A Paignton eatery is reaping the rewards of having invested heavily in its facilities in its 13th year, with the decision to buy a wood-fired pizza oven having proved very lucky for them.
Shoreline at Paignton Beach, located on the Eastern Esplanade, recognised that Britain’s love of pizza knows no bounds and that being able to serve lunchtime pizza, alongside jacket potatoes and sandwiches, would give its menu an all-weather appeal.
Owners Phil and Helen Thomas started their planning for a wood-fired oven in the best possible way – by getting hands-on with wood oven operation with some true Italian maestri and learning to make pizza the truly authentic and traditional Italian way.
The couple headed out to Italy to study the art of wood-fired pizza cookery at the ZeroZero Ristorante Pizzeria in the stunning Italian city of Florence, following an introduction by Valoriani UK. At this point, they had three pizza ovens in mind for purchase, but quickly came to see that only one would fit the bill, once they started using the eatery’s own ovens and listening to the advice imparted.
Whilst in Tuscany, they enjoyed a visit to Reggello, where they toured the factory belonging to the manufacturer of ZeroZero’s wood-fired pizza ovens – Valoriani. They were treated to an insight into the artisanship that goes into every Valoriani pizza oven, the care with which they are built and crafted and the longevity that an oven can have as a result of this process.
They were also delighted to meet with Viola Valoriani, the daughter of the current owner Massimo and part of the younger generation of a family business that was established in 1890. Viola’s knowledge not just of pizza ovens, but also of Devon, made a great impression.
Viola is the Italian part of a two-family enterprise – Valoriani UK based in Preston, which is owned by both the Valoriani family and their great friends, the Manciocchis, here in England. Valoriani UK has very much become the supplier of pizza ovens to the stars and celebrity chefs, with Gwyneth Paltrow, Gary Barlow, the Beckhams, Jamie Oliver and many more being part of the Valoriani-owning family.
By the time the Thomases had returned from Italy, they had realised that a Valoriani oven – one of the three on their original list – was far superior to their other choices. They opted for a Valoriani ‘Igloo’ and started to make big preparations for its arrival.
This included rebuilding the entire bar area at Shoreline during a winter revamp and reconfiguring the door to the kitchen, changing the layout in such a way as to make the Valoriani oven the first thing diners see when they walk through the door. Dino Manciocchi was part of the installation team that fitted the oven in March 2019, keeping the hands-on Valoriani UK ethos alive throughout the process.
The result is that Shoreline now has the Rolls-Royce of pizza ovens as a real asset within the business. The oven is enabling the eatery to boost trade in traditionally quieter times – in the evenings when beach-goers have returned back to their accommodation and in winter months when trade is largely from local diners.
Shoreline is also now experimenting with brunch pizzas, serving these on Sundays, when it already has a buoyant breakfast trade, but one that could be extended further, by serving pizzas that appeal as elevenses.
Helen and Phil have personally trained most of the staff at Shoreline, so anyone can feel confident in using the pizza oven. Dough is made to a special Italian recipe every day and proved for at least 72 hours, as some of the tricks of the trade learned in Florence are advantageously incorporated into the new pizza offering. Current dining and dietary trends have also been acknowledged, with both gluten-free bases and vegan cheese substitutes available.
Phil Thomas says: “We know we have made the right decision with our pizza oven choice, having down our homework really well and seen for ourselves why Valoriani ovens have such great credentials. It is easy to view choices online or listen to a lot of noise that masks what is crucial when buying an oven – the reliability and longevity – and think all ovens are much of a muchness. Our time at ZeroZero and our tour of the Valoriani factory showed us that they are not.
“We can now confidently plan our wood-fired food strategy over many years, as we are 100 per cent certain that we have an oven that will cope with all that the restaurant trade can throw at it, no matter how busy a venue we are.”
Whilst the ever-popular Margherita and Hawaiian are pizza options on Shoreline’s new menu, along with the Pepperoni that research has shown to be Britain’s favourite meat topping, it is the Parma pizza that is ticking the box of most Shoreline diners, this being a delicious feast of prosciutto, parmesan and rocket.
Whatever the choice of diners, they can drink in the viewsat an eatery that describes itself as ‘the restaurant with panoramic sea views’, whilst tippling something like local Tarquins or Plymouth gin.
With the decision to invest in a top-class Valoriani oven that may well see them through another 13 years paying off, Shoreline’s owners are hatching other plans for next summer. Watch this space, because pizza deliveries to your beach towel could be coming soon, for that real ‘dough as you glow’ experience!
Press calls: Jane Hunt, Catapult PR, 01253 446925 – firstname.lastname@example.org