01 | Nov | 16

Hugh Thomas

Pizza with Pizazz

It’s time we let you in on a little something. You know that old chancer Mick, who sets up his pizza van in the pub car park down the road claiming to serve authentic Neapolitan-grade discs of joy? We’re sorry to break it to you, but he buys his dough frozen from the wholesaler. And that buffalo mozzarella? Aldi’s dairy aisle.

Pizza is getting a bit overcrowded in the street food scene (thanks, Mick) and the new breeds are struggling to get foots in doors. They get the fullest sympathy from Streatza’s Ian, a guy who’s spent four years perfecting slow rise dough and sourcing the best local produce. It’s what got him into the British Street Food Awards in 2014. And he was one of our first choices for Trinity Kitchen. We even took him on a hard hat visit.

‘But new traders seem to be starting every week,’ he says. ‘I do worry that new startups might struggle to find good pitches. But take-away pizza in Manchester is huge and the pizza generally isn’t great, apart from a few places often started by street food people.’

There’s Pizza Pilgrims, who have done brilliantly taking pizza to the high street. Well Kneaded, who have gone from strength to strength after winning Best Sandwich at the British Street Food Awards in 2012. Then there’s the amazing Born and Raised. And Pizza Loco — with their beloved steam train oven. And our own Baked In Brick — overall winner of the British Street Food Awards 2016. All rare talents.

‘We still make our own slow rise dough’ says Ian at Streatza. ‘The best street food around the world is from places that have been doing the same one dish forever.’ When Ian started out in 2012, he got the proper education – in Italy, by Italians, and in front of a wood-fired oven. He hasn’t changed anything since.

The passion that started in Italy is holed up in Manchester over Christmas – Streatza has a well-earned place at The Winter Gathering (curated by yours truly) in London Road’s old Fire Station until January 8. ‘Discovering that a strange forgotten place in your city has been turned into an amazing temporary food and drink destination is a great thing,’ says Ian. ‘We can’t wait.’