Pie’za Pizzeria opened a little over a year ago in Niagara-on-the-Lake, a picturesque town and top tourist destination in Ontario. The restaurant was once a house and has been converted for commercial use. It’s a fitting location for a pizzeria that serves homestyle fare, namely Neapolitan pizza.
The Pie’za name is a reflection of this too. Even though it works with pie (as in pizza pie) and ‘za (slang for pizza), it’s really the colloquial pronunciation of paesano(paesà) that truly reflects the pizzeria’s ethos. The definition of paesano is “fellow countryman” but it also means “rustic, homey and genuine”.
This ethos is apparent in Pie’za Pizzeria’s menu as it follows the principles of the Vera Pizza Napoletana (VPN) movement, namely the use of certain types of ingredients, approved equipment and the traditional method of making pizza. Pie’za Pizzeria’s own version of Napoletana pizza includes specific ingredients such as Italian ‘00’ flour, San Marzano tomatoes and fior di latte (mozzarella cheese made from cow’s milk), a custom-made wood-fired oven from Naples and a trained/certified pizzaiolo (pizza chef). The dough is handmade daily using purified mineral water, single variety yeast and sea salt with a 24-hour natural fermentation process.
Photo courtesy of Pie’za Pizzeria
This background is all well and good but Pie’za Pizzeria really delivered on our visit. From the ease of booking through their website to the friendly service, it was a great experience from beginning to end. We sat at a lovely table by the window and took in the ambience with its colourful walls, interesting art, vibrant plates and even traditional good luck charms like the roguish figure Pulcinella and the corno (red horn) to ward off the evil eye. If you look closely at Pie’za Pizzeria’s logo, that little red horn serves as the apostrophe. Other playful details included a poster of Sophia Loren and the staff’s Straight Outta Napoli t-shirts.
There was a time when authentic Italian pizza was hard to come by in Cambridge. In the last few years, there have been some excellent cafes, delis, restaurants and even mobile pizzerias serving this popular Italian classic all over our fair city. So much so, that we are now spoilt for choice, as there are many different kinds of pizza with their origins throughout Italy. Each region has their own way of making pizza, with Naples and Rome among some of the best known cities.
Most people are only familiar with the round single serving pizzas, sometimes baked in a wood fired oven. Signorelli’s Deli, which opened recently on Burleigh Street by The Grafton Centre, serve their pizza differently. They specialise in pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice), where the dough is spread out in a rectangular tray, topped with a choice of ingredients, baked in an electric oven and cut into slices. It’s not meant to be served hot. The rectangular slices are easy to eat on the go but Signorelli’s Deli boasts a welcoming spacious interior with some of the friendliest staff I have ever encountered. The pride and passion for what they create is apparent and they are very helpful in answering any questions about their products. There is definitely a great team there!
Signorelli Deli’s pizza al taglio has a thick (but not dense) crumb that’s puffy and similar to focaccia. The dough, obviously made from high quality ingredients, is full of air bubbles, resulting in an airy, chewy foundation robust enough to support a variety of toppings.
Pizza lovers rejoice! Fired Up, run by Nancy and Rory Laffan, make some of the tastiest pizzas and have taken over the kitchen at No.77 for the whole month of January 2016. No.77, located in the village of Caxton just 13 miles from Cambridge, usually serve Thai food but their chefs are taking a break in Thailand this month. This is where Fired Up come in! With their handcrafted mobile pizza oven in tow, they are delighting customers with their authentic wood fired pizzas prepared with homemade dough and topped with fresh ingredients.
The official launch of Fired Up at No.77 was held on Saturday, 9 January 2016. Nibbles and fizz were on hand for the celebration but Paulo and I booked a table for dinner. We were delighted to run into Kelly Molson of Grub Club Cambridge / Rubber Cheese and her fiancé Lee Allison so we shared a table. Good company and good food… what else could you ask for?
On 3 October 2015 foodPark’s fourth instalment of its popular NIGHT MARKET took place, once again, at Gravel Hill Farm at the North West Cambridge Development. I attended every one of them so far (February, May, July and October) and I can safely say I have experienced fantastic street food and drink in all seasons. I enjoyed them all and raved about the winter and spring NIGHT MARKETS here and here.
With foodPark founder Heidi White at the helm, this NIGHT MARKET was the biggest and best yet. The main difference was the addition of more bars. Apart from the foodPark BAR, which sold wine, fizz, soft drinks and water, there was a bar run by Jolly Good Beer dedicated solely to craft beer and a Pinkster gin den that was a bit of a hidden gem around the back.
Food and drink were the main attraction and Heidi and her team of volunteers kept the evening flowing smoothly. The event was well organised with rubbish being gathered in a timely manner. I noticed there was first aid cover provided by a private company.
On our trip to Bath, we were looking for a casual, lively place to enjoy some good food and drink, particularly cider as this is a Somerset specialty. The Stable, with its menu of pizza, pies and cider, was exactly what we were looking for.
The Stable has multiple locations (Bath, Bridport, Bristol, Falmouth, Fistral Beach, Plymouth, Poole, Weymouth, Winchester and soon Southampton). Each location has a slightly different menu, in accordance with the local ingredients and cider available.
The Stable in Bath is housed in a beautiful building and seating consists of benches, stools and long tables. This lends a wonderful convivial atmosphere and whilst this place is indeed a proper restaurant, it feels more like a bar with the freedom to order more food and drink whenever you please.
Those of you familiar with the best of the Cambridge street food scene already know Steak & Honour and Jack’s Gelato. They formed a dining collective and named it Over The Tracks, a nod to the location of their Cambridge HQ tucked away in a winding industrial estate, just past the train tracks.
Leo Riethoff and David Underwood of Steak & Honour and Jack van Praag of Jack’s Gelato don’t just flip burgers and scoop ice cream. They are proper chefs who expertly create their menus and have worked in some of the best professional kitchens. Over The Tracks is their opportunity to expand their culinary offerings, and in Jack’s case, show what he can do away from the churn.
“Over The Tracks is quality, seasonal and local cooking in an informal and communal setting. With OTT, the guys are taking their product off the street and placing it in another context.” (Eat Cambridge Official Website)
This well organised fringe event for Eat Cambridge, held on 20 May 2015, was beautifully set up inside and outside the industrial unit. The bar was housed inside, along with several large communal tables and charming mismatched chairs. The minimalist décor and ambience worked well in the overall context. The chilled out sounds of instrumental hip hop music added to the urban atmosphere.
foodPark NIGHT MARKET, a pop-up night market featuring the best of Cambridge street food, was held on 14 February, 2015 at Burwash Manor. It was part of Burwash Food Hall‘s Love Food festival. With so much love in the air, it was only fitting to have foodPark’s very first NIGHT MARKET on Valentine’s night.
The evening’s focus was LOVE… mainly love for street food, all freshly prepared by the carefully-selected traders that form part of the foodPark collective, founded by Heidi White who has been instrumental in promoting street food in Cambridge.
“Street food markets are for wandering around, taking in the sights and smells, for tasting, sharing, anticipating food cooked “just-so”, and experiencing something different from your usual idea of eating out. But please remember the NIGHT MARKET *is* different from a usual restaurant, pop-up dining experience, or supper club. It is a market, it is not somewhere where reservations are taken, and here at foodPark the food and drink is THE main attraction.” (Official Website)
Who says tomatoes are a vital to a good pizza? Red pepper paste, particularly the one from Olive Branch, is the new tomato sauce. There are no tomatoes on this pizza, just lots of delicious red peppers (red pepper paste, roasted red peppers from a jar and fresh red peppers) as well as mushrooms, green and black olives, onions and mozzarella. Many of these ingredients are leftovers from the Cheese and Mushroom Frittata recipe so it’s an ideal dish to make in the same week.
I make fresh pizza dough in my breadmaker (it only takes 45 minutes) but ready-made dough or store-bought (pizza crust mix) could do. My trick is to leave the dough to rise in the breadmaker for about an hour then not knead, flour or roll the dough after I remove it. This results in a fluffy and thick crust ideal for a deep dish pizza. Remember to coat your hands with some olive oil so the dough doesn’t stick when you handle it.