By Ciara Long, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Tucked away on the leafy corner of residential Copacabana street Rua Cinco de Julho, La Pizzateca opened in mid-February, and with a lively yet intimate atmosphere, the new restaurant focuses on creating purist, high-quality Neapolitan pizzas, as well as offering homemade breads.
Launched by long-term Australian expatriate in Rio Duncan Hay, and his wife Priscila, the couple founded the pizzeria in partnership with their Carioca friends Emile Maksoud and Silvia Moutinho.
“When we would get together with Silvia and Emile it was always to eat pizza,” says Duncan. “Rua Cinco de Julho is my favorite in Copacabana, with a tunnel of beautiful trees. It’s a great vibe to sit there and watch the world go by.”
With seating largely outdoors, under the street’s towering trees, La Pizzateca quietly plays blues and jazz music while customers soak in the area’s charm and watch pizzas bake in the custom-made pizza oven.
The setting also proves convenient, located in the heart of Copacabana and is located ten minutes’ drive from Urca, Botafogo, Lagoa and Ipanema.
“Ketchup and mustard aren’t pizza toppings, and neither is Catupiry,” jokes Hay. “No chicken, either.” The restaurant’s menu is a mix of classic pizza orders and favorites, all wood-fired in the restaurant’s pizza oven, as well as a signature pizza with ricotta cheese, prosciutto and fig jam toppings.
For Hay, the ingredients and the method make all the difference. “I can never wait for it to cool down before I dig in – it tastes too good. I burn my mouth twice a week on it,” he grins, only half-joking.
“For real Neapolitan pizzas, you just use water, salt and a really fine flour for the dough for a thin base and a decent crust,” Hay says, gesturing to the dough rising on a nearby work surface. “We use Italian tinned tomatoes that are produced especially for pizzas for our sauce, as well as real mozzarella.”
Top quality ingredients and proper pizza dough were of the highest importance for La Pizzateca, as was learning the true Neapolitan methods with the help of a São Paulo chef, who also installed the oven. Also on offer are homemade breads and sandwiches, as well as original and vegetarian pasta bolognese and a couple of sweet pizza options for customers with a sweet tooth.
La Pizzateca also serves imported beers and red wine to accompany the food and is already proving popular with locals, selling fifty pizzas in little over three hours on weeknights. With a delivery service set to start next week, it looks as though the restaurant’s popularity is due to grow.
La Pizzateca is located towards the end of Rua Cinco de Julho, between Siquiera Campus and Cantagalo metro stations and is open 6PM until midnight every evening except Mondays.