In case your first expertise of pizza was the deep-dish model served by the Chicago Pizza Pie Manufacturing facility on St Stephen’s Inexperienced, or at a department of Pizzaland (the place it got here with sides of baked potato and coleslaw) or from the DIY counter at Superquinn, the place mandarin orange segments have been simply one of many toppings on provide, the information that Cirillo’s on Dublin’s Baggot Road has been named the 16th Finest European Pizzeria might come as a shock. (The Dough Bros in Galway got here in at 21.)
reland on the forefront of pizza-making in Europe? Absolutely not.
Pizza is in every single place as of late. You will discover it in chains and homegrown independents, in addition to in pubs up and down the nation, the place €9 is the magic quantity. It is good meals for a pandemic and has by no means been extra well-liked – or ubiquitous. However till a number of years in the past, with some honourable exceptions – I am pondering Gotham on South Anne Road and Impartial Pizza in Drumcondra particularly – the usual of Irish pizza was nothing to get too enthusiastic about.
So what has occurred to Irish pizza to carry it from the stodgy indulgence that it was again within the 80s – when the heft of the dough and the weird mixture of toppings have been virtually assured to lead to heartburn, if not a full-blown coma – to a gourmand meals worthy of worldwide recognition?
A thread on Donal Fallon’s Come Right here To Me weblog is a mine of knowledge on the subject of exploring the historical past of pizza right here.
In keeping with contributor Fabio Gentile, the primary pizza offered in Eire – however solely to personal events – was made by Mario Gentile at Bernardo’s on Lincoln Place, which opened in 1954. Mario and his brother Bernardino had labored on the Italian embassy in Lucan and went on to open The Espresso Inn on South Anne Road, a scholar hangout the place many had their first style of pizza, topped with mozzarella, anchovies and peppers.
In 1967, Dr Dionisio Tullio and his spouse Irene, the dad and mom of the Irish Impartial’s much-loved restaurant critic, Paolo Tullio, who died in 2015, opened The Honey Bee on Wicklow Road in 1967, serving pizzas made by Joe Forte from Naples.
Now in his 30s, James Cirillo, proprietor of Cirillo’s, grew up in an Italian restaurant household in Dublin – his uncle Emilio Cirillo owned Nico’s on Dame Road, the place his father, Armando, was the chef.
“Pizza in Eire has positively had a chequered previous,” he says. “I bear in mind going to Pizza Cease on Chatham Lane on Sundays when Nico’s was closed. It was run by Italians and the pizzas have been good, however again then, they have been made with a more durable, Roman-style dough. I feel the primary place in Dublin to start out doing extra Neapolitan fashion pizzas was Paulie’s on Grand Canal Road, which opened in 2010.
“Neapolitan pizza has at all times been softer than Roman-style, however 5 – 6 years in the past, all of the pizzaiolos in Naples began attempting to outdo one another by taking part in round with hydration ranges to make a extremely gentle dough. The upper the water content material of the dough, the lighter and softer it’s, but in addition the tougher it’s to work with, so it is a take a look at of talent.”
Previous to opening Cirillo’s, James made quite a few analysis journeys forwards and backwards to Naples, the place the gentle dough of the most effective pizzas is stretched by hand so it puffs up within the sizzling oven and varieties giant bubbles across the edges, which tackle a crackling black char, referred to as leoparding.
“I wished to serve fine quality pizzas,” he says, “so I employed pizzaiolo Daniele Accardo from Ancona and we constructed a conventional Neapolitan pizza oven from brick. We prepare dinner with a mixture of kiln-dried oak and ash – the oak is heavier and burns slower, so it goes on the underside, and the ash is for warmth and flame.
“The Neapolitan fashion of pizza is sort of sparse on the subject of toppings, however ours are somewhat extra beneficiant and higher suited to the Irish palate. We serve the normal pizzas you’d discover in Naples – margherita, marinara, diavola – which is the preferred – and salsiccia and friarielli, a white pizza with Italian sausage and a sort of broccoli. At first, we could not promote the white pizzas – folks could be asking the place the tomato sauce was, however now a lot of our regulars search for them and we regularly do them as specials.”
Though some pizza eating places right here use Irish mozzarella, James brings his in from Italy and makes use of Irish toppings, together with Younger Buck, Cashel Blue, Hegarty’s Cheddar and Gubbeen Chorizo.
Cirillo’s has at all times equipped pizzas to prospects of Toner’s throughout the lane and has continued to take action in the course of the restrictions. Throughout lockdown, its supply and takeaway enterprise boomed and is now making up for the discount of the variety of seats inside. On Tuesday, the restaurant made 250 pizzas.
“It appears as if each week I hear a couple of new pizza restaurant opening,” says James. “I suppose it is seen as low-cost and simple, but it surely nonetheless must be accomplished proper. It is a whole lot of work to do it correctly, monitoring the oven and the dough, and the standard can diminish as the amount goes up.”
Some Irish pizzerias use sourdough, however James prefers a conventional yeast dough which proves for 30 hours creating complexity and nuance.
“Sourdough may be very laborious to work with,” he says. “You would not actually discover eating places in Naples utilizing sourdough because it’s too temperamental. One night time throughout lockdown, we left the air con on in a single day and the dough was ruined – temperature is vital and if the climate may be very humid, sourdough can go bananas.”
The judges of the Finest Pizzerias checklist, who visited anonymously, paid fulsome tribute to Cirillo’s.
“The environment is extra like that of a pub than a pizzeria,” they mentioned, “however there isn’t a doubt concerning the product. The pizza is remarkably like the normal Neapolitan pizza, nicely risen and, extra importantly, nicely baked. There’s an obsessive analysis into Italian merchandise, from the tomatoes to the additional virgin olive oil. An actual shock was discovering some glorious friarielli! The service may be very attentive, the Italian spirit is all within the meals and never flaunted in a folkloristic manner. The most effective in Dublin.”
Whereas the standard of the pizza on provide at Cirillo’s is up there with the best in Europe, and a brand new technology of pizza-makers is producing ever-lighter, ever-more photogenic pizzas utilizing fine quality substances, there’s nonetheless loads of nostalgia for the pioneers of pizza in Eire. Pizzerias corresponding to The Unhealthy Ass Cafe in Temple Bar, Pizza & Cream in Bray, Chew & Chat in Ranelagh and Gino’s in Cork have been cherished as a lot for his or her unique environment as for the pizzas themselves.
It isn’t doable to create a pizza pretty much as good as Cirillo’s at dwelling with no wood-fired oven of your individual, however that does not imply it’s important to resort to a desultory freezer cupboard choice both. Irish firm Pizza da Piero has been producing nice pizza bases for 13 years and in case you make a easy sauce with pureed San Marzano tomatoes, seasoned nicely, and prime it with creamy buffalo mozzarella quite than a budget rubbery stuff, you will be off to a great begin.
Pizza is a clean canvas for excellent substances and there isn’t any signal that we are going to be falling out of affection with it any time quickly.