Last time I was in Napoli, I was working in footwear. I was trying my best to get a collection of shoes out of a factory that was ridiculously late in hitting our deadline, and failed to see why we were losing our minds over it. I couldn’t speak much Italian at all, let alone Napolitani, which seemed like another language all together. It was exciting, stressful, and not a little nerve racking – as we drove to the factory, my rep would point to all the kids hiding at the top of the dishevelled apartment roofs and whisper ‘camorra’. I felt like I was in the wild west.
This introduction didn’t put me off, however. I still love the south, and the shabby exteriors of the once grand buildings. In fact, they are still grand, just covered in graffiti. We had nothing but good vibes, and we came back bewitched by the city.
We were there under the guise of ‘research’. Our new project is built from our memories of holidays, but I wanted a refresher. I also wanted to eat some pizza fritta. This elusive food is going on our new menu, and I wanted to try the original. I tried this whole, which arrived like a puffa fish, I had the calzone variant, and then the posh version. All unique and not all as delicious as the other.
These Southern folk do like their fritta.
.. and one of my darling favourites.
Appearances can be deceiving.. Fresh bountiful sticks of green, salty anchovies, olives.. And underneath smothered in a delicious goats curd. Very almost health food.
Valentines Day is fast approaching and we are having a lot of meetings about ‘food of love’.
I can’t help but have images of dogs eating pasta flash to mind, which then led me to find my favourite blog find of the year - www.dogseatingpasta.tumblr.com/ - now, it may not be the most romantic blog, but it certainly demonstrates the LOVE that people have for their puppies.
And then we discuss love heart shaped pizza, which cracks a giggle and a big whoop of enthusiasm from me, but perhaps a bit kitsch impractical, and dare I say it Pizza Hut?
We then decide that we are going to offer what we normally do – for that is why you want to eat at LARDO. But we are also going to add a few special treats too.
A wood roasted lobster to share perhaps?
What’s not to love?
The opening of LARDO, our new pizza and charcuterie restaurant is only a day away now, and so we decided to say thank you to all those lovely people who’ve helped us get it this far in the best way we could think of – with beer and pork! It’s been a month of scrambling to get everything finished but we’re over the moon with how the space has turned out, and this was a chance to share it with everyone else.
Anyone who’s opened a restaurant will tell you exactly the same, but it really was down to the wire – we were busy polishing and cleaning and prodding the disco oven into life right up until the point when people started showing up. It didn’t seem to matter. Our brilliant staff kept everyone fed and watered despite being surrounded by our hungry and thirsty friends. We served our guests slices of our fennel pollen salami, and our chefs Damian and Christian sliced fatty porchetta between chunks of bread. The late stayers were treated to slices of lardo pizza. All of you lucky people will get a chance to sample this over the next week.
It seems slightly unreal actually – two years on from the start of our road trip around the USA, when the spark of the idea happened, and we’re finally there. During that trip, when we met a bunch of people who were making closer connections between the farmer and the chefs, it seemed like a logical step to try and create a project which does the same in London. Living in this neighbourhood, we’re constantly meeting folks who are making or baking or growing something fresh and tasty, and we hope to get lots of this locally grown produce into the food that we’re serving.
We open Monday 9th July – come down and say hello…you can book online on our Facebook page, or just drop in…
Some pictures from the party (more on Flickr):