With the longest January ever recorded firmly behind us, (OK… not entirely factually correct but boy did it feel like it!) we most certainly did a little dance at LBPR HQ when February arrived. Even more so, when it was drawn to our attention that February is also home to National Pizza Day.
In homage to this day of celebration for the iconic Italian dish, we caught up with Thom, the co-founder of London based Pizza Pilgrims to talk all things, you guessed it…PIZZA.
Firstly, huge congratulations on your first establishment outside of the big smoke, Oxford Pizzeria opened towards the end of last year. Are you out for UK / global pizza domination?
Thanks so much – feels strange being back in Oxford as both myself and my brother lived and went to school there for many years (and I even ended up at Uni there). It feels like a homecoming really! We are really excited to be there – but I think world domination is a long long way off by anyone’s measure!
Any big plans for National Pizza Day 2018? Or is every day a celebration of the tasty topped triangle?
We are planning to answer one of life’s big questions – does pineapple belong on pizza. We have teamed up with Temper to create a roasted pineapple and Nduja pizza – suitable named Hawaii-not – and are going to have voting boxes in all the pizzerias as to whether pineapple pizza is heaven or hell. An in/out referendum on pineapple if you will…
The Pizza playground (think Mario cart, pinball, bocce ball…) at your West India Quay Pizzeria looks like somewhere we might never ever want to leave! Where did the idea come from?
We just totally fell in love with the building – a grade I listed dock building on the waterfront. It is more of a destination than some of our other sites – so we thought it would be fun to create a real experience there and make the most of the incredible space. It is great fun – but still most important to us that the pizza is as good as it possible can be! Also – Mario Kart and pizza are meant to be together.
You run a poll on your website allowing people to vote for the next pizza you should add to your menu… who’s in charge of coming up with the recipes? That sounds like a fun job.
The new pizzas really are a collaboration between my brother James, our head chef team Tom & Davide, and all of the amazing pizza chefs throughout the company. I am just chief taster – which is really the best job to be honest…
You must have received some bizarre requests for pizza toppings over the last 5 years?
Yes indeed. I think doing George Clooney’s face in pizza toppings might be the benchmark…
We LOVE the Pizza pilgrimage story and videos (which you can view here). Do you have any other pilgrimages in the pipeline?
We try and get back to Naples, the real home of pizza, a couple of times a year at least. We always learn something new we can bring back for the pizzerias. We are pushing the boat out a little further now though. In 2016 we did a Deep Pan pizza tour of Chicago, and last year also made it to the World Pizza Expo in Las Vegas (perks of the job!).
When you’re not at Pizza Pilgrims HQ, where can we find you? (let’s rephrase, so it sounds slightly less creepy!) Any favourite London hotspots / places to unwind and relax?
Blacklock! I totally love that place. Fun, great food, great price – underground so you are not thinking about the weather. WIN WIN WIN!
The Pizza Pilgrims pizzas went down a storm at our recent launch party for the new Bailey Nelson store in Covent Garden...