Pizza with Marc Antoine and Dean Martin

I don’t know why Marc and I started calling each other “Bastardo.”  We had just met.

“How ya doin’, bastardo?”

“What’s up, bastardo?”

Marc Antoine is a tremendously gifted guitar player.  I love the way he plays.  He’s played with Rod Stewart, Sting, Celine Dion. Marc was born in Paris, and living in L.A. when I first met him.

A percussionist named Steve Reid had put together a tour; he called it Jazzatopia. Marc on guitar, Me on vocals, and Everette Harp on sax. We traveled all over the US; Marc and I became fast friends.  The year was 1997.

We were in San Antonio playing a place called the White Rabbit.  The night before the show, Marc and I went downtown to the Riverwalk, a collection of bars and cafes alongside the San Antonio River. I was in an open-air Mexican restaurant, and Marc was down by the water.

I was sitting at the bar, surrounded by my Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters, when I heard one of my songs come over the sound system.  It was one of the first times I’d ever heard my music on the radio.  I jumped up and screamed out to Marc, who was about 50 yards away,


The restaurant went dead silent.  A couple of guys pulled out machetes.  For a couple moments there, I thought guns might be drawn.  Everyone was staring at me.  They finally relaxed when they realized I wasn’t screaming at any of them.  I just smiled a sheepish smile, waved weakly and walked out.  I don’t think Marc and I called each other “bastardo” after that.

The Jazzatopia tour started with rehearsals in an industrial complex outside of L.A.  There were three warehouses.

In one warehouse they were building white plastic Storm Trooper uniforms for a Star Wars movie.  There were hundreds of them hanging on racks outside in the sun to dry.  It was bizarre.

In another warehouse, Fleetwood Mac was rehearsing for their tour.  A year before, I had played a club in D.C. owned by Mick Fleetwood, the drummer.  We became friendly; he wasn’t the kind of friend I could ask to bail me out of jail, but he knew who I was.  I went over and said hello. I stood around and listened to Fleetwood Mac rehearse.

Then there was our warehouse, number three.  The Jazzatopia warehouse. At our first rehearsal, Marc got into a fistfight with the drummer, who had to be replaced.  Seriously.  After that, things calmed down a bit.  I think Marc scared the shit out of the rest of the band. Everybody fell in line.

One night while we were out on tour, Marc told me the story about a lovely woman he had met while he was doing a TV show in Madrid.  He was playing, she was one of the dancers on the set, dancing to his music, it was love at first sight.

She must have made quite an impression, because after our tour, Marc went to Madrid and asked her to marry him.  He invited me to their wedding in Madrid.

The wedding was wild and fun and crazy.  We danced.  We ate.  We drank.  We played.  I think I sang a few songs with the band.  The wedding started in the afternoon and went until 4 AM?  Or was it 5?  I think it was 6 AM when I caught a cab back to the hotel.

The day after the wedding, I went to Marbella, a beach town on the Mediterranean.  I was at a seaside bar, drinking sangria – the kind they make with white wine and brandy and Cointreau – and I’d had a few.  It was late afternoon.

A song came over the sound system as the sun was setting.

“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.”  Dean Martin was singing.  I love Dino. I love that song. But when I thought about that opening line, I turned to the guy standing next to me and said,

“ ‘When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.’ What the hell kinda of lyric is that?”

The guy turned to me and said, “I’ve never worked a day in my life because of that song.”

He told me that one of his relatives had written that song, and a bunch of others. His relative had willed him the royalties when he died.

The guy who wrote “That’s Amore” was Harry Warren, the son of Italian immigrants.  He wrote “Chattanooga Choo Choo”, “Jeepers Creepers”, “You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby” and a lot of other smash hits.

Harry Warren also won three Academy awards, and was nominated eleven times.  No wonder no one in his family had to work.  Ever. True story.

I told the story to Marc.  He wasn’t surprised.  Marc then told me a story. His friend had written a song — not a hit song, just a song — that was included on The BodyGuard soundtrack.  That’s the movie with Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston where Whitney sings “I Will Always Love You.”

The soundtrack sold millions of copies.  The movie was a smash.  Marc’s friend’s first royalty check was for about two million dollars. That’s a lot of dough.

Speaking of dough – want me to show you how to make a pizza?

When the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie, that’s amore!


Pizza is kind of like making love.  Even when it’s bad, it’s pretty good.

First things first – if you’re gonna make your own dough, you gotta do it a day in advance.  There was a great deli in Baltimore named Mastellone that sold fresh pizza dough, and it was amazing, better than I could make myself. If you can find a great deli that has fresh dough, use it! If not, make your own, it’s a-not-a so bad!

This recipe will yield enough dough for 2 pizzas.

I make my own tomato sauce, it only takes about 25 minutes–my recipe is on page XX.  You can use bottled tomato sauce.  Either way, you’ll need about a ½ cup of sauce per pizza.

Unless you have a wood-fired oven, you’re gonna need a pizza stone.  You’ll also need a paddle to get the pizza on and off the stone – because that stone is gonna get really hot.  How hot?  Five hundred degrees.  That’s how hot your oven should be.  The pizza stone should sit in that hot oven for at least 30 minutes before you put a pizza on it.



For the Dough:

3 cups of bread flour, plus a little more for dusting

2 teaspoons turbinado sugar (turbinado sugar has a molasses flavor, but you can use regular sugar if you want)

1 ½ teaspoons of salt (this is one of those rare instances when I DON’T use kosher salt, I use table salt)

½ teaspoon rapid rise yeast

1 and 1/3 cups really cold water

1 tablespoon olive oil (plus a tablespoon for the kneading surface)

Corn meal for dusting the pizza paddle


1/2 cup of tomato sauce per pizza

Fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into thin slices, or shredded (about a cup per pizza)

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about ¼ cup per pizza)

Basil leaves (about ¼ cup per pizza)

If you want, you can add — sausage, pepperoni, cut-up meatballs, diced chicken cutlets, Feta cheese, Asiago cheese, provolone cheese, spinach, peppers, onions, shallots – feel free to get creative.

Here we go…

I do the dough by hand in a wooden bowl — it’s kinda sexy that way.

Put the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a wooden bowl.  Mix by hand, just a couple stirs.

Make a crater in the middle of the flour.  Pour the cold water in the hole, and start folding the flour over the water.  Mix by hand for a few minutes.

When everything is combined, and all the flour is soaked up into the dough, take the dough out of the bowl, roll it in a ball and put it back in the bowl.  Let it sit for 15 minutes, uncovered.

Then, make a small crater on top of the dough ball, and pour the olive oil in.  Fold the dough around the olive oil, so it blends in.  Work the olive oil into the dough for a couple of minutes.  The dough will be just a little sticky.

Lightly oil a large chopping block — or you can use your counter top.  Drizzle some olive oil onto a paper towel, and dampen the chopping block or countertop.  Don’t throw away that towel.  We’ll use it again momentarily.

Take the dough out of the bowl, and place it on the chopping block or counter top.  Let’s knead some dough!  Make your hand into a fist, and press your knuckles into the dough, and roll it around, form it into a ball, and do it again.  Knead, knead, knead.

After a few minutes, take that lightly-oiled paper towel and rub it on the inside of a large glass or ceramic bowl.

Shape the dough back into a ball, place it in the oiled bowl, and cover it tightly with plastic wrap.

Put it in the fridge for 24 hours.

Time to make some pizza…

Take the dough out of the fridge.  Cut it into two equal parts.  Roll each into a ball. Put both dough balls on a lightly oiled baking pan.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Put your pizza stone on the middle rack in your oven.

Turn your oven to its highest setting, 500 degrees.

Wait 30 minutes — for the stone to heat up and for the dough to settle.

Time to grab your dough balls.

Dust a chopping block or counter top with flour.  Grab a dough ball, put it on the block and flatten by hand into an 8-inch circle.

Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12-inch circle.

If you don’t have a rolling pin, do it by hand.  Start working the edges, using your fingers to spread the dough into a larger circle, until it’s about 12 inches.

You don’t want the dough too thick, or too thin.

If things get sticky — your hands or your rolling pin — dust with some flour.

After your dough is formed into a 12” circle, dust your pizza paddle with a little corn meal.  Corn meal will help the pizza slide on and off the paddle. Corn meal doesn’t burn at high temperatures like flour does. Dust your paddle with corn meal, and put your dough on the paddle.

Take a ladle of sauce, about half a cup, and spread it evenly around the dough in a thin layer.

Snip some basil leaves onto the pizza.  Add your mozzarella, spread it around evenly, and then sprinkle on the Parmigiano cheese.

If you have any other ingredients you’d like to add —sausage, peppers, olives, etc. — now is the time.

Now to the oven –



When your pizza is ready, open the oven, and slide the pizza off the paddle and onto the heated pizza stone.

Cook for about 10 minutes.

Then, check your pizza.  When the outer crust is light brown, and the mozzarella on top is browning and gooey, you’re done.

If the cheese needs a little help browning, turn on your broiler, and let the cheese brown — THIS ONLY TAKES A MINUTE OR LESS!

Grab your paddle, scoot the pizza off the stone and onto the paddle, and place the pizza on a platter. Eat it up! Then make another pizza with the second ball of dough. Go back, Jack, do it again. Use some different toppings! When it’s done…

Slice it up, serve it up, and sing a little song…

“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore!”