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Adam Atkins: A Pizza Chefs Take on Perfecting Marinara Pizza

freshly cooked marinara pizza - salvo 1968
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Adam Atkins: A Pizza Chefs Take on Perfecting Marinara Pizza

Marinara pizza, characterised by its simplicity, is one of the most common pizzas in the world. The dish has only a few ingredients: tomato sauce, fresh garlic, oregano, drizzled with olive oil.  Its preparation respects traditional methods, focusing on the quality of these few ingredients. 

Marinara pizza holds a special place as one of the earliest and most authentic forms of pizza. Its origins trace back to Naples as far back as the 18th century, embodying the region's culinary tradition and simplicity. 

But even a dish with few ingredients can be tough to master. That’s why we met up with one of the hottest names in pizza to find out what exactly it is that makes the perfect marinara.


Adam Atkins Pizza Chef - Salvo 1968Adam Atkins Pizza Chef - Salvo 1968

Meet Adam Atkins, an exceptional pizza chef with a unique culinary journey; a man celebrated in the pizza-making world. 

Adam's pizza-making journey began post-2014 after losing his delivery job. Embracing his role as a new father and an enthusiastic chef, he transformed his passion into a profession, starting with a bicycle-based pizzeria in St Albans and later expanding with a custom-built van, earning recognition for having the best-looking food truck at the 2022 British Street Food Awards. His pizzas, inspired by Neapolitan style, use ingredients from Salvo 1968 and local-grown vegetables. He values the skill of hand making pizzas and has garnered attention from celebrities and the public alike.

Adam values the art of hand making pizzas, focusing on quality ingredients supplied by Salvo. His philosophy is grounded in authenticity and a deep appreciation for traditional Neapolitan techniques.


The Chef's Perspective on Marinara:

For Adam, Marinara pizza is more than just a plain tomato pizza; it's a very technical dish that demands attention and care. He emphasises the importance of balance in the sauce, the right amount of seasoning, and the quality of the dough and making sure the pizza does not dry up and burn.

“[It’s] a very technical pizza…you've got nowhere to hide.” 

Marinara pizza thrives on simplicity, with each ingredient playing a crucial role. Key components include high-quality tomatoes, fresh herbs, well-prepared dough and a good amount of high-quality olive oil. 

Because there are so few ingredients in the Marinara, each ingredient has to be of the highest quality - as Adam says, ‘there’s nowhere to hide!’. He uses a local supplier of Italian herbs whilst opting for Rega tomatoes for the pizza sauce base.


Adam’s Tips on Ingredients:

Adam advises a generous use of ingredients like garlic and olive oil to enhance flavours, underscoring the importance of balance and quality in preparation.

“Freshly smashed garlic. I like to smash it fresh. A whole clove and then a good lug of olive oil. Like, like at least like two to three times more to stop it drying out than you would with a margarita”

Adam includes using extra tomato sauce and oil to prevent dry spots and domes forming.

“A hard one to get right, so you need like a little extra, extra sauce…two spoons or like a spoon and a half worth of sauce.”

Followed by 

“A good lug of olive oil…… If you don't get that, you can end up with this big dome, big dry spot.”

He points out common errors like uneven sauce distribution or incorrect oven temperatures, which can affect the pizza's outcome. Adam then recommends specific oven types and settings to achieve an authentic bake, such as a high-temperature pizza oven for a crispy crust with his go-to supplier for pizza ovens being Gozney.

He suggests precise timing and temperature control to ensure the pizza cooks evenly, retaining its flavours and achieving the perfect crust.

Attention to the crust's texture and overall flavour balance is key. Adam's approach ensures a crispy crust without burning the ingredients and maintaining the Marinara's moist tomato base. 


Serving and Pairing

Adam goes on to recommend serving Marinara pizza fresh out of the oven for the best experience. He suggests adding a sprinkle of fresh basil at the end, rather than baking it, to avoid burning and to give the pizza the classic neapolitan aesthetic.

“If you bake it, because it hasn't got the cheese and the fat, and the moisture of that, sort of like, Stopping it from burning, because otherwise the basil burns.”

“You can be all fancy and you can put a nice big sprig in the middle.”


Marinara getting drizzled with olive oil - Salvo 1968Marinara getting drizzled with olive oil - Salvo 1968

“Yeah, so there you go.”

For more details on Adam Atkins' backstory and rise to fame, visit the full article on Hertfordshire Mercury here.

And for the full video interview with Adam, head over to the Salvo Youtube Channel or click here for the video.