The Pizza festival is back
After a year’s hyatus (I was busy with a 4 months old baby after all) I was back at Daniel Young‘s London Pizza Festival, held as usual in the former (former! shocking) car park of Borough Market on a yet again hot and sunny day in May.
This year Daniel asked me to help out with the festival guest of honour, none other than pizza star Gino Sorbillo, who flew in especially from Napoli for a few hours at the sold out event. I had never had a chance to meet Gino before, but I know that my very own sister (and pizza expert) knows him well, so I was looking forward to make his acquaintance.
Pizza is everything – Gino Sorbillo
He’s a really lovely chap and down to earth, and he was super friendly to everyone who wanted a chat or a selfie. He took his time with each single pizzeria, making a pizza, chatting to the pizzaioli, asking about their chosen ingredients and so forth. Gino was also interviewed by Daniel, and guess who was the interpreter?
Trying to ignore the large amount of people in front of us and trying to remember the nice nuances of Gino’s answers, I did my best in my first foray into real time translations! Exciting.
Gino explained what makes pizza napoletana, and underlined the importance of the ingredients such as the water and the flour (particularly Caputo, which he uses) and expressed his pleasant surprise at seeing how all these pizzaioli in London (and across the world) interpret and re-interpret our heritage, and said we, neapolitans, should be proud and happy that our ‘bible’, the pizza, is thus spread out and promoted everywhere.
“Pizza is everything” he concluded, when asked to summarise in one word what pizza means to him.
Of course, I was also looking forward to seeing a few friends (who usually help out at the festival like I do), listen to great vintage tunes by my lovely dj friend Anna and eating some proper pizza napoletana.
This year’s competing pizzerias were, in my view, an interesting bunch. From Michelin stars backed, not so Neapolitan, pizzerias (Hai Cenato and the Perfectionists Cafe) to those whose staff sound like me (from Napoli!), O’ver and Santa Maria. I don’t deny that I have a soft spot for Santa Maria, because, even if I haven’t had a chance to go go to their places for ages, I think their pizzas are wonderful and their stand was the most fun.
Pasquale and the team are really friendly, plus Pachi and myself are of similar age and both fan of Italian radio programme Planet Rock (now defunct but very much alive in our hearts). I loved their pizza too (Sant Orbino) with crumbs of taralli over melting provola, burata and delicious spicy salame.
The winner of the whole day, by only 4 votes apparently, was Wandercrust, a nice group of people who make pizza in a van, usually parked by a pub in Greenwich. I tried a slice of the pizza they made with Gino and was really good too.
Looking forward to next year!