I tasted my first slice of pizza on a brilliantly sunny summer day on a busy boardwalk in a crowded seaside town. I sat on a white bench facing the ocean with my big sister, while sunburned tourists and cool looking teenagers angled for position on the beach in front of us. My sister had just taken me for a ride on the tea cups, and she promised me I would like this strange new food. All that dripping cheese – how could I not?

That slice of pizza came from Grotto Pizza in Rehoboth, Delaware, but it could just as easily have been Gio’s in Oak Bluffs. I realize not everyone has a “first pizza slice” memory, but associating pizza with carefree summer days is nostalgia worth holding on to.

Susie Middleton

Of course my idea of the perfect pizza has morphed many times since then, perhaps peaking with the grilled pizza I learned to make at Al Forno restaurant in Providence, R.I.. Grilled pizza (so, so delicious) is a group activity; once you get all the ingredients set up beside your grill, it’s fun for everyone to take a turn at flopping the dough onto the grill, flipping, and topping with their own favorite combos. Mine? Quick-Roasted Plum Tomatoes, Bacon, Blue Cheese and Thyme. For casual summer entertaining, there’s nothing better than grilled pizza. Try it out with just the family, following our detailed directions in this Grilled Pizza Master Recipe, and take it from there.

My next pizza milestone was working with L.A. chef Evan Kleiman on a pizza story for Fine Cooking magazine. She left me with the gift of her easy, make-ahead food processor pizza dough, which I have taken full advantage of over the years. I’ve made my way through more pizza stones and more ovens than I’d like to admit, evolving my own pizza recipe inspired by hers. You can check out my detailed directions in Homemade Pizza with Vineyard Toppings — and find lots of other pizza topping ideas in All We Are Saying is Give Pizza a Chance.

Randi Baird

Years later, when I was writing my fourth cookbook, Simple Green Suppers, I wanted to capture my pizza love in a quick weeknight recipe. And though grilled naan pizzas are decidedly not real pizza, they do offer that toasty crust-meets creamy cheese-meets umami flavor and texture that makes pizza so compelling. Try this Grilled Naan Pizza with Whipped Feta and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes; then customize your own grilled naan.

Susie Middleton

By the way, that Whipped Lemon-Thyme Feta is a workhorse; combine it with grilled bread to make Grilled Toast with Whipped Lemon-Thyme Feta and Summer Squash

Randi Baird

You’ll note that I’ve conveniently skipped over some pizza memories - those from high school of Celeste frozen pizzas and Stouffer's French Bread Pizzas that I used to make for snacks. (Thankfully culinary school interrupted that trajectory!) Though I did get a smile when I discovered cookbook author Cathy Barrow’s bold update of her own high school memory, the pizza bagel. Check out her Puttanescizza Bagel recipe.

Linda Xiao

Whether you buy it or make it, here’s to a summer of great pizza memories!

P.S. Have you seen the great story on baker Korilee Connelly of Mo's Lunch in the latest edition of The Vine? Read "The Modern Baker" and start lining up for those doughnuts on Saturday mornings — plus pies, cookies, brownies and bars, Tuesdays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

What's Open on the Vineyard


Goldie's Rotisserie food truck is back for the summer at the Thursday and Sunday Artisans Festivals at the Grange Hall.

• You can pick up an herb garden container kit free at the West Tisbury Public Library on Friday. The giveaway will begin at noon and last until supplies run out. No reserved kits.

• The first West Tisbury Farmers' Market of the season is planned for Saturday, June 11, at the Agricultural Society fairgrounds.

And don't forget, you can find a complete list of open restaurants — as well as farm stands and retail stores — at What's Open on Martha's Vineyard.