When producer/director R.J. Cutler, whose 2009 documentary The September Issue won a Sundance Film Festival award, went house hunting in the Hollywood Hills, he couldn't have guessed it would lead to new friendships and a spectacular outdoor living space. Two of the friends are his real estate agent, Kate Blackwood, of Deasy/Penner & Partners, and her husband chef Alberto Lazzarino. Kate located the property for R.J. and worked on the initial stages of the historic house's rebirth (a classic 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival), then R.J. brought in designer Lory Johansson of Just Joh and Ergo Design Works for the next phase.
Lory first renovated the indoor kitchen, then R.J. became enamored with a friend's outdoor pizza oven and decided he needed a way to cook and entertain outdoors. The two-level design Lory came up with turned a parking area along the street into a dining pavilion and bar. A mudroom not original to the site was removed and the spot was transformed into an L-shaped outdoor kitchen. Now, just a few steps from the house, R.J. has everything he needs — a Viking grill, side burner and rotisserie, two undercounter fridges, and an Earthstone pizza oven.
Says chef Lazzarino, "We all became great friends and as soon as we could, we began having wonderful parties there. The outdoor kitchen happened later, with the pizza oven, and it gave the space a fantastic energy. The bouquet of colors and the aroma from the pizza in that beautiful garden — well, it's a seduction for a really special party!" Below is a recipe from the chef for one of his specialty pizzas.
DOUGH (Makes four 12-inch pies)
- 4 c. unbleached flour (I like Caputo mill)
- 1 tsp dry yeast
- 1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 + 1/3 c. water (at room temperature)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- freshly grated black pepper
TOPPINGS (For one pie)
- 1 c. of grated mozzarella
- 1 medium Maui onion (they are sweet and delicious)
- 1 link of sausage
- 4-5 banana Russian fingerling potatoes (but any other kind will do the job)
- spring of fresh rosemary
- extra virgin olive oil
-With your hands or with a kitchen-aid machine, mix the dry ingredients together. To the side, let the yeast dissolve into the warm water then add the olive oil.
-Combine ingredients and mix for about 10 minutes.
-Let the dough rest (10-15 minutes) covered with a kitchen towel or just plastic film (it's important that the dough doesn't get dry).
-Start the kitchen-aid machine again at low speed and mix again the dough again for another 10 minutes.
-Let it rest, and repeat the process one more time.
-Cut the dough into four pieces and shape into balls with your hands over a lightly floured surface.
-Refrigerate for at least one hour, then let the dough rise a bit at room temperature before using.
-Slice the onion (and please stop crying, it doesn't help at all!) and in a pan cook it slowly with a bit of olive oil until it turns golden brown. Let it cool off.
-Blanch the potatoes in water, peel 'em, and slice 'em.
-Let's do it: First, of all make sure that the oven has reached a temperature of 650-700 degrees F.
-Shape the pie (about 12 inches across), add your previously cooked onions and potatoes.
-Remove the casing from the sausage meat and crumble it all over. Add the mozzarella, a sprinkling of rosemary leaves and a light drizzle of olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste.
-Bake for about 3-4 minutes keeping an eye on it, making sure that nothing goes wrong (do NOT burn your food! You have worked way to hard for it!)