This week’s Dining Out review is from Stefani’s Pizzeria in Cedar Square, Blackpool town centre
I love a good origin story. Whether it’s Spider-man or my favourite bottle of plonk, I love finding out how something got started.
At Stefani’s Pizzeria, tucked away in a tiny restaurant in Cedar Square in Blackpool town centre, Nico is continuing his grandfather’s legacy by cooking up slices of heaven.
And the tale of the late Pepe – real name Peter Stefani – is told on the back of the relatively new eatery’s menu, while pictures adorn the walls.
Pepe once had his own pizza takeaway on the seafront, which he ran with his sons. And, after growing up helping out in the family business, Nico knew one day he wanted his own place, or so the story goes. “After thinking long and hard, he decided to travel to Napoli, the homeland of pizza,” it continues.
“He was on a mission to find out what it takes to create the most beautiful, fresh, and delicious pizzas. After coming home, he spent a great deal of time learning how to create the perfect dough and then created his own special recipe sauce. With all his main ingredients imported from Napoli, you will not get a pizza like it.”
With a write up like that, I was keen to try Stefani’s to see if its bite lived up to its bark. And, boy, it really does.
When we first arrived to eat, at around 4pm on Saturday, our first impressions were how intimate the place is. It’s a new restaurant, launched out of love and passion, and it will make for romantic meals or a sit down with one or two friends – I would not have liked to take the nippers or held a discrete business meeting, however.
We were not sure at first whether we would be seated or just expected to find a place to sit ourselves. We did the latter. As we did so, we overheard a fellow diner compliment Nico on just how excellent the food was. A good start.
Our order was promptly taken by Nico’s wife, Becky, who was pleasant and happy to suggest recommendations from the reassuringly small menu, and happy to, ahem, help with pronunciations. The service throughout was exemplary.
For starter, I had the rosemary focaccia (£3.75), which was baked in the restaurant’s focal point – a wood-fired oven – and seasoned with olive oil, sea salt, and fresh rosemary. It was delectable, fresh, and perfectly seasoned.
The missus had a cheese and garlic bread (£4.90), which is Stefani’s original crust smothered in garlic oil and topped with mozzarella. It was well cooked, delicious, and sizeable – it could easily have been served as a main. In fact, she had to leave some for fear she wouldn’t have room for her main!
As recommended, I had ‘The Don’ pizza (£8.90), which is the restaurant’s secret recipe tomato sauce and mozzarella with pepperoni, homemade sausage meat, red onion, basil, and a sprinkle of Italian hard cheese. It is probably the best pizza I have ever tasted. Pepe is no longer with us, but I can tell you now he’d be proud and maybe even a little jealous at how good his grandson can cook.
The other half had the originale calzone (£10.90), made with tomato sauce, mozzarella, salami and prosiutto ham finished with basil and Parmesan. There was no fault to be found again, and I am quickly running out of superlatives. Each bite was evidence of Nico’s ardour – and ability – to continue his family’s reputation as the pizza dons.
To drink, I had house red wine (£3.50 per glass or £12 per bottle), and the missus had Prosecco (£4.50 per glass or £15 for a large bottle).
The only let-down was dessert. I had a hazelnut tartufo (£3), and she had vanilla ice cream (£2) topped with strawberry sauce. They were taken from a nearby fridge and pretty much plonked on the table. To say the least, the presentation could have been better. I enjoyed the tartufo – think a massive Ferrero Rocher – but she considered the ice cream to be a little bland.
A nice Italian playlist rather than the radio would have been more suitable music too. But overall, I have to say Stefani’s lived up to the hype and at a very reasonable price of £49.45 all in.
We left full, satisfied, and with the confidence we had just sampled food from one of the finest restaurants in Blackpool. Try it, quick.