Savor the Flavor: Rhode Island-Style Pizza Recipe

I’m going to tell you about a pizza that’s close to my heart, one that has been passed down through generations– Great-Grandma Lepre’s 4th-Generation Pizza or as we call it, Rhode Island Pizza.

It’s a recipe that originated from the Italian immigrants who settled in my state of Rhode Island. And let me tell you, it has stood the test of time. This pizza is unique and beloved by all Rhode Islanders.

Some of you may have heard of this style of pizza, but for those who have not, let me give you an idea: it’s a crispy rectangular dough that’s light on toppings but bursting with flavor. The secret ingredients are the parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, pepper, and salt mixed into the dough.

I know many people believe New York-style pizza is the best pizza out there, but once you try Rhode Island Pizza, your taste buds will be forever changed. Trust me when I say this is a treat for your palate that must be experienced!

Get ready to travel to my little corner of America and try Great-Grandma Lepre’s 4th-Generation Pizza– it’s worth it!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Great-Grandma Lepre's 4th-Generation Pizza (Rhode Island Pizza)
Great-Grandma Lepre’s 4th-Generation Pizza (Rhode Island Pizza)

Pizza is universal – it’s an all-time favourite for most of us. But not every pizza is created equal, and that’s where Great-Grandma Lepre’s Rhode Island Pizza recipe comes in. This 4th-Generation Pizza Recipe dates back to the early 1900s, and has been passed down through a family lineage that cherishes food and cooking legacy. This pizza recipe combines the rich flavours of parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, pepper, salt and tomatoes with the simplistic dough made out of flour, yeast, sugar and water.

What sets this pizza apart from the rest is its unique style. The Rhode Island Pizza- also known as Grandma Pizza- has a crispy crust, similar to focaccia bread, but softer than New York-style pizza crust. The pizza strips are square-shaped and have a fluffy feel to them. This particular style of pizza makes it stand out from the varieties of pizzas available today.

You’ll be impressed with how easy it is to make this delicious pizza dough. All you need are some basic ingredients such as dry yeast, warm water, salt, granulated sugar and shortening. Combine this with some all-purpose flour and you’ll have a dough ready to be stretched into the perfect crust for your pizza.

Great-Grandma Lepre’s Rhode Island Pizza recipe is not just another recipe for homemade pizza; it is a tradition – passed on through generations – that has been perfected over time. It’s an excellent alternative from your average plain cheese pizza while still maintaining its greatness with simplistic flavours. Trust me; One bite of this will transport you to the family table where hearty meals over conversation hold prime importance.

If you’re looking to add a little bit of tradition to your next homemade pizza night, Great-Grandma Lepre’s Rhode Island Style Pizza Recipe is one for the books – a must-have on any pizza lover’s bucket list!

Ingredient List

 Behold the greatness of Great-Grandma Lepre's Rhode Island Pizza!
Behold the greatness of Great-Grandma Lepre’s Rhode Island Pizza!

Pizza Dough Ingredients:

  • Warm water (1 ½ cups)
  • Dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
  • Granulated sugar (1 teaspoon)
  • Salt (1 teaspoon)
  • Shortening (1/3 cup)
  • All-purpose flour (4 ½ to 5 cups)

Pizza Sauce Ingredients:

  • Olive oil (2 tablespoons)
  • Garlic (finely chopped, 2 cloves)
  • Crushed tomatoes (28 ounces can)
  • Oregano (1 tablespoon)
  • Basil (1 tablespoon)
  • Salt (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Pepper (1/4 teaspoon)

Toppings for Pizza:

You can add any toppings on this dough according to your preference. Here are some common toppings used in Traditional Rhode Island Pizza:

  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Sliced pepperoni
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Grated mozzarella cheese

These ingredients will provide great flavors of pizza toppings on your crispy style pizza.

The Recipe How-To

 Can you smell the heavenly aroma of fresh homemade crust, tangy sauce, and melty cheese?
Can you smell the heavenly aroma of fresh homemade crust, tangy sauce, and melty cheese?

Now that we have our ingredients ready, it’s time to put them together and make some delicious Rhode Island pizza. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make Great-Grandma Lepre’s 4th-Generation Pizza recipe:

Step 1: Make the Dough

To start making your pizza dough, combine 2 cups of warm water, 2 packets of dry yeast, and 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Stir this mixture until the yeast and sugar dissolve.

Next, add 1 tablespoon of salt and 3 tablespoons of shortening into the mixture. Now, slowly begin to add 5 cups of all-purpose flour into the bowl while stirring. Keep adding flour until you get a sticky dough. Put the sticky dough out onto a floured surface and begin kneading it until you get an elastic dough ball.

Step 2: Let Dough Rise

After you have a round dough, place it in a greased bowl and cover it with a napkin or towel. Allow the dough ball to sit for at least an hour in a warm place for it to rise or double in size.

Step 3: Prepare Your Pan

Preheat your oven to 450°F or turn the temperature up as high as it can go, depending on your oven. Take one pan (preferably square) and pour around 1/8 inch of olive oil into it so that the entire bottom is covered with olive oil.

Step 4: Spread the Dough

Take your risen dough or grandma pie and place it on a baking sheet coated with olive oil. Stretch out the dough, so it fills most of the pan but doesn’t quite reach the edges, leaving room for the sauce. There should be enough dough left over to form pizza strips.

Step 5: Add Toppings

Spread a can of crushed tomatoes over your crust, then add toppings like grated parmesan cheese, basil, oregano, sliced tomatoes and more cheese until it looks mouth-watering good.

Step 6: Bake Time

Lower your oven to 400°F and put your pizza into the oven for approximately twenty minutes; check it halfway through that time. Once out of the oven serve with any kind of salad, sides or dressing you would like.

There you have it – my Great-Grandma Lepre’s 4th-Generation Pizza recipe! Enjoy this delicious Rhode Island-style pizza on its own or with your favorite sides for dinner tonight.

Substitutions and Variations

 This pizza is a family treasure passed down for generations, with a special touch that makes it uniquely Rhode Island.
This pizza is a family treasure passed down for generations, with a special touch that makes it uniquely Rhode Island.

You can always tweak and customize the recipe to your liking! Here are some substitutions and variations that you can try:

– Toppings: Rhone Island pizza is versatile and can accommodate different toppings. Don’t limit yourself to just tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. You can add mushrooms, caramelized onions, sausage, green peppers, or whatever else tickles your taste buds.

– Cheese: If you’re not a fan of mozzarella cheese, switch it up with provolone, gouda or cheddar cheese. You could even do a mix of different types of cheese to create an explosion of flavors in your mouth.

– Herbs: Although oregano and basil are the go-to seasoning for Rhode Island pizzas, you may want to experiment with other herbs like thyme, sage or rosemary. Just remember that a little herb goes a long way.

– Vegan option: If you prefer vegan pizza, you can substitute the mozzarella cheese with vegan cheese brand. Add vegan toppings such as plant-based protein like tofu or tempeh or veggies such as broccoli and artichokes.

– Gluten-free option: For those who are gluten intolerant or allergic to wheat flour, you could substitute all-purpose flour with gluten-free flour brands such as Rice Flour or Almond Flour. Another alternative would be to use a pre-made gluten-free crust option based on yeast, nut flour or tapioca flour.

Overall, have fun experimenting! Rhode Island pizza was born out of experimentation. As Jeff Varasano states “the best pizza is made by those who obsess over details”, so feel free to make it your own masterpiece.

Serving and Pairing

 Trust me, one slice will transport you straight to the Ocean State.
Trust me, one slice will transport you straight to the Ocean State.

Great-Grandma Lepre’s 4th-Generation Pizza is excellent for any mealtime of the day. Enjoy it at dinner time or lunch, for a family gathering or as a quick snack. I recommend pairing this pizza with a lightly-dressed salad of mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and topped with your favorite vinaigrette.

For drinks, you can pair it with your preferred beer or preferred soda flavor, but I recommend a red wine like Sangiovese or Chianti if you want to elevate your dining experience. The acidity and fruity essence in the wine will blend seamlessly with the tomato sauce and overall flavors of the pizza. Moreover, the berry and spice notes will give a festive complement to the meal.

You can also serve some grated Parmesan cheese and freshly chopped basil on top of the pizza before serving it to enhance its flavors even more. Trust me; that brings an outstanding taste that complements well with everything else in the dish.

Great-Grandma Lepre’s 4th-Generation Pizza is versatile and various factors will depend on how you intend to serve it. Yo can make it thin crust for fancy pizza parties or make thick crust pizza strips for fun movie nights – either way it will be delicious.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 Perfectly browned and crispy, you won't be able to resist taking a bite as soon as it comes out of the oven.
Perfectly browned and crispy, you won’t be able to resist taking a bite as soon as it comes out of the oven.

If you want to prepare this great-grandma Lepre’s 4th-generation pizza ahead of time or store it for later, you can easily make the dough a day before and refrigerate it. Before baking, let it rest at room temperature for about an hour. You can also bake the pizza beforehand and reheat it later.

For those who want to make the dough ahead of time, there are things I recommend that you keep in mind. Firstly, ensure that dough has risen fully before you store it in the fridge; this helps give the crust depth after baking. Also, when storing your dough, make sure that you tightly wrap it in plastic to prevent drying out.

To reheat your Lepre 4th Generation Pizza, here’s a quick method using a microwave oven: place the slice on a microwave-safe plate and cover with a damp towel or paper towel, and heat for around 10 seconds (depending on your oven.) You can also reheat the pizza on a stovetop for more crispy results.

Reheating in an oven is preferred if you have more than one slice before you start reheating, preheat your oven to about 400ºF with an empty baking sheet inside so when you place your slices on top of the hot baking sheet they will become nice and crispy again as if they were fresh! Reheating times depend on how thick your slices of pizza are but typically takes between five to ten minutes. And now voilà! Your Great-Grandma Lepre’s 4th-Generation Pizza continues to be fantastic even after refrigeration or reheating!

Tips for Perfect Results

 Take a closer look at the mouth-watering combination of toppings - you won't find this flavor combination anywhere
Take a closer look at the mouth-watering combination of toppings – you won’t find this flavor combination anywhere

If you want to achieve perfection when making Great-Grandma Lepre’s 4th-Generation Pizza (Rhode Island Pizza), there are a few tips that will help you obtain the best results.

First, let’s talk about the pizza dough. Make sure to use warm water between 110 and 115 degrees Fahrenheit to activate the dry yeast. Be careful not to overmix or undermix the dough as this can affect its texture when baked. Use all-purpose flour, preferably bread flour for more gluten development, which will give your crust that perfect chewy texture that you desire.

Secondly, when it comes to toppings, be sure to use fresh ingredients. For example, opt for juicy tomatoes cut into thin slices with lots of basil and oregano, grated parmesan cheese, and a generous amount of olive oil.

Season your pizza with salt and freshly ground black pepper generously before putting it in the oven. Be creative with different toppings like vegetables or meat to provide variation for all types of eaters.

It is advisable to preheat your oven at 500°F degrees and use a preheated pizza stone or a heavy baking sheet for crispy crust texture.

Remember not to overdo the toppings as it could lead to sogginess, ruin your crust texture and make your pizza hard to cut or eat. It’s best if you strike a healthy balance between having enough topping while maintaining the right texture.

Lastly, allow your pizza to rest for some minutes before serving, cutting or adding chilled salad on it. The heat redistributes inside giving time for everything else to settle down thus easier cutting.

By following these tips while making Great-Grandma Lepre’s 4th-Generation Pizza (Rhode Island Pizza), you will be able to achieve the best possible results and satisfy all types of eaters with this highly flavorful, crunchy style pizza reminiscent of Rhode Island heritage.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, Great-Grandma Lepre’s 4th-Generation Pizza (Rhode Island Pizza) Recipe is a must-try. The recipe has been passed down through generations, and its reputation speaks for itself. The combination of fresh tomatoes, basil, oregano, and parmesan cheese creates a savory sensation that you won’t forget.

Moreover, the recipe is versatile, allowing for substitutions and variations to suit your taste. You can also make the pizza dough ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator or freezer for later use.

With these tips and recommendations on how to perfect this recipe, you can now create your version of the iconic Rhode Island-style pizza. Whether you serve it as pizza strips or grandma pie, it will not disappoint.

Don’t take my word for it; give Great-Grandma Lepre’s 4th-Generation Pizza (Rhode Island Pizza) Recipe a try yourself. I’m sure you’ll agree that this recipe is among the best pizza recipes out there.

Great-Grandma Lepre's 4th-Generation Pizza (Rhode Island Pizza)

Great-Grandma Lepre’s 4th-Generation Pizza (Rhode Island Pizza) Recipe

This was taken from South County Magazine, June 2010. Anyone from Rhode Island is familiar with this kind of pizza which is a family recipe of the Lepre family and served all over Rhode Island. It has no cheese – simply a risen bread dough with a very plain, fresh tomato sauce topping.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 3 hrs 30 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Fusion
Servings 2 pizzas
Calories 1608.4 kcal


  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 (1/4 ounce) packets dry yeast (check expiration date)
  • extra flour
  • additional warm water, if needed
  • olive oil
  • 1 (14 ounce) can tomatoes, crushed
  • salt
  • pepper
  • oregano
  • basil
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)


  • Using your hands, combine flour, shortening and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, mix sugar and 1/2 cup warm water.
  • When completely dissolved, add yeast and allow to foam up.
  • Add wet mixture into the well of dry ingredients.
  • Using hands, slowly bring flour mixture into the center, combining and kneading.
  • Gradually add 2 cups of lukewarm water as you continue to knead. If dough sticks to your hands, add more flour a little at a time. If it feels hard and resistant, add a little water. When this forms a ball, coat with a thin film of olive oil.
  • Cover loosely with a towel and let dough rise in a warm place 2 hours.
  • When risen, with dough still in the bowl, punch it in the center.
  • Separate into halves, and place each half oil side down on two pizza pans or cookie sheets.
  • Spread and stretch dough from the center out, being sure to leave a lip around the edge.
  • Cover loosely with a towel and allow to rise another hour.
  • When you’re ready to cook, preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Spread a thin layer of one can crushed tomatoes over the dough.
  • Add salt, pepper, oregano and basil to taste.
  • Leave as is, or sprinkle freshly grated parmesan cheese over tomatoes.
  • Bake 15 minutes, then check using a spatula to raise pizza and peek underneath.
  • Bake further until the crust is crispy and golden brown.

Your Own Notes


Serving: 1371gCalories: 1608.4kcalCarbohydrates: 315.6gProtein: 43.2gFat: 17.2gSaturated Fat: 3.9gSodium: 3510.5mgFiber: 14gSugar: 25.2g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Egg-free, European, Free Of…, Healthy, Lactose-free, Low Cholesterol, Vegan
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