Few things are as soul-satisfying as a really good pizza -- and we're not talking about the ersatz stuff in the freezer case or the limp, lukewarm pies dragged from the back of a delivery van. We're talking the real thing, with gooey cheese, fresh toppings and a crisp, blistered crust. Mmm.

You can make that perfect pizza at home, with a little help from chef Jeffrey Amber from The Forge in Oakland's Jack London Square.

  • It's all about the pizza dough, Amber says: "Always start with the best dough, whether store-bought, from your favorite pizzeria or made by hand." (You can buy balls of pizza doughs from some pizzerias. Who knew?)

  • "Don't be afraid to go out on a limb with the toppings, as long as you are using the freshest products possible," he says. "Potatoes, broccoli, green garlic and roasted corn are just a few toppings you might not normally think about."

  • Heat is your friend. There's a reason pizzaiolos love their wood-fired ovens: They're blazingly hot. For home cooks, Amber suggests setting your oven as hot as it will go and using a pizza stone. "Heat," he says, "equals crispy deliciousness!"

    Classic Margherita Pizza

    Makes one 13-inch pizza

    9 to 10 ounces of pizza dough

    4 ounces good-quality tomato sauce

    5 or 6 fresh basil leaves

    3 ounces fresh mozzarella or mozzarella curd, drained

    Extra-virgin olive oil

    1. Place a pizza stone in your oven. Preheat oven to 450 to 500 degrees -- the hotter, the better.

    2. Roll out dough to desired size and thickness.

    3. Top with tomato sauce, basil leaves and cheese.

    4. Bake pizza for 6 to 8 minutes, or to desired level of doneness. Cut the pizza into slices, drizzle with olive oil and serve.

    -- Jeffrey Amber, The Forge