potato pancetta arugula pizza

So potato pizza, not a very well known pizza topping in the USA, but being Italophiles, it is a familiar part of our out of country experience in Rome. Williams-Sonoma had a 3x5 index card recipe for a potato-pancetta-arugula pizza that bob snatched during one window-shopping visit, and it got stuck in the Williams-Sonoma heavily photographed and storied Rome cookbook that bob could not resist for more than a few months before breaking down and making the in-store purchase.

The catalyst for action was the delivery of our annual whole wheat pizza crust box that we order every year from the sister-in-law to help support the Armenian Sisters Academy preschool thru eighth grade Catholic school just up the road from us where our various Armenian-American nieces and nephews get a pretty cheap but pretty good academic preparation considering the many nearby Main Line private schools with prices that almost rival elite college tuitions. While maintaining their Armenian cultural and linguistic ties. The profit from their pizza drive from our 3 pizza crust box with its low fat mozzarella cheese packets and not so good tomato sauce is pretty insignificant, but we have invested quite a few significant dollars in helping support their tuitions over the years as generous kid-free uncle and aunt so we don't worry about only ordering one box.

Then Linda, our friend who does a lot of medical translation for Italian-Americans who don't have a good enough command of the English language to navigate the health care system, not to imply that native English speakers have a significantly better chance of doing so, was telling us at our pizzoccheri dinner about her elderly client with whom she had to spend a lot of time waiting, and so was using picture books to spark conversation and pass the time. bob pulled out the Rome cookbook as just what the doctor ordered (dr bob that is). And grabbed the potato pizza card so it would not get lost during the lending period.

So the premade crust was ready to go (defrosted in the refrigerator overnight) and the recipe was there for general inspiration. dr bob made a last minute just before closing time visit to Carlino's for the pancetta and arugula, and scored big with a really peppery arugula that came out from storage since the shelf space for the product was empty. Not having checked the recipe before shopping, no fontina cheese was bought to conform with the recipe suggestion, so we had to go with the grated low fat mozzarella cheese packet instead. The recipe called for doing a thin crust and baking on a really hot pizza stone on a grill. bob did not really understand the grill aspect of the execution, so we just ignored it and winged the oven baking part on our pizza stone. We've done whole wheat crust ourselves, but let's face it, a premade crust saves a lot of energy in the kitchen after a long day at the office/lab/workout session (ani did the "Muscle Challenge" at her work fitness center before coming home for dinner).

We prepared an accompanying salad to round out the meal: some sliced cucumber, halved grape tomatoes, one chopped green onion, a handful of arugula, and our usual salad dressing of olive oil, lemon juice (from a plastic yellow bottle), pressed garlic, dried mint, fresh pepper and Middle eastern red pepper, crushing the garlic into the rest of the ingredients with a pestle (mortar and pestle) in a bowl. A little Italian red wine left over from a previous dinner.

We assumed couch potato supper position and tasted our experiment. Terrific! The best pizza we have made in ages. Don't be afraid to try it.


1 whole wheat pizza crust (make it from scratch if you must)
2 medium potatoes (we used Yukon gold), cleaned with skins and carefully sliced at maximum 1/8 inch slices
salt for the potato precooking
2 slices (thickness less than 1/8 inch, say 3/32 inch) of pancetta, diced
6 oz approximately of grated fontina cheese or your favorite substitution
olive oil
a handful of peppery tasting authentic arugula (sharp pointed jagged leaves, not rounded)
freshly grated pepper to taste.


  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F with your baking stone on the lower middle shelf.
  2. Prepare the potato slices and drop into a pot of boiling water about 2 inches deep with a small hit of salt, say 1 tsp max. Cook only 6 minutes or so when it returns to a boil, checking frequently so they do not get too soft and break apart. Remove and drain on a rack.
  3. Meanwhile, chop the pancetta and sauté it in a pan over medium heat for a few minutes (5-7?) to crisp it up a bit but not too much. Remove from the heat when ready.
  4. Spray or baste the pizza crust lightly with olive oil, then spread 2/3 of the cheese around evenly, and arrange the potato pieces to cover the cheese. Then arrange the pancetta pieces evenly on the potatoes, and sprinkle the remaining cheese over that.
  5. Bake for about 12-14 minutes roughly, but watch it and adjust the baking time to your preference for the crust you are working with.
  6. Remove from the oven and sprinkle the pre-washed arugula around the top evenly. Cut and serve.


  1. Williams-Sonoma Grilled Potato and Pancetta Pizza with Arugula (2007).
  2. Armenian Sisters Academy, Radnor, PA.
  3. Main Line, philly burbs.
  4. Illustrations available.
potatopizza.htm: 25-jan-2010 [what, ME cook? © 1984 dr bob enterprises]