Tucked away in the middle of Baton Rouge is a pizza parlor which serves a very unique style of pizza.. It closed temporarily during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. With a sigh of relief, the restaurant opened again last summer. For years, Fleur De Lis Cocktail Lounge has been a favorite late night gathering spot for an eclectic assortment of people as well as local sports teams celebrating afternoon games. The restaurant serves a distinctive square, thin crust pizza termed “Roman pizza.” You either like this style of pizza and become addicted to it or never return for another slice. Well, I happen to love the pizza. I’m going to attempt to make a similar pizza at home. Here is my adaptation of the pizza ready to go into the oven.
When the Fleur de Lis establishment was purchased in 1946 by Joseph Guercio and his wife, Annie Distefano Guercio, it was located on Government Street on a gravel road in Baton Rouge. At this time, the pink stucco cocktail lounge was considered to be “out of town.” My how times have changed! The location is now part of the “Mid-City” area of Baton Rouge and well within the center of the sprawling metropolitan area.
The restaurant was originally a cocktail lounge named “Fleur Di Lis.” The new owners kept the French name even after their thin crust pizzas soon became the main menu item. The story goes that the new owner (in 1946) began making small pizzas as an appetizer using pie tins. The little pizzas quickly gained in popularity and eventually the restaurant became known as a pizza establishment. The owners began using larger cookie sheets which were brought from home.to make the pizzas. Hence the pizzas were square — or rectangular ones cut into square pieces. And little has changed — from the 1940’s-type table and chairs, to the juke box, pin ball machine and the wonderful wooden bar. And when I went there this past year, the restaurant still didn’t take credit cards — cash or check only!
Round the World Pizza
Fleur Di Lis’s most popular pizza is termed the “Round the World” pizza and includes ground beef/Italian sausage as the base and cheese, anchovies, mushrooms, pepperoni, salami and onions as toppings. Yes, anchovies are a must for an authentic experience. There is only a small “touch” of pizza sauce on this pizza. The meat is layered onto the thin pizza dough crust first and then on go the toppings with Provolone cheese at the very top. And the meat and toppings go all the way to the edge of the crust. Not a bit of crust is showing. The pizza has a cracker crisp crust. It is baked in a 500 degree oven on a conveyor belt for six minutes according to one reference (see below). The crust is crispy and the cheese is brown but not burnt. Yum, I keep going back.
I decided to try to make a copycat pizza. As a disclaimer, it is not the same as Fleur de Lis’s pizza, but my own thin crust pizza adaptation.
For the crust, you can either make homemade pizza dough or purchase a loaf of frozen bread dough and use this for the crust. (They are very similar.) Although I often make my own pizza dough, it is much easier to skip this step and purchase frozen bread dough. A one pound loaf (there are typically three loaves to a package) is enough to cover a 12″ x 15″ cookie sheet.
Let the dough defrost and rise in an oiled bowl on the kitchen counter until the dough doubles in size. This can take about four hours. I suggest starting the prior evening. I use my cell phone to take photos to keep track of when the dough has doubled in size.
Stretch the dough out onto an oiled cookie sheet, 12″ x 15″. The dough is very elastic but it will stretch out. Let the dough “rest” for several minutes at a time and then stretch it again until it makes it to all the corners and edges. The dough will be very thin — but this is a thin crust pizza — and it does stretch.
Pizza toppings. There are endless topping for pizzas. The most popular Fleur de Lis pizza contains ground beef/Italian sausage, Provolone cheese, anchovies, mushrooms, pepperoni, salami and onions. The restaurant also serves several unique pizza toppings including pineapple and shrimp.
For my pizza I used ground beef as well as thinly sliced onions, bell peppers and pickled banana peppers just for a little punch. The ground beef used by the restaurant is a very, very find grind. Probably Italian sausage, removed from casing and broken up, is more authentic than typical grouind beef.
To make the pizza, brown the ground beef adding tomato paste and Italian seasonings. Then spread the beef to the edges of the dough and layer on the toppings.
The cheese is the very top layer of the pizza. For cheese, Fleur de Lis uses provolone cheese. I used one pound of Provolone cheese – that’s alot! Next time, I will reduce the cheese to eight ounces.
Baking the pizza. The pizza is baked in a hot 500 degree oven for just six minutes. My crust turned out very well-browned with the toppings heated but not burnt!
My pizza turned out great. It is so very rich, you only need a few small slices. If you are a thin-crust pizza lover, this is a great pizza idea. I am glad to see that the Fleur Di Lis restaurant is still in business. Having a pizza meal in their restaurant is a “step back in time” and a real treat. Brings back many memories. Enjoy a homemade version!
Thin Crust Pizza
- 1 (1 lb) frozen bread loaf such as “Ready Dough”
- 1/2 lb ground beef
- 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 small white onion, peeled and sliced in thin slices
- 1/2 bell pepper, seeded and sliced in thin slices
- 8 oz thin Provolone cheese slices
- 4 oz drained, canned banana peppers (optional)
Method and Steps:
- Prepare the pizza crust: Remove the frozen bread dough from freezer. Oil a large bowl and place frozen loaf in bowl. Cover with damp cloth and let rise for about 4 hours until double in size.
- When ready to make pizza, pre-heat oven to 500 degrees. Oil a 12″ x 15″ cookie sheet.
- Stretch dough onto cookie sheet. Stretch to edges. Let dough rest for several minutes at a time and continue to stretch until dough reaches all edges.
- In skillet, brown ground beef. Add tomato paste and Italian seasoning. Stir well, turn heat down and simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Drain browned beef and place on top of dough.
- Arrange white onion slices and bell pepper slices on ground beef.
- Arrange Provolone cheese slices on top.
- Sprinkle on drained banana peppers, if using.
- Place pizza in 500 degree oven and bake for six minutes.
- Remove from oven. When cool enough to handle, slice with pizza slicer into 24 pieces.