Review: Stefani’s, Blackpool – the pizzeria everybody is talking about – Denise Evans

I have a rule when I try pizza in a new place for the first time. I order a margarita.

It’s not the result of some scientific study or mass marketing research, but it follows an elusive comment made by a waiter at a pizzeria in a small village called San Felice, located on the idyllic shores of Lake Garda in northern Italy in 2008.

A friend ordered a margherita, which is often the cheapest and most “basic” option on the menu and as a result we all laughed and kindly accused it of being cheap.

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Immediately we were interrupted by the waiter, who said “getting a margherita right is the hardest part of making a good pizza” and that stayed with me, because it’s true.

If a place can feature a Neapolitan-style margherita, make it memorable and not just throw it in as an afterthought like overbearing pizza, it’s a top-notch pizza place.

Stefani’s Pizzeria on the west side of Cedar Square in Blackpool is the latest place to inadvertently test my way.

I’m not here by chance, in fact a lot of LancsLive readers recommended a short dining trip when we ordered.

It has less than 10 tables and you feel like you’ve just walked off the street in Florence or Rome and just the thick, cheerful Lancastrian touches greet you that you’re in England not Tuscany – it’s fun, relaxed and boisterous in a good way. Think chefs talking and laughing, kitchen utensils dangling, and other guests clinging to their mugs in “Cheers!”

It has original Italian roots through owner Nico Stefani with family photos, newspaper clippings and paintings that adorn the walls like a love letter to his family’s homeland.

The publicist on the menu tells you that Niko spent years refining his recipes after becoming fascinated with pizza while watching his late grandfather Pepe run his business in the park.

Nikko imports his ingredients from Italy, including Caputa 00 flour that has been proven for at least 24 hours and San Marzano tomatoes grown in the volcanic soil of Mount Vesuvius, and he installed a wood-burning oven and spent time in Naples to perfect his sauce and dough. recipes.

This close attention to detail is evident with every bite of Nikko’s food on our visit.

We started with garlic butter spreads, dough sticks (£6.95) and a portion of mixed olives (£3.95).

Great Garlic: Stephanie's Dough Sticks
Great Garlic: Stephanie’s Dough Sticks

The sticks of dough were more like relay batons in size, but they were light and fluffy and just right for getting us ready for the main event.

The sticking point for me is when garlic butter is too hard and sorely lacking in the former but there was no danger of that happening here.

Loads of garlic were mixed into this delicious dip and I thought my partner would pick it up and drink from the plate when he ran out of sticks to collect the limited leftovers.

The olives were lumpy and were swimming in olive oil, strips of mushy pepper and more garlic. Very well, but we fully expected our cat who hates cloves to stay away from us for the next few days.

No prizes for guessing we ordered a Margherita (£7.90) with The Secret Pizza from the ‘House’ menu.

The perfect Margherita at Stephanie

Marge (San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, salt and extra virgin olive oil) easily makes me in my all-time top five list.

The dough was light, airy and not too salty, the sauce was rich and perfectly seasoned and the cheese blended with the tomatoes to create a thick creamy layer that wasn’t sticky and didn’t fall off all over the plate and down my arms, flipping the dough soggy.

‘The Secret’ is a white pizza (without tomato sauce) and mozzarella topped with Parmesan cheese, mushrooms, rosemary, sea salt and truffle oil (£9.90) while we also added homemade sausage and nougat.

Stefani’s special “secret pizza”, with added nduja and house meat

My words. You would expect half of this toppings combination to be a mess and make the pizza hard to slice and stay together.

We were wrong and it looked great too. The fresh, lean meat and spice fired up the original ingredients in the recipe and we felt we should show our chance-discovered version to Nikko. To be fair, our (wonderful) waitress agreed with our combo and told us the staff tend to experiment too, adding prosciutto and balsamic glaze.

Delicious dessert: homemade mini cannoli
Delicious dessert: homemade mini cannoli

Probably a good idea for patrons after the Carb Fest above, the homemade mini Cannoli (£1.50 each) was perfect for sharing and we had the hazelnut and pistachio flavours.

The ricotta and cream filling was rich, sweet, semi-folded and nicely baked inside a pastry tube, which was crumbly and well baked.

We also opted for the gingerbread cheesecake (£2.95) with the main portion a little heavy for a lighter biscuit base. But it tastes like Christmas and we’re still done with it.

Homemade gingerbread cheesecake at Stefani's in Blackpool
Homemade gingerbread cheesecake at Stefani’s in Blackpool

Our Italian friend Carmelo, who lives in Sicily, once told us that if the sugar stays on top of the cream in an espresso for a while before it disappears, it’s made from good quality coffee. And imagine what? That’s exactly what happened to us, Milo will be delighted when we tell him.

The terms ‘original’ and ‘authentic’ are thrown up very loosely when it comes to a particular cuisine, but having eaten Neapolitan pizza in Naples, I can honestly tell you that Stephanie’s dream of creating a ‘perfect pizza’ has come true.

Food reviews are published by Denise Evans every Sunday morning. The restaurant didn’t know we were coming and our review is anonymous.

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