You hear pizza, you think cheese that flows like roof tar; pepperoni slices cupping in the oven, filling with grease; and a crust so overladen with toppings it droops like sorrow when you try to lift a slice.

These half-dozen pizzas are different. We designed them to be elegant and summery, but full of flavor. Only one has a foundation of red sauce, and all of them get flavor from good-quality cheeses: smoked mozzarella, chèvre, Gorgonzola. Also, they’re vegetarian, in a totally inconsequential way that avoids dogma, allowing instead for maximum pleasure.

Any one of them is right for serving out on the deck, with a bottle of rosé chilled to a coldness that makes your throat ache after the first sip. Summer.

Brush the uncooked crust with chipotle purée (a whole can of chipotles in adobo sauce, blended smooth with the addition of a tablespoon or so of olive oil). Spread out a couple of handfuls of grated Jack cheese, some grated smoked mozzarella, a few cherry tomatoes, and julienned peppers (we used red bells and green poblanos). After the pizza comes out of the oven, sprinkle with Yucatecan pickled red onions and chopped oregano or cilantro.

Spread the uncooked dough with grated smoked mozzarella, very thinly sliced raw red or fingerling potatoes, salt, and chopped fresh thyme. After baking, brush the crust with a little olive oil and scatter watercress leaves dressed with a simple lemon vinaigrette.

On the unbaked dough, scatter fresh figs that you’ve halved or quartered and crumbled chèvre goat cheese. When it comes out of the oven, brush the crust with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with chopped fresh thyme.

Make basil pesto and set aside. Spread some of this on the uncooked pizza dough, add a layer of sliced fresh mozzarella, very thin slices of yellow and green summer squashes, salt, and thinly sliced red onion. After baking, brush a little olive oil on the crust, and sprinkle the whole pie with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Spread an uncooked crust with a bit of crushed tomato, preferably San Marzanos. Spread a big handful of grated fontina cheese, sliced fresh mozzarella, crumbled Gorgonzola, and thinly sliced red onion. After baking, sprinkle with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Brush the unbaked dough with a little olive oil. Add slices of mixed heirloom tomatoes; salt and pepper them. Sprinkle with crumbled Gorgonzola. After baking, brush the crust with olive oil and sprinkle the pizza with Italian parsley leaves.

Photos by Chris Rochelle; styling by Chris Rochelle and Fernanda Schlender

See more articles