I visit Jersey about four times a year – if I could go more often, I most definitely would – I love the place. I’d live there if I could. Not that easy if you don’t work in finance or law though. My brother was blessed with these skills. I was blessed with…others.
My brother’s been a Jersey resident for a long time so we’re lucky to have a permanent sunshine bolt hole for weekend getaways and holidays, and it’s just over an hour on a plane from Glasgow or Edinburgh. Easy peasy, hassle free holidaying.
Why do I love it? Jersey offers everything I want from a break (and life!) on a miniature scale. Huge stretches of sandy beaches; restaurants offering whatever type of food I fancy whether it’s brunch at El Tico, champagne and tapas at Bohemeia, crab tacos at Crab Shack or a dressed up dining experience at Samphire (Jersey is one of the most Michelin starred destinations in the UK); endless bars, cosy coffee shops, high end department stores and boutiques, fresh air and that lovely sound of tinkling masts and seagulls, the ultimate ‘by the seaside’ sound.
On my last visit, I was given the opportunity to review the newest culinary kid on the block, Pizza Projekt. I have a permanent pizza obsession. I am in constant pursuit of the perfect pizza, and in making the type of pizza I only get at the best pizza places. Then I realised that there are so many different types of pizza and then I went to New York and then my pizza obsessed mind blew into a million pieces…
Pizza Projekt is the creation of Nick Perchard-Rees (a fellow Scot) and Tim Evans, self confessed ‘pizza geeks’ who embarked upon an Italian adventure in search of the perfect pizza making methods and ingredients to bring back to Jersey in the form of a Neapolitan pizza place. From that, you might picture a little rustic, authentic Italian stone floored bottega with a mandolin-ey ‘O Sole Mio’ tinkling out of the speakers.
Pizza Projekt is a retro, industrial, black walled, 80s influenced (quite small) space, all blackboards, bright chalk, video games, Pac Man influenced logos and 80s electronica. I feel like I’ve been transported back in time to one of my favourite 80s teen movies (probably starring Molly Ringwald…), as the sounds of ‘Fade to Grey’ literally fade into Gary Numan ‘Cars’. I love the 80s and electronica as much as pizza. I’m in my own private 80s neon nirvana here.
The gaming chic theme is brought to life in the most subtle ways. The Apple Mac G5 Towers propping up the benches, the arcade screen carved into the surface of the tables, the logos, the changing colours of the neon sign, the graffiti murals – I’ve gone back in time in a DeLorean.
The experience of Pizza Projekt begins before you even look at the menu, which incidentally is written on a blackboard on the wall in multicoloured chalk, with more little Pac Man symbols.
The sustainability ethos of Pizza Projekt is also subtlety woven through the experience. Smaller napkins, sauces served in miniature jam jars, vegware straws and wooden platters for the food. All the boxes ticked so far…
The menu choices are simple. We’re talking eight choices. There’s something reassuring about that. I am the biggest fan of simple things done very, very well and I am clearly in the right place for that.
I choose the Margherita and my brother goes for the Nduja (spiced Calabrian sausage). The pizza takes three minutes to make. I can see it all happening right in front of me – in it goes to the 450c Roccobox oven, out it comes and on to my table. Hot, melty, sizzling Neapolitan deliciousness.
I have a couple of slices and Nick comes over to chat, so I have the opportunity to quiz him on his pizza mastery. It’s all in the ingredients and process he tells me.
“We use Caputo ’00’ flour, recogised as the world’s best pizza flour; this is what gives the pizza that lovely soft crust, a pizza that’s thin in the middle and has that airy chewiness that a good Neapolitan pizza should have. We hand stretch the dough and let it prove for between 24 – 48 hours. The sauce is made from San Marzano tomatoes, again an essential ingredient for a classic Neapolitan pizza and we use Buffalo Mozzarella to give the pizza that rich, creamy texture. The rest of the ingredients are either local or Italian.”
The pizza is chewy, soft and light in the middle with a perfectly sweet San Marzano sugo and mini-melty puddles of creamy mozzarella. Hot, perfect size and gone pretty quickly. Is it as good as Paesano in Glasgow? I’d put it on a parallel. The experience is entirely different which is great because restaurants need to have a USP that is about more than just food. Restaurants need great food AND that secret something else that every business needs to find and bring to life to be unique, stand alone and most importantly stand out!
Pizza Projekt has all of the right ingredients for a successful restaurant business in St Helier. A location that’s small and fast to deliver exactly what you’re looking for if ‘the best pizza in Jersey’ is on your menu and an ambition big enough to be able to upscale and extend the way they have, catering for weddings, parties, corporates and social occasions. Jersey weddings with Pizza Projekt catering is a ‘thing’. I like that.
If there are six slices of success for any business, they are undoubtedly 1) quality of the offering 2) USP 3) customer service 4) personality 5) scalability and 6) the ability to stay nimble and move with change.
And put ‘great PR’ as the topping! I have to say that. I’m a PR…
Pizza Projekt not only has all the right slices for the perfect pizza, it’s a brand and business story that is most certainly one to watch.
I wish them luck.
Pizza Projekt is in Market Street, St Helier
Monday to Wednesday 11 am – 3 pm
Thursday to Saturday 11 am – 9 pm