Party in Five: Rustic Pizza Night

In the summertime, entertaining needs to be easy — so you have more time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the warm-weather eats. We set out to create fun, complete party experiences using only five essential ingredients, from tasty food and drinks to decor and games. Party on!

One of my absolute favorite ways to spend a summer evening is grilling pizzas in the backyard with my husband. It’s a fun, interactive way to enjoy cooking together, and the end result is so delicious. Recently we invited a few friends to join in on our tradition — letting everyone know that they’d be expected to participate in the cooking process. I set a simple, rustic table filled with fresh seasonal ingredients and woodsy elements for my farmhouse-inspired fete.

To host your own pizza night, you’ll need five essential ingredients:

  • Fresh pizza dough divided into individually-sized balls
  • Assorted toppings for making a variety of pizzas
  • A sturdy, sharp pizza wheel
  • Recipe cards for your guests to take home
  • Sunflowers for a summery centerpiece

Click here to see the party in action and get tips on hosting your own pizza night.

Endless toppings, endless wine, endless pizza. What's not to like?

The Menu

The great thing about this party is that it’s an interactive experience: all your guests get to pitch in and help with the cooking! Whether you’re grilling your pizzas or baking them in the oven, the first step is to remove your balls of dough (store-bought or homemade) from the refrigerator about an hour before the party so that they come to room temperature.

Next, prep the toppings. Since your guests will be building their favorite flavor combinations, it’s best to have lots of options from which to choose. I recommend fresh mozzarella, strips of roasted red pepper, crumbled Italian sausage (cooked), thinly sliced tomatoes, fresh figs, caramelized onions, thin slices of prosciutto, fresh arugula and torn basil leaves. I also offered two choices of sauces: a tomato-based pizza sauce and olive oil with minced garlic.

If you’re grilling your pizza, here are some secrets for success:

  • Prepare a gas grill with one side on hight heat and the other side turned to low heat.
  • After rolling out the dough as thinly as possible, brush with olive oil and place the oiled side down onto the hottest part of the grill. Close the hood for one minute. After a minute the dough should be puffed up and bubbly, with visible grill marks on the bottom.
  • Using a large spatula, flip the crust over and onto the cooler part of the grill. Quickly cover with pizza toppings of choice, leaving a one-inch border. Immediately close hood and cook for another three to four minutes until the cheese melts.
  • Transfer pizza to a cutting board and cut into wedges.

No grill? No problem! You can accomplish similar results using a pizza stone and a very hot oven. Here’s how:

  • Set a pizza stone in the bottom rack of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees. Allow at least 30 minutes for the pizza stone to heat up — the goal is to simulate a brick oven atmosphere.
  • After rolling out the dough as thinly as possible, transfer to a lightly-floured pizza peel and cover with a thin layer of the toppings of your choice.
  • Slide the pizza onto the hot stone, and let it bake about eight minutes until the bottom is nice and crispy. Remove from the oven, let stand for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a cutting board and cut into wedges.

Get more tips and see this party in action here.

Camille Styles is the founder and editor of lifestyle blog, where she shares creative entertaining ideas for parties and everyday life. She also owns Camille Styles Events, a design and planning firm that transforms ordinary events into extraordinary experiences.