Last year, James and Thom Elliot quit their desk jobs, flew to the south of Italy and bought a classic dark-green Piaggio Ape. It may have only three wheels and a top speed of 32mph, but the van jump-started the brothers’ new career as the Pizza Pilgrims. They drove the tiny Piaggio back to the UK, where an engineer friend fitted it with a 650kg stone pizza oven, and at the end of March the Elliots parked up at the weekday lunchtime market on Soho’s Berwick Street. Within weeks their thin-base pizzas, served hot out of the back of the van, were receiving rave reviews.
The 32mph trundle through Italy had been productive. En route, the brothers stopped off in Naples, seeking tips from some of the world’s best pizza chefs. The pilgrimage turned them into advocates of the Neapolitan pizza-making philosophy and they now favour the humble tomato-and-cheese margherita over fancier concoctions with multiple toppings.
Neapolitans would balk at cooking pizza in anything less than a purpose-built stone oven, but the Elliots have devised a technique that works at home. “Conventional ovens aren’t designed with pizzas in mind,” James tells me, “but there are a few tricks you can use to give yourself a fighting chance.”
Half the battle is getting the right ingredients: The brothers advise using “00” flour — or else strong, finely milled white-bread flour with a high gluten content — and fresh yeast (ask your baker or at the supermarket).
— Guardian News and Media Limited