November 29, 2017 |

Secrets of the Dough Masters: Nancy Silverton, Pizzeria Mozza and Brian Spangler, Apizza Scholls

By Pizza Expo

Pizza crust whizzes appear March 21 at Pizza Expo

Nancy Silverton, Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles

Nancy Silverton, Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles

During the past 10 years a number of new pizza superstars have emerged throughout the country. They’ve helped elevate the stature of pizza beyond everyday comfort food to something that can also be very special, even memorable.

Two of these stars are Nancy Silverton, of Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles, and Brian Spangler, of Apizza Scholls in Portland, Oregon. I’m very excited that both agreed to join me on the stage at Pizza Expo 2018 to talk about all aspects of their pizza vision — and especially about their doughs, which are distinctly different from one another and also from those of pretty much everyone else.

It has long been my contention that at least 80 percent of what separates a merely good pizza from a transcendent, great one is the crust. (Some have even said it’s 90 percent.) While Nancy’s pizzas are equally famous for her creative and amazing topping concepts, I still believe that Pizzeria Mozza would not have emerged as one of the greatest pizzerias in the world if it were not for her crust.

Brian Spangler, Apizza Scholls, Portland, Oregon

Brian Spangler, Apizza Scholls, Portland, Oregon

I know from having seen how this dough is made that it is not a simple process. (If it were, everyone would be copying it.) Nancy was the founder of LaBrea Breads, perhaps the greatest success story of America’s artisan bread movement, and she follows sound artisan-bread principles with her pizza dough. Perhaps we’ll be able to learn from her just what guided the choices she made in creating her formula, which produces one of my absolute favorite Neapolitan-inspired, wood-fired pizzas from anywhere in the world.

Brian Spangler also emerged from the artisan bread community, translating his skill and understanding of fermentation into a dough that works in the style of traditional New York and New Haven pizzas. It does not rely on wood-fired ovens, performing instead in high-powered, standard deck ovens. Doing business in Portland, a city as competitive as they come for restaurants, food trucks and especially pizza (I can think of three — no make that four — pizzerias in Portland alone that score in my top 20), Apizza Scholls consistently ranks among the greatest American pizzerias on nearly every national survey. Again, it all begins with the crust, and with their great toppings as a bonus, everyone I’ve sent to Apizza Scholls has called the experience memorable.

So as you can see, I am really looking forward to spending an hour-plus with Nancy and Brian when we all gather in Las Vegas for Pizza Expo 2018. I hope many of you will join us as well. As I’m sure you all agree, it’s never too late to learn something new.

Peter Reinhart is the author of “American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza” and host of, a video Web site devoted to the search for perfect pizza. He is a faculty member and baking instructor at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, NC. He’ll host Nancy Silverton and Brian Spangler at Pizza Expo on Wednesday, March 21, from 9:45 – 11 am.

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