HE 00 flour dust has barely settled on 2018 before ToM is called upon to rate another topped dough crust. Late November we visited expanding Tre Ciccio in Altrincham, whose chef Luigi Marino has just won a National Pizza Chef of the Year title with his signature Sud pizza and found it hugely impressive.
But was it better than the previous week’s pizza challenge? ‘Salvi’s Pizzeria – surely the best topped dough in town?’
There’s certainly been a big spend on imported tiled Italian wood-fired ovens (Salvi’s isn’t, but it’s still from the old country) to provide the required 500 degree heat blast.
The latest is the centrepiece of Ciaooo (Ciao00, geddit?), an unassuming looking cafe on traffic-swamped Swan Street (opposite the Mackie Mayor, boasting Honest Crust’s twin pizza ovens). It’s a far cry from rambling down narrow Spaccanapoli in the heart of old Napoli but Ciaooo feels the nearest to the basic pizzerie that define the Neapolitan style. Recent Manc pizza joints have been chic sleek (Rudy’s 2 on Peter Street and the NQ’s Noi Quattro, 100 yards from Ciaooo).
It’s 50pm. As we enter Coaooo, chihuahua in tow, because the cafe is dog-and family friendly, there is an uncanny echo of those basic Neapolitan bars that act as shrines to the city’s ultimate football hero, Diego Maradona. The open kitchen staff are tuned into a local radio Manchester City chat centring on the prospects of young Phil Foden, surely a legend in the making, too?
The pizzas that head chef Stefano Mordecchi (ex Double Zero, Chorlton) ladles from the red-tiled ovens are as Neapolitan as they come, bases like scorched craters but pliably floppy and light. Toppings are no overdone, which is as it should be, fior di latte mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes essential as always.
My companion’s Capricciosa is £9.90, my Napoli two quid cheaper; sacrilege – they have sneaked an ‘Hawaii’ with ham and pineapple onto the menu, but we’ll forgive them that and a pudding pizza topped with Nutella.
In Naples, basic Marinara and Margherita rule the roost for purists. We think our new wave of pizza places can give the Neapolitans a run for their money these days. Is Ciaooo the best in town? You make your mind up by road testing against rivals our Taste Top Ten Pizzas list.
Ciaooo, 62-64 Swan St, Manchester M4 5JU. 0161 832 8219.