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What's Up Magazine

Malibu Pizza by Philly Flash

Feb 28, 2011 11:30PM ● By Ashley West

Malibu Pizza by Philly Flash
1901 West Street, Annapolis

And we agree after falling in love with a tasty Malibu Pizza from Philly Flash, located in the contemporary 1901 West development in Annapolis. The family-owned and operated lunch and dinner hotspot recently celebrated its one year anniversary; and if the delicious menu of signature cheesesteaks, subs, pasta dishes, super rolls, and, of course, specialty pizzas are any indication, Philly Flash has many more years ahead. Owner and menu master Joseph A. DeCesaris shares his preparation and presentation for the perfect veggie pizza—the Malibu—which he says, “has an excellent flavor profile, and is very adaptable to your own taste.”

What’s Up?: How did your culinary career begin?

Joe DeCesaris: I actually started cooking on a stove top when I was six and have been at it ever since. My mom was a big influence—with nine kids she always cooked on high! Growing up in an Italian entrepreneurial family, it seemed like a lot of business ventures brought in good food. My dad opened the Classic III restaurant and nightclub back in the seventies, and, of course, we worked at the concession stands at the drag strips he opened with Mom’s brothers. That’s where we get our classic car and drag racing theme, we all grew up around it. Cooking and food has always been a passion. I love to try new techniques and recipes.

WU: Describe the culinary influences present in on your restaurant’s menu?

JD: I love Philly cheesesteaks, brick oven pizza, and pasta. My Italian heritage comes into many dishes.

WU: How did you come to open this restaurant?

JD: I have had the name “Philly Flash” in my head for over 25 years, my wife loves to tell customers about that! The concept has been with me for just as long. Cheesesteaks have been my favorite since I got my driver’s license. My background is real estate development and home building. I specialized in negotiations and contract law. When the real estate market got soft over the past few years, I had the opportunity to open the Flash.

WU: What do you like most about your job?

JD: Streamlining the process of food prep. Since we’re fast casual, we want to be as efficient as possible. I like running and organizing my kitchen. Consistency is essential and we make it our number one goal.

WU: Are there any special cooking techniques/ingredients/utensils/cookware used for this dish?

JD: Not really, other than our blend of mozzarella/provolone cheese, which is pretty unique. We use fresh vegetables and our special Flash seasoning to finish.

WU: Is this recipe a traditional recipe or have you modified it?

JD: It’s pretty traditional other than the seasoning, which is available in our store now.

WU: How difficult is this dish to prepare at home?

JD: It’s so easy even a caveman could do it. 

WU: Is there a particular wine/drink that goes well with the dish?

JD: I would suggest ice cold beer, but a red or white wine would be great as well.

Malibu Pizza

One 14-inch pizza

1 fresh dough ball (available pre-made at most grocers)
1 cup tomato sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella/provolone
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup diced tomato
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup sliced white mushroom
1/2 cup sliced black olives
pinch of seasoning

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 1) Knead dough ball and shape onto a round 14” cookie sheet. Spread tomato sauce over dough, followed by cheese. 2 & 3) Dice and chop vegetables. Generously top pizza with vegetables and sprinkle seasoning over entire pizza. Bake in oven for 12 minutes on middle rack, or until the crust is golden brown on the bottom. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes.

Joe’s notes when making Malibu Pizza:

“Any cookie sheet will work. You can get fresh dough balls right at the grocery. Use your favorite red sauce and your favorite cheese—at the Flash we use a 50/50 mozz/prov blend. Use as little or as much as you’d like. Also, you can use any vegetables you’d like. We had a great harvest season this year and this recipe is perfect for fresh seasonable vegetables. Top it off with a shake of your favorite spice—we sprinkle ours with our Flash Original Spice Blend, a special mix I created for the restaurant [available for sale at Philly Flash]. It really brings out the flavors in the vegetables.”