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GASTRONOMIA NAPOLETANA

DA MARIO

Mario was born in 1942 in the very heart of the historical centre of Naples ...and with his arrival the second world war was declared.

 

His passion for Pizza and Neapolitan food erupted not only from the pervasive-cuisine orientated, Neapolitan atmosphere of his youth, but mainly by the food shortage of the war time, when even pea pods were treasured and transformed into an appetising soup.

 

Besides cookery writing, Mario travels in pursuit of new culinary ideas and he is often asked to be a judge in cookery competitions.

 

The author learnt to cook at an early age at home taking over the catering responsibilities from his mother, who worked most hours of the day as a seamstress.

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In his early teens years he was employed, without remuneration in a local Pizzeria, where he happily digested the first notions of Pizza making and at the same time he savoured the original flavours of Neapolitan Pizzas. He also worked as a commis-chef in a restaurant in the Naples Airport, under the direct supervision of chef Achille who, today runs a famous cookery school in Naples.

 

Lacking opportunities in Naples, the author visits England since 1958, during the summer months where he joins the Fridaybridge Student Camp fruit picking. Occasionally he works in "The Smedley's" and "The Metal Box", two local canneries.

 

He spends some time in a nearby village called Wisbech, where he enjoys being a coffee-boy in a cafe’ for students and then as a washer up in the “Rose ‘nd Crown “ Hotel. After a few weeks he is asked to help in the kitchen.

 

Dissatisfied about the slow progress achieved, Mario moves to London where he studies English for three years and at the same time takes on a few catering jobs offered to him, on his spare time.

Towards 1963 he finds himself engaged as a kitchen-porter in the opening of  “IL Pirata”, a large Dinner ‘n' Dance restaurant belonging to the famous Alpino Group. Mr. Bosoni the owner of “IL Pirata” manages to obtain the so longed ‘work permit’ document for the author and this allows Mario to devote himself to cooking with passion and long hours. After a few months Mario is a second chef in a brigade of seven.

 

In June 1965 he joins Peter Boizot in setting up the first pizzeria in England in a tiny room in Wardour Street. The only two tables in this Pizza Parlour were constructed

by ourselves utilising the metal bases of two “Singer” sewing machine topped up each with a panel of cheap wood, covered with adhesive red vinyl cloth. A large piece of marble and some old water pipes, salvaged from a nearby demolition place, gave us a solid working table. Plastic cutlery and paper cups did not eliminate the problem of washing up as Peter Boizot insisted in reutilising to the maximum those pioneering accessories.

Peter Boizot’s dream was to create a chain of ‘Pizza Bars’ serving slices of pizzas on greaseproof paper, all over England. It took several months of solid insistence by Mario to persuade him to abandon his idea of serving only slices of Pizzas and start serving proper, round Neapolitan Pizzas.

26th April 1942 - 10th December 2007