Master & Margherita

Our pizzas, quite simply put, are delicious.

They were informed and inspired by a thousand famished hangovers through proprietor Joe Curtis’ wasted 20’s (and early 30’s!). One day in 2001, before the commonplace handheld nature of the internet, Joe awoke with the emptiness a 22 yr old hangover can allow to discover a flyer for a stone-baked sourdough pizza offering 18INCH pizzas at his door. 18inch is what stood out here, not the exotic-sounding sourdough.

Without checking the bank he ordered one straight away, and on arrival he was thrilled to discover a pizza base unlike anything he’d known up until then. Thin throughout until the bulbous and sometime blackened singed crust with something that quite frankly, up until then, his knee-jerk pizza cohort Dominos had never provided; Flavour. The crust had flavour. It didn’t require an “extra garlic and herb dip please boss”. It actually tasted amazing.

Bear in mind, Jamie Oliver was in his earliest phases of teaching the country (and young people in particular) how to cook. Sourdough wasn’t really a thing yet that side of the millennium. So, the crust was great but this young man’s greed was a little let down (to say the least) by the artisanal approach to toppings. Not the ingredients themselves, they were great – when you got to them. But they were few and very far between, like the first flicks of a culinary Pollock on this delicious 18” sourdough canvas. The mozzarella islands, when the mouthfuls made the crossing from one isle to another were truly stunning but were flattened mounds of joy surrounded by the sweet tomato lava that covered the majority of it. It was delicious, but sparse.

The cheapest local offerings would entice you in with a 2-4-1 at huge discounts, but nothing about these franchised tiny shop fronts bred joy, nourishment or anything approaching class let alone an actual nod to the history of this great food. Dominos with their globalised template gave a morbidly obese sense of salty security that you’d generally tell nobody about after eating. This sourdough thing really might actually be a thing.

Many years later, Joe made the bold step to step into the kitchen and trained under award-winning and Michelin-trained chefs. He worked up to head chef level and seven years later started a catering company, running three pub residencies while simultaneously executing large-scale events. Then the pandemic struck. Post pandemic, Joe and Victoria ran a high-end one-off glamping project in Hampshire where twice a week for the 9 month run, they cooked (for the first time in his career), pizza.

The menu had taken Joe an afternoon in a pub to write. Keep it simple. Five absolute winners and now that it was 2021, vegan cheese was everywhere so vegan pizza was a goer. The pizzas were inspired by the meeting of that early sourdough experience and the topping-heavy joy of the cheaper options. A sourdough base, with Joe’s basic yet all important sauce recipe, grated fior-de latte mozzarella for unctuous coverage and an approach to toppings that leans heavily on the accessible financial margins that pizza so famously creates. Be generous. Every mouthful needs a combination of flavours. Even the absolute master of all pizzas, the Margherita, needs more fresh basil than you’re used to seeing. This makes the difference.

Artisan cooking with junk food greed.

The Master & Margherita is pizza’s lovechild, produced and brought up in the UK. Using only English produce, we want to be known as an English pizzeria that brings together some of our favourite things to create an environment and menu that is equally welcoming to a hungry, noisy family and the young pretty things like Joe in the 00’s.

Back to the glamping project and the actual maiden voyage of the pizza menu. Joe & Victoria revelled in working the oven, working the dough, refining their technique and being overwhelmed by the amount of genuine “this is one of the best pizzas we’ve ever eaten!” plaudits that kept pouring in each week from the very happy campers. It stayed with them and the enjoyment of it hasn’t waned as just over a year on, they aim to launch the “Master & Margherita”. 

So, the upshot of this was that the Domino’s or 2-4-1 cheapo local offerings that sat on the electric conveyor belt of 240’ degree heat were heavily loaded, oozing with cheese but lacking in true flavour. Sourdough pizza before it became world-famous with Franca Manca etc was the other end. Our pizzas sit joyously, greedily, nourishingly and deliciously between them borne out of the excess of a young guy who never thought he’d become a chef. The right lady, post pandemic opportunities and entrepreneurial creativity they breed together and bang. The Master & Margherita was born!

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