Pizza Bolognese


Seriously, I could eat this pizza every day and be a very happy camper! It is the ultimate comfort food.

When you have a really busy day or work day and you find yourself facing starting dinner at 7:30 p.m., what do you do? Well, you can go out for dinner—and sometimes that’s the best way to decompress from your day. Or you can make what you’d planned to make and eat at about 9:30 or 10 p.m. But, if you have some pre-made pizza dough or crust in your fridge or freezer, a delicious pizza can be only a few short minutes away. I love making pizza, either planned in advance or as a quick go-to because, much like a frittata, it is a great way to use and enjoy leftover meats and veggies in your fridge.

The pizza I’m going to show you today, however, happens to be one that is far from using leftovers, because this little pizza features the most amazing bolognese sauce I’ve ever tasted. And why wouldn’t it be? After all it’s a family recipe from one of my favorite bloggers, Chicago John of the Bartolini Kitchens, and I really encourage you to click on his Sugo alla Bolognese to see how to make it for yourself. John’s instructions are easy and thorough, so I will just show you the three stages of my sauce below, the beginning meat and veg, the middle simmer and the decadent and rich finished sauce. It’s a relaxing process, one during which I felt almost like I had John and Zia in the kitchen with me looking over my shoulder, and the result is SO worth the time. Making this sugo has completely changed my ideas about how a truly great pasta sauce really deserves a homemade pasta to go with it. So now I’m looking forward to trying John’s method for different homemade pastas and breaking in my new pasta machine…stay tuned.

Meanwhile, back to how this sauce and the pizza came together. I made this fabulous bolognese for the first time last weekend and we enjoyed it so much that it was hard not to just eat it straight out of the pot when it was done! After we feasted on this sugo with purchased pasta, I froze some for later (hopefully to go with my own homemade pasta) and I also put about a cup or two of it in the fridge to have ready for a quick lunch or dinner when I needed it. Then I started thinking about all the dishes I’d ever tasted that involved Bolognese sauce, and how inferior they were to the real deal. Most recently, I’d had a pizza “Bolognese” from a local pizzeria, which was nothing of the sort since it didn’t actually have a meat sauce on it. That’s when it hit me. I could stretch out my cup of sauce by trying it on a pizza. (John, I hope this doesn’t make you cringe.) And it was truly transformative! Even using a pre-made crust on a busy night, it tasted better than you could possibly imagine…unless you’ve made this bolognese sauce yourself.

So here’s my version of a Pizza Bolognese, and I hope you will try it by making some of John’s Bolognese. It really ticks all the little comfort food boxes for me. From now on, whenever I make Sugo alla Bolognese, there will be a portion assigned to a pizza, too!

Pizza Bolognese
Makes 6 slices

1 – 12-inch ready to use pizza crust
1/4 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup of Chicago John’s Sugo alla Bolognese, warmed, (or in a pinch, you can use a high quality purchased bolognese meat sauce, or a marinara with your own cooked and crumbled Italian sausage added to it, which will be good, but not Pizza Bolognese!)
6 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and small diced
1/3 to 1/2 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
4 oz. white button mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
4 oz. buffalo mozzarella cut into small pieces, about 3/4 – 1 inch in size
A fresh grating of fresh parmigiano reggiano (optional)

Garnish: A sprinkling of fresh arugula leaves (optional)

Preheat your oven to 475 degrees F with your pizza stone in the center of the oven, or if you’re using a cookie sheet or pizza pan, place your rack in the center of the oven.

Place your prepared crust on a pizza peel sprinkled with a little cornmeal, or directly on the cookie sheet or pizza pan, if using that. Sprinkle the olive oil onto the crust and rub it around the edges with your hands and over the surface, distributing as evenly as possible. Next, spread your Sugo alla Bolognese sauce evenly over the pizza. I like to spoon mine out in quadrants, then spread it. Sprinkle the sun-dried tomatoes evenly over the sauce, then the red onion slices, then the mushrooms. Top the pizza with the mozzarella, spacing it evenly across the surface. Grate some parmigiano reggiano over the top of the pizza, if you like, it is terrific with and without.

Place the pizza onto the hot stone (I usually sprinkle a little more cornmeal on the hot stone before I place the pizza on it to bake), or place your cookie sheet or a pizza pan with the pizza into the oven. Bake the pizza for 10-12 minutes, until the cheese has browned but not burned and the crust is a golden brown, too. Remove the pizza from the oven (with the peel if you’re using one), and slide it onto a cutting surface. Cut into 6 slices and serve.

Note: If you like a little salad on your pizza, you can sprinkle the top with a few leaves of peppery fresh arugula…again it’s nice with, or without!

If you like, you can add a sprinkle of fresh arugula leaves to the finished pizza for a little peppery bite!

And on another note: Tomorrow we actually start work on replacing the chimney…two weeks after I said it would begin. All should go fast now, relatively speaking, which means about 4-5 weeks of work and contractors coming and going. Fortunately we have our kitty kids to help us put this in perspective!

When your feeling stressed and like your world is upside down, it's good to have Thumbelina help you put things into perspective!

When you’re feeling stressed and like your world is upside down, it’s good to have Thumbelina help you put things into perspective!


36 thoughts on “Pizza Bolognese

    • Hi Mandy…yes I don’t know how we would have survived the last couple of years without our fur babies. They have the immediate effect of lowering one’s blood pressure! 🙂 It’s funny, but I work from home and yet find myself sometimes not getting to the kitchen to make that meal until 7:30! Thanks for your kind comments and best wishes for the chimney. Fingers crossed all the rain we’re having here won’t delay the process.


  1. Bolognese is one of my favorite sauces to make! My hubby would be thrilled to have it on homemade pizza as well. Love that idea!

    Also, love your kitty…Thumbelina looks like the sweetest girl. 🙂 Best of luck with the chimney as well!


    • Hi Allison! Thanks for your great comment. Bolognese is my husband’s favorite sauce and as soon as I saw John’s post I knew I was going to make this version…I’ve made others but they couldn’t compare! It really is super on a pizza. Our Thumbelina and her sister Cinderella are both very sweet girls. They get us through a lot of stress! 🙂


  2. As if John’s lovely posts aren’t convincing enough Betsy, your beautiful tribute sure is! As soon as I’m back in the city, I’ll head down to my butcher to pick up the ingredients for this amazing sauce! And I know John won’t cringe at your clever use of his rich recipe, in fact, I’m certain he’ll be over the top flattered. There is nothing better than a slow cooked home made pasta sauce and using it as the base for your impromptu pizza was genius! I usually have a pizza dough frozen in the freezer but that needs time to defrost and bring up to room temperature, which gave me a fantastic idea to freeze half baked pizza shells! Thanks for the idea.
    Good luck with your chimney rebuilding, glad it’ll be done before the fall, just in time for lovely fires!


    • Eva, thank you so much for your kind words. You’ll love this sauce! Bolognese is my hubby’s fave and I’d told John I’d bookmarked it to make…it just took me a while to get to it! But it’s soooo good. I love your idea for half baked pizza shells. I have a small side by side freezer in my fridge, but I think they might fit if I adjust a bit! We were out hunting for new fireplace surround and hearth materials today. Can’t wait for this to all be behind us and to just enjoy living (and working) in our home again. 🙂


  3. Yum. I would eat that. I hardly make bolognese sauce anymore because I’ve been going through a meatball obsession at the moment. I’ve always loved bolognese on rice, though pizza seems much more logical.


  4. Don’t you just love Chgo John. He has the best recipes and I love how genuine and authentic and reliable they are. This pizza looks amazing and what a wonderful topping. If I made that there would be no leftovers xx


  5. Bartoli family recipes are always delicious and you kicked it up one more notch with this gorgeous pizza. I also love rocket on my pizzas too! Sometimes it is difficult to separate yourself from work when you work from home and have some fast solutions whether you work at home or at an office is a great way to stay ahead of the game. Take care, BAM


    • Hi Bobbi, I hope you are feeling better! Once I tasted rocket on pizza, I couldn’t stop putting it on there. I love my salad with my pizza! 😉 It’s true, sometimes it is hard to separate from work, working from home. I’ve had a lot of experience with it as I’ve been doing it for 25 years now, but still somedays are longer than others!


  6. You are too much, Betsy! Thank you for such a glowing review of our recipe and for the tip about using it on pizza. What a great idea! I no longer use sauce on my pizza, using chopped canned or fresh tomato instead. Now, though, I think I’ll use Bolognese, too. Talk about a “meat lover’s pizza!”
    Thank you again for being so gracious. I’m really glad that you enjoy this sauce so much that you’ve made it your own, using it in ways we never considered. I cannot wait to mention this to Zia, especially your feeling of the 2 of us in your kitchen with you. She’ll get a kick out of that. 🙂


    • Hey John, and you are most welcome for the review, and thank YOU for being so gracious. I got a little excited over your Bolognese, can you tell? 😉 Both my husband and I just loved it…on pasta and obviously on the pizza, too. I hope you do try it on a pizza…the bits of sun-dried tomatoes especially bring out the flavor of the meats in that scenario. We’re about to have construction dust all over the house and then painting, so it may be a little while before I can tackle the pasta or homemade cheese, but they are on my short list, too. Please give Zia my best! 🙂


  7. Mm, that last photo looks so delicious (no, not the cat… the one with the rocket (sorry, arugula))! I’m trying to think if I’ve had a bolognese pizza before… something about the idea of it seems familiar but actually I don’t think I have – sounds great!


    • Well, the cat does look deliciously relaxed…

      You know, sometimes I call it rocket and sometimes arugula. In the States most people do call it arugula, but for some reason I only refer to it as “rocket” when it’s pulled from my own garden. Alas, no garden so far this year with so much going on. I think you’d love this pizza, Charles, and I can’t emphasize enough how terrific John’s sauce is…on pizza or otherwise. 🙂


  8. Glad your chimney is finally getting done. It is going to be a challenging period but when it is all done, I am sure it will be gorgeous.
    Great idea using John’s sauce on the pizza. Love the rocket on top.


    • Hi Norma and so glad you like the pizza. I love rocket on mine and nearly always put some on every pizza. It is all jackhammers, cement mixers and falling brick here today, but it’s exciting to be making some progress! 🙂


  9. So, I’m a little late in trying this recipe… But I have to say… Oh…. My….. Gosh…. This is fabulous!!! It hasn’t even fully cooked down, and the taste is absolutely delish. I can’t wait another 2 hours to eat! And tomorrow night, oh yeah, it’s going on pizza on the grill… I’m totally in love with this.. 🙂


    • I know, it is really terrific, isn’t it? You just can’t imagine it gets any better as it cooks down, but it does! We’re having some I froze with some fresh pasta for dinner tonight, as a matter of fact. 🙂 Thanks for your comment, Pru, and I hope you enjoy the pizza, too!


  10. Ahhh… I love Thumbelina:) John’s got many of my favorite recipes and many that I’m dying to try, like this one. I’ve never thought about using it for pizza, but that’s such a brilliant idea, Betsy. Now I’ve got two great reasons to try making my own Sugo:) Good luck with your chimney!! xx


    • HI Barb! Thumbelina is quite the character, as is her sister Cinderella. I will try and catch a shot of Cinders for my next post, but she is flighty! 🙂 This sugo is really worth the time to make and it freezes beautifully. We had some last night that I thawed, warmed and tossed with fresh pasta and it is truly amazing. I think I have enough left frozen for one more pizza, too! 😉


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