The Gourmet Pizza and Christmas Vacation

Happy Friday and welcome to Pizza and a Movie! Today’s pizza recipe is a fresh take on “The Gourmet” pizza from Escape From New York Pizza in San Francisco. I started working at Escape back in 1996, I was 20 years old. My last shift there was in 2005. Escape’s Gourmet Pizza is red sauce, mozzarella, spinach, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and feta cheese. My Gourmet Pizza is a little different…

The gourmet pizza

We are cooking it in a skillet, for one. Secondly, we are not using any tomato sauce. I am swapping baby arugula for the spinach and we are using marinated artichoke hearts. Lastly, we are adding olive tapenade after it comes out of the oven.

The Prep

gourmet pizza ingredients

All of these ingredients are from Trader Joe’s. But the equivalents can be found at your local grocery store, too. Let the dough sit out at room temperature for about 20 minutes and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. TJ’s dough is a little sticky, so I like to lightly flour a surface and press the dough into a 9-12″ round shape before I lay it in my oiled cast iron.


Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 15 minutes and move to the bottom rack for 3-5 minutes.

finished gourmet pizza

Use a spatula to lift and check the doneness of the bottom, and if it’s to your liking, slide the pizza onto a cutting board and top with the olive tapenade.

Gourmet pizza slices

I like to use a pizza blade to cut pizza because a wheel cutter tends to pull toppings as it rolls through the pie. A blade rocks side to side, so it cuts cleanly and easily.

Movie Night: Christmas Vacation

Alright! Pizza is ready so let’s get to the movie. This may be an obvious choice, but National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation is another must-watch Christmas movie. Few comedies make me laugh out loud, and this movie does it every time! It’s hard to choose a favorite scene, but I love the scene when Clark and Cousin Eddie are drinking eggnog out of the Marty Moose mugs from Wally World.

What kills me every time is seeing Cousin Eddie wearing that thin white sweater with the ridiculous black dickey! There are so many jokes in this movie, whether it’s in dialog, action, or expression. Christmas Vacation came out in 1989 and it’s been a tradition in my family to watch it at Christmastime ever since.

Wood-Fired Oven Update

The construction of the wood-fired oven is almost finished! A lot of progress over the last week…

Today they are removing the wood framing and tidying up the fit and finish. Very exciting!

Pizza Memories

I hope you enjoyed today’s Pizza and a Movie! As I mentioned at the top, My Gourmet Pizza recipe is based on a pizza from a place near and dear to my heart. Escape From New York Pizza is a San Francisco institution, open since 1986. I owe a lot to the EFNY partners for teaching me through their example, how to be a good employee, a good manager and to treat people well in the workplace and in life. I have taken these lessons with me through all of my professional endeavors.

Thank you all for stopping by today. In case you missed it, check out last week’s Pizza and a Movie. You can follow me on Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook too!

The Gourmet Pizza Slice

The Gourmet

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Dinner, Main Course, Lunch American
By Kelly Djalali Serves: 2-4
Prep Time: 10 Minutes Cooking Time: 15-18 Minutes Total Time: 25-30 Minutes

Arugula, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and feta cheese on a mozzarella base, topped with olive tapenade. Baked in a cast iron skillet. A new twist on a classic Escape From New York Pizza.


  • Ratios of the Toppings are Your Personal Preference
  • 1 pre-made Pizza Dough
  • Olive Oil for greasing the skillet
  • Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
  • Baby Arugula
  • Marinated Artichoke Hearts
  • Sun Dried Tomatoes
  • Feta Cheese, crumbled
  • Olive Tapenade



Let dough sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes and preheat oven to 450 degrees.


Place dough on a lightly floured surface and sprinkle more flour on top. Press dough out into a 9"-12" round shape.


Lightly grease bottom and sides of skillet with olive oil and lay dough inside.


Sprinkle a generous amount of mozzarella.


Followed by arugula, artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes and feta.


Bake on the middle rack for 15 minutes, then move to the bottom rack for 3-5 more minutes.


Use a spatula to lift and slide the pizza out of the skillet onto a cutting board.


Top with olive tapenade and slice.

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  • Sylvia Espinoza
    December 18, 2020 at 9:55 am

    Wow!!! What a post today! My cup runneth over…lol! You gifted us with so much. Thank you! A lovely share about yourself. A mouth-watering pizza recipe. An update on the wood-fired oven. And the Christmas Vacation movie! Our sons grew up with it, and to this day, can break out reciting the lines from every scene. “Eddie? Eddie?” when Clark realizes who’s shown up is one of our favorites. Fun memories. You’ve made my day, Kelly! Hugs~

    • Kelly Djalali
      December 18, 2020 at 10:22 am

      Thank you, Sylvia! Yes, today’s post was quite a stroll down memory lane for me. I struggled with how to write about the impact Escape From New York Pizza has had on my life- without being too verbose! LOL! But I am happy to share my experiences with you. Thank you so much for being a part of this blog and sharing your experiences with me, too! xo Kelly

  • Deanna
    December 18, 2020 at 10:45 am

    Heading to Trader Joe’s now! This pizza looks great!! Thanks for sharing a slice of your personal life. Can’t wait to see what you create in your wood fired oven. Loving the Friday night pizza and a movie feature. Happy holidays to you and your family.

    • Kelly Djalali
      December 18, 2020 at 10:50 am

      Hi Deanna, Let me know how the pizza turns out for you! We are very excited about all the things we can cook in that oven! I am so happy you’re enjoying the Pizza and a Movie Fridays. Thank you so much for stopping by and writing in today! A very happy holiday to you and yours, xo Kelly

  • Judi Hume
    December 18, 2020 at 12:29 pm

    Everything that Sylvia said, Kelly! Thank you so much! I look forward to trying this recipe, and that’s one of my favorite movies, too! 🙂

    • Kelly Djalali
      December 18, 2020 at 1:03 pm

      Hi Judi! The Vacation movies are classics! Thank you so much for your support, I am so happy you’re enjoying the blog ☺️ Have a great weekend! xo Kelly

  • Terry
    December 18, 2020 at 1:10 pm

    Another great one thanks Kelly we will try this one for sure ❤️Mom

    • Kelly Djalali
      December 18, 2020 at 1:14 pm

      Thanks, Mom! I knew you’d like this one! xo Kelly

  • Kathy L Davis
    December 18, 2020 at 5:50 pm

    Oh this looks fantastic. Thanks so much. The pictures you post are phenomenal.

    • Kelly Djalali
      December 18, 2020 at 5:51 pm

      Thank you so much, Kathy! I sure do enjoy it. Thanks so much for stopping by today, have a great weekend! xo Kelly