Frankie Avalon, well-known entertainment legend of both the screen and the stage, is stepping into the culinary world with a new cookbook. Inspired by the Italian classics of his childhood, “Frankie Avalon’s Italian Family Cookbook” brings to life the homey Italian kitchen of his younger years. Woven together by family history and an honest love for cooking, Avalon takes Italian classics and makes them his own. We’re sharing his Mom’s Tomato Pizza, a classic to make at home and very kid-friendly!

Mom’s Tomato Pizza

Makes 8 Servings

tomato pizza recipe

Before you could buy a pizza on every corner, my sister Theresa and I would look forward to when Mom would make her special pie at home. Don’t expect this to replicate the thin round pie at your neighborhood place. The dough (which is the same one used for American-style white sandwich bread) is pressed into jelly-roll pan and baked to make a thick and puffy rectangle topped with nothing more than crushed canned tomatoes. I suppose that you could add some shredded mozzarella and herbs if you like, but then it wouldn’t be the same pie that we two young kids would eat in a single sitting.


One 28- to 25-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice


  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup water
  • One ¼-ounce package active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more bowl, pan, and dough
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1½ teaspoons fine table salt
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more as needed


  1. Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from the heat and stir in the water. Pour the liquid into a small bowl and let it cool until warm (105° to 115°F, or like bath water). Sprinkle the yeast into the bowl and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve the yeast.
  2. Pour the yeast mixture into a large bowl. Stir in the oil, sugar, egg yolk, and salt. Gradually stir in enough of the flour to make a stiff dough that cannot be stirred. (To make it in an electric stand mixer, mix the yeast mixture, oil, sugar, yolk, and salt in the mixer bowl. Using the paddle attachment, with the mixer on low speed, gradually add enough flour, as necessary, to make a soft dough that cleans the sides of the bowl.)
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead, adding more flour as necessary, to make a smooth, soft, and elastic dough, about 8 minutes. (Or change to the dough hook on the mixer. Knead, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes.)
  4. Lightly oil a medium bowl. Shape the dough into a ball. Transfer the dough to the bowl and turn to coat with the oil. Turn the ball smooth side up and cover the bowl with plas­tic wrap. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour. (The amount of sugar in this dough makes it rise quickly.)
  5. Lightly oil a 10 by 15-inch jelly-roll pan with 1-inch sides. Punch down the dough and transfer to the pan. Pat and stretch the dough to fill the pan. If the dough springs back, cover it loosely with plastic wrap, let rest for 5 minutes, then stretch again. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand until the dough looks puffy and almost doubled in volume, 20 to 30 minutes.
  6. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
  7. Drain the tomatoes in a colander, discarding the juices. Coarsely crush the tomatoes with your hands. Spread the tomatoes over the dough, leaving a ½-inch border. Lightly brush the dough border with oil. Bake until the pizza bottom is golden brown (lift up the corner with a metal spatula to check), 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool slightly in the pan. Cut the pizza evenly into rectangles and serve hot.

tomato pizza recipe

Frankie Avalon’s Italian Family Cookbook” comes out October 6, 2015. For more delicious Italian recipes, head to your local book store or login to Amazon and order it online.

For more delicious recipes check out our Food & Drink section.

Start a Conversation

Your email address will not be published.