomato sauce in between. Instead, the plain crust is covered with Italian sausage and sauteed kale, which adds a bitter brightness to the whole assemblage. Eggs thickened and enriched with sour cream are then poured over, and the cheese goes on last, a layering of the best fresh mozzarella you can find and a few dollops of good ricotta.
After it’s baked and cut into slices, it can be eaten either with a fork, if you want to be dainty, or by hand, if you want to be weekend casual. All it needs on the plate with it is a mix of mesclun or other greens in a light vinaigrette with lemon and shallots, with some roasted red peppers tossed in if you’re feeling ambitious.
For the all-important drink, you could serve the pizza with the usual Mimosas or Bloody Marys, but a Pisco Sour, a cocktail that is turning up in more and more restaurants on weekends, is surprisingly good company. Made from Peruvian brandy mixed with lime and lemon juice, it has a sweet-tart balance that contrasts superbly with the richness of the pizza.
You make it like a gin fizz, another brunch drink that is undergoing something of a renaissance. The brandy is combined in a cocktail shaker with an egg white, the juice, a little sugar and lots of ice and agitated until the drink is nice and frothy. A few shakes of Angostura bitters in the glass add color to the drink and subtle edge to the flavors.
Pisco, the brandy itself, has a pungent aroma and taste very similar to aguardiente, another South American spirit. You can spend as little as $15 for a bottle or as much as $30 and get a great drink at either extreme.
As for dessert, fruit always feels right for brunch, and apples feel very February. You can mix them with pecans in a spicy batter and make an excellent cake with the perfect right-on-the-edge-of-gooey richness, then take it to another level with a warm sauce that has the flavor of caramel with none of the fear factor of melting sugar. You just melt butter, cream and two kinds of sugar until you get spoonable bliss.
If you have only one oven, you can bake the cake first, then the pizza, then warm up dessert by making the sauce just before you serve it.
This whole menu is actually very simple to do. Call it thinking out of the Domino’s box.