A lot of recipes I read for pizza dough call for a mixer. Is that the best way? If so, which mixer should I get? I've seen the kitchen aid and a electrolux. What else should I consider?
You don't need a stand mixer, but it's a shortcut for those of us who don't like kneading the dough. You could also use a bread machine (most have an option to mix and kneed, but not bake), or a food processor (use a dough blade), or just knead by hand.
If you look, you can find some no-knead, or at least less-knead pizza dough recipes, and there's some styles of pizza crust that are more biscuit like than what most people think of as pizza. (It's popular in Maryland, and it has the advantage that you don't have to wait or things to rise, etc, so there's no advance planning necessary other than pre-heating an oven).
As for brands of mixer ... I won't get into that discussion, as I haven't owned enough of them to be able to give a good comparison. Just make sure it has a warranty or a return policy, as my neighbor had some problems with the first model she bought ... she ended up going with a different brand because of all of the problems.
You don't NEED a mixer, but if you're making a lot of dough it certainly can speed things up. Also if you don't have a nice stand mixer and do a lot of baking they are well worth the investment.
As for picking I would stick with one of the well known brands. I've my Kitchen Aid for nearly 10 years and love it. My mother's lasted 30 years before she burned out the motors and replaced it with a new one of the same.
I've heard positive things about both the Electronolux and Cuisinart, but I've never used either personally.
Nope! Check out Jim Lahey's no-knead pizza dough. Really easy, simple, requires little of your time, and no special equipment needed (you can use a cookie sheet for the pizza stone. Won't be quite as as good, but i still love it). The dough still has to rise for a while (Jim Lahey lets the yeast do the kneading, instead of having to do it yourself), so you gotta plan ahead. I've only made the pizza dough recipe from his book, which hasn't been released online, but this one is fairly similar: http://tastingtable.com/entry_detail/99/Jim_Lahey_reveals_his_recipe_for_no-knead_pizza_dough_.htm
BTW, I'd really recommend his book. It's awesome for beginning bakers. Made my first bread out of it 6 months ago, and I still make bread from the same recipe weekly for some bonified foodies who love it.
I've made several hundred batches of pizza dough over the last 7 years. The short answer is no, you don't need a mixer to make great pizza dough. There two main reasons you should consider using one though:
Consistency - If you mix your dough for a specific period of time (say 8 minutes), you'll be able to do that more consistently. Mixing by hand is a little more subjective.
Ease - If you're making large batches of dough, it'll make your life easier.
KitchenAids are the most common. But I've found they can be a little bit of a pain because the hook doesn't always cut through the ball of dough. Instead, the ball just bounces around in the bowl. The Electrolux DLX line, although more expensive, is a better mixer for making pizza dough.
There are also fork mixers (I believe Santos makes a great one). You'll be able to make great pizza dough with any of the three.
Much as I love my KitchenAid, you don't need it for pizza dough. I typically use this recipe (with half whole wheat flour): http://thepioneerwoman.com/tasty-kitchen/recipes/main-courses/basic-pizza-crust/ -- and don't bother hauling out the mixer, even though she uses it. Easy as pie and really fast.
As the others have said, you definitely don't need a mixer for pizza dough. I don't have a fancy mixer at all, but I did start off trying to use a regular hand mixer with the dough hook attachment. I thought it was a pain, so I tried kneading by hand the second time. It was much easier and worked just as well. On a side note, do you have a baking stone for your pizza? I noticed that made a huge difference in the texture of the dough.