I love this simple, humble steak dish “alla Pizzaiola” aka “the pizza maker’s” steak. This recipe hails from Naples, Italy. The story is that it’s the perfect dish for the pizza maker to make for a quick dinner, sauteeing thin cutlets of beef then quickly simmering them in a tomato sauce made with a few pizza toppings.
My version uses thick-cut strip steak, making for a beautiful presentation where fancy and humble meet. The beefiness of the strip steak pairs so nicely with the umami from the anchovy and the crave-able bright tomato sauce. Charred olive salsa verde adds a hint of briny lemony finish to bring this dish together.
Tagliata is the Tuscan way of slicing and serving thick cuts of roasted strip steak with lemon and extra virgin olive oil.
1 thick-cut Westholme NY Strip Steak
coarse sea salt
black pepper, freshly cracked
30g (1 oz) extra virgin olive oil or rendered Wagyu fat
1 sprig rosemary
30-60g (1-2 oz) Roasted Garlic and Anchovy Butter (recipe below)
Pizzaiola sauce (recipe below)
¼ cup Charred Olive Salsa Verde (recipe below)
handful fresh basil leaves
freshly shaved Pecorino Romano
1 medium head garlic, roasted
half lemon, juice only
450g / 1 lb butter, softened
salt, to taste
15g (½ oz) extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 pinches red chilli flakes
2 fillets brown anchovy, chopped
15g (½ oz) capers
5 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup Italian-style tomato passata or crushed tomatoes
¼ cup basil, plus more leaves to garnish
half lemon, juice only
few pinches dried oregano, wild Calabrian if available
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
230g (8 oz) mixed pitted olives, drained
1 large clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 smallish lemon, zested and cut into segments
1 tbsp Calabrian chillies, sliced or chopped
¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chiffonade
Season the steak liberally with coarse sea salt and black pepper all over. Let the steak rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Heat a medium-sized cast iron pan over high heat. Once the pan begins to smoke slightly, lower the heat to medium-high. Add the extra virgin olive oil and gently rotate the pan to allow the oil to evenly spread in the bottom of the pan.
Place the strip steak in the pan and sear for 3-4 minutes. Tilt the pan towards you and use a large spoon to gently spoon the rendered fat over the steak to baste in its juices. The steak should have a nice and even sizzle. Monitor the heat as you want to keep the constant sizzle - lower the heat if you see the oil begin to smoke. Flip the steak and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes, spooning and basting the oil over the top. Check the steak with a thermometer: cook to 52C / 125F for medium rare.
Remove the pan from the heat, add the rosemary sprig and top the steak with a nice dollop of the Anchovy Butter (recipe below). Allow the steak to rest with the melting butter on top for 4-5 minutes before slicing.
To plate, place the Pizzaiola Sauce (recipe below) in a shallow casserole or platter.
Using a sharp slicing knife, slice the strip steak into 0.6cm / ¼ in pieces. Season with a few more pinches of coarse sea salt. Place the sliced steak on top of the sauce. Top with the charred Olive Salsa Verde (recipe below), fresh basil and a few shaves of Pecorino Romano. Spoon a bit of the melted anchovy garlic pan drippings over the top of the dish. Serve.
Squeeze tender roasted garlic cloves into a food processor, add anchovy fillets and lemon juice. Process until the mixture resembles a paste.
Add softened butter and a few pinches of salt.
Keep in a cool place until ready to use. This makes enough for several steaks so save for the next use.
In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the sliced garlic and toast for 30 seconds, then add the chilli flakes, anchovy and capers. Cook for another 30 seconds or until the garlic is golden and fragrant.
Add the cherry tomatoes, cook for a minute, stirring to allow the tomatoes to blister.
Add tomato passata and season with a few pinches of salt. Simmer for 2 minutes until thickened.
Add basil, lemon juice, oregano and a drizzle of olive oil. Taste and season if needed. Remove from heat and reserve in a warm place.
In a small sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add drained olives and let them sear and char, about 4 minutes. Gently shake the olives in the pan to allow them to sear all over. Remove the olives to a platter to cool, leaving the olive oil drippings in the pan.
Place the pan back on medium heat, add the sliced garlic and stir continuously, allowing the garlic to crisp and turn golden brown.
Remove from the heat and add lemon zest: the residual heat will light toast the zest too. Place the mixture in a small mixing bowl.
Once the olives have cooled, coarsely chop them and place in a bowl with the lemon and garlic. Stir in the Calabrian chilli and lemon segments. Stir in the parsley and reserve until ready to serve.
"I love this simple, humble steak dish “alla Pizzaiola” aka “the pizza maker’s” steak."