Dough-ing the right thing just got so local and tasty at Pizza Pilgrims

By Tom Tanner

Walk into Pizza Pilgrims’ new restaurant on the Fourth Floor at Selfridges and you can just smell something’s a bit different. Ok, so the basil plant guard of honour could have a fair bit to do with that sense that this isn’t your average pizzeria. Pick up a menu and you’ll start to realise that the sweet basil fragrances are just a taste of what’s to come.  

While Pizza Pilgrims has always looked to serve #FoodMadeGood, it had interpreted its own tag line “Born in Naples, Bred in London” as a commitment to use the best Italian produce to make its signature pizza products. 

Then an internal team discussion broke out. What does authentic really mean? Nistha Bhattarai, who does the company’s marketing, believes it means being true to the company’s principles. And, if you can source brilliant ingredients grown or reared on the doorstep, doesn’t that fit with the bred in London commitment? 

Selfridges is on a mission of its own as anyone walking down London’s Oxford Street can see. The east end of the building is emblazoned with the slogan Change the way we shop. Taking the site up at the top of the building gave Pizza Pilgrims the chance to change the way we eat too. 

Nistha says nothing was off- limits when it came to brainstorming ideas for what that actually meant. In reality, the basil entrance is or was just the start. It was at the end of 2020 that Pizza Pilgrims switched supply of all of the herb to Harvest London in Hackney and in the last year it’s saved them 350,000 food miles. 

So, if you can source basil in London, what else is on offer? Mozzarella, for starters (and mains). Rigorous taste tests were conducted, says Nistha, of this cheese as well as the charcuterie from Cobble Lane Cured Farm, also sited in the capital.  

Most fundamentally, perhaps, for a pizza restaurant, is the flour for its dough. All the bases at Selfridges are made using Wildfarmed (Food Made Good supplier) flour. With a glass-fronted, dedicated dough room in the restaurant with the Wild Farmed regenerative agriculture messaging there for customers to read, is a huge commitment. 

That communication is indicative of Pizza Pilgrims’ desire to share the story of where their food comes from. First, that meant hosting a number of supplier sessions for staff, helping enthuse the teams with the positive narrative attached to every ingredient. Now, customers can simply turn to the back of the menu to read about all the above-mentioned ingredients as well ass how the seats are upholstered with Pinatex, a plant-based alternative to leather made from pineapple waste.  

Now the genie is out of the bottle, Nistha and her colleagues are looking at how they’ll be able to both roll out some of these sourcing wins across the 15 site estate and start working on new ones. Harvest London’s chillies could be one quick win.  

We’ll be tracking progress in the coming months with a keen eye and sharing another slice of news, including perhaps some more data along the lines of the 350,000 food miles saved with the basil switch. 

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