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Steak Pizzaiola Recipes

I am shocked to say this, but before this weekend I had never had it. Had it during a wedding's cocktail hour and really liked it. Just the right amount of sauce and the steak was cut small, but very tender. I decided to look up the recipe and checked a few places and almost all differ on the tomatoes. Some say chopped plum tomatoes. Some say canned plum tomatoes sans juices. Some say can of plum tomatoes in their juices. Some even call for the addition of bell peppers and cheese. The one I had was very simple. Tomatoes and steak, but with a wonderful garlic and oregano aroma and flavor.

So what's the consensus...and what kind of steak. The article differs on this. I had skirt, but think sirloin would be the way to go.

Any recipes? I am going up to visit some family and would like to give this a try.

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    1. re: todao

      If I'm having a rib eye, i'm not masking it's fatty goodness with tomato sauce...no way

    2. We had this all the time when I was growing up, and it was the bane of my existence primarily because steak Pizzaiola's main objective was to disguise tough and gristly meat. Maybe it was a blade steak, but it certainly wasn't a sirloin, a rib eye or a skirt steak. My mother also would cut potatoes into wedges and add those to the bottom of the pan the steak was cooking in. I think that the tomatoes were blended to make a smooth sauce, and there were certainly no bell peppers or cheese.

      1. For a sit-down dinner, place a thick slice of toasted Italian bread down on the place. Top that with sauteed peppers and onions in a chunky tomato sauce. Grate some parm over that. Then top with your simple seasoned and grilled boneless rib-eye, cooked to medium rare and sliced thing after resting. I agree with Roxlet - it may have originated as a use for cheap meat, but you could definitely use the flavors to do something special.

        1. This is a very plebiean dish, even in Naples today, and certainly was when I was growing up, when just about anything (pork chops, etc) was done ala pizzaiolo. Thin steak, pan seared in olive oil. Remove. A few whole, peeled garlic cloves and maybe some crushed red pepper flakes into the pan fat for a minute or so. Then, peeled, canned plum tomatoes from Italy--you can use crushed (not pureed) or whole, which you crush by hand before putting int the pan. These need not be san marzanos; I do like the Rienzi brands packed not in puree, but in juice. The taste is noticeably fresher, brighter, and lighter. Cook the tomatoes and garlic for 5 minutes with some salt, and a big dollop of the best, loudest dried oregano you can find--preferably from the stalk. No other herbs, no onion, no cheese, no peppers or mushrooms (though thinly sliced red and green peppers make a nice addition to pork chops pizzaiolo). Steak and its juices back in until steak's done. You can always reduce the sauce separately, but it should not be dense or jammy. Serve with potatoes pan fried separately in olive oil, good bread, and a little green salad.

          1 Reply
          1. re: bob96

            I was thinking of doing a slightly larger steak and then slicing it before topping it with the sauce. I did read something that said to use a good amount of oregano (one suggested fresh and dried). I personally don't like Rienzi products, but would probably go with the canned plum tomatoes. I can't imagine some mushrooms not adding to the dish though.

          2. If you're undecided about what cut of beef you want to cook with, try a piece of veal instead (on the bone). With veal, you have a better chance of it being tender. The aroma that comes from veal pizzaiola is second to none. Your ingredients list should be simply: veal, salt and pepper, chopped fresh garlic, dried oregano, diced yellow onion, chopped plum tomato (sans juice), EVOO, and a scant sprinkling of Romano cheese. The recipe is kind of like you're topping a pizza, hence the name "pizzaiola". Try a slow braise for best results, and serve with rice (a risotto perhaps) or polenta.

            1. My husband grew up on steak pizzaiola. His grandmother used rib eye, brisket, flank steak, shirt steak and T-bone; whatever was on sale that week. The sauce was her own, jarred each summer but she added beef broth to the liquid, fresh basil and garlic to the pot. My husband recalls that meat cooking for HOURS..as in all day. Turns out it was no more than 3; depending on the generosity of her butcher. But the idea was to create a thin sauce which was poured over some pasta and for the meat to be fork tender and shredded over the sauce/pasta dish. To make a steak stretch for an entire large family.

              Today, the recipe, which I've seen on many restaurant menus, is about braising and creating a fork tender steak with rich, delicious red sauce using one steak per person.

              1. I use London Broil or some other steak that I didn't really want to buy, but it was too cheap to pass up. Although lately I tried hangar and also flatiron which I wanted to get out of the freezer and they were both a hit. I've also used bone in blade, you have to bake that on low for a good couple of hours to make it edible.

                I cobbled together a recipe that is mostly white wine, tomato sauce and beef broth with 2 spoonfuls of oregano, with the addition of a parsley pesto/olive/anchovy kind of concoction, which my husband said was very much like his beloved Grandmother's. Or else it's just because he loves anything that had pesto involved! Always served over cappellini with the sauce separate, and meat on the side. Oh and it has to have some frozen peas and mushrooms that were sauted in the sauce, per my husband's childhood memories. Anyway it's a darn good meal once in awhile, if a bit salty the way I make it.

                1. Here is Lidia Bastianich's fresh take on the dish. It may not be exactly what you had at the wedding but it's worth trying.


                  1. The absolute best choice is top blade steak. It's the perfect amount of collagen and meat for a tomato braise. I recommend slicing up a few all purpose potatoes (peeled and 1/4" slices) browning them and the meat the first. Then let it braise in a can of plum tomatoes (1 can for every 6 blade steaks) with their juices. Right at the end add some frozen peas. Grated pecorino Romano and crushed red pepper and you're in heaven.