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Watch: Making Hazel’s Creamy and Spicy Hybrid Pizza

The crowd favorite got a spring makeover

Chef Rob Rubba goes to town on the smoked onion ciabatta now served at Hazel in Washington, D.C.
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

One item under the “Breads & Batters” section of Hazel’s seasonally inspired menu jams a multitude of taste sensations — spicy, salty, crunchy — all into one bite.

The $14 “smoked onion ciabatta” turns out to be chef Rob Rubba’s take on pizza, featuring whipped ricotta, spreadable ‘nduja, olive oil jam, and spring green salad slathered on house-made ciabatta.

The aforementioned ingredients were originally tucked inside a buttery brioche donut, but Rubba retooled the offering this spring, producing what he believes to be a lighter and fresher version of the savory composition.

The brioche “donut” Rob Rubba created at Hazel.
[Warren Rojas]

Per, Rubba, the ingredients work more harmoniously when deconstructed and layered atop the griddled ciabatta — both in terms of taste and design — than they did in donut form. Rubba
, a nominee for Rising Culinary Star of the Year at this year’s RAMMY awards, broke down the dish for Eater.

Here are six takeaways:

MAKING ALL THE FLAVORS WORK: There’a lot going on in each bite, between the spicy ’nduja and and richness of olive oil “jam” fashioned from egg yolks and sugar. The grassy note from a “really good olive oil” helps cut through the heat, Rubba says. Finally, "the ricotta we make in-house is a creamy component that helps cool everything down.”

BETTER THAN CHICAGO PIZZA: “It’s everything Chicago pizza should be,” Rubba says, adding, “I lived there and could never get into their pizza. It didn’t do it for me.”

CRAZY SMALL FOOTPRINT: With ingredients sourced within 300 miles, this is Hazel’s greenest dish. The flour comes from Doylestown, Pa.; the ‘njuda is provided by sister restaurant Red Apron Butchery; the salt comes from J. Q. Dickinson Salt-Works out of West Virginia; the ricotta is made with local milk (and liquid nigari from Salt-Works); and the greens are plucked nearby from Little Wild Things, the urban farm located beneath The Pub & The People, Rubba says.

START WITH A PRIME BASE: Making ciabatta in-house takes time; including prep work, Rubba calculates each loaf takes 20 hours. Home cooks should go with a good bakery and make sure the outside crust isn’t too hard, because the dish is meant for biting straight into (watch Rubba’s valiant effort at the end).

Hazel, Ravines and Downtown

1 Peabody Street, , MI 48009 (248) 671-1714 Visit Website