In the north of Paris, Bobby may soon establish itself as your new favorite neighborhood Italian restaurant. On the menu: fresh pasta, Italian recipes, quality antipasti and Neapolitan pizzas. To execute the latter to perfection, Geoffroy and Jacques, the founders of the address, decided to bring in a pizza oven directly from Naples. If the intention is honourable, the logistics were not as lenient as expected. For Konbinithey tell this epic like no other.
How did the idea for the restaurant come about?
James | We both wanted to open a business and our projects came together because they were complementary. Jacques wanted to make a pizzeria because it’s his passion, Geoffroy wanted to reproduce a pasta restaurant he discovered in London. We talked about it at 2 a.m. at a party in September 2020, and it became more concrete a few months later. Basically, we were going to do it each on our own, so we thought it would be better to do it together.
Why did you want, at all costs, to bring a pizza oven from Italy?
Absolutely mandatory to make the pizza we want to offer and to bring to our restaurant the artisanal side of the pizza that we love and that Jacques learned to make in Naples – and by working with Italians in Paris. The Italians, and especially those of Campania, the region of Naples, are the only ones who have the know-how and the materials to create ovens that allow you to touch the art of Neapolitan pizza.
What’s so special about this pizza oven?
It was manufactured by the family business of a recognized craftsman for many years. So we have a machine loaded with unique know-how thanks to its history, but which has also evolved over time to create modern products – for example, ours can work with wood but also with gas – but authentic and respecting a tradition.
What is the added value of such an oven?
The first and most important is from a “gastronomic” point of view. It allows us to make exactly the pizza we want to make. It heats up to over 400 degrees, which is essential to cook the pizza between 60 and 90 seconds. Any other oven would give a very, very different result. From a commercial point of view, this allows us to produce a more qualitative and authentic product than neighboring restaurants that use electric ovens, for example.
It is also an object that catches the eye…
From a “marketing” point of view, it is indeed a machine part of the restaurant, which catches the eye of the customer. It has also been well highlighted in the open kitchen, and it is a guarantee of authenticity, too. Parisians are now used to seeing this kind of oven in the “new generation” Italian restaurants that have appeared since Big Mamma seven years ago.
Where does it come from and what is its history?
It comes from Stefano Ferrara which is a family artisan business that has been making ovens for three generations near Naples, in Pozzuoli. They make ovens of all sizes and have several models that buyers can pimp to their liking, within the means of the craftsmen – it is very often a ceramic coating. For ours, it took them a month of work.
What is the constraint of bringing an oven to Paris?
There are two, three things that can be a little complicated. First, the exchanges with the supplier when we go live, since it’s in Italian or English, but with technical language. Between our first exchange with the sales department and the final order, there were nearly nine months. Luckily we speak Italian.
Beyond the order, sending the oven is also an issue.
The oven weighs two tons, and again, our model is one of the “little ones”. So that makes everything very complicated: you have to check with an expert that the concentration of the weight in one place will not damage the building in which you are installing it, you have to pour a weight distribution slab upstream… Then the company sends you the oven as soon as you ask them, but they only bring it to your address. Then you have to find a company to get it off the truck and slide it into your kitchen. And then, you have to bring in other companies to connect it to the extraction with a sheath, connect it to the gas if you wish… It’s a big organization and, all put together, it’s quite expensive.
Is it more complicated to go “live” than through a kitchen designer?
It’s harder because you’re on your own. Even if we, for example, the kitchen designer gave us a hand at certain stages of the process. On the other hand, if you go to see a kitchen designer and ask him to provide you with an oven like this, he will offer you the ovens he knows. So you have no choice and above all you pay its margin. While buying direct, you can save some money.
On the day of the repatriation of the oven, everything went as planned?
I almost pulled my hair out because I managed everything so that the installation took place in the same day. But one of the workers, the one who was to connect him to the extraction, let us down at the last moment and resurfaced two days later. However, as the oven must be heated gradually over a week, to bring it to the appropriate temperature for use, precious days have been lost. We also mismanaged the ignition of our oven – it’s a bit technical – and suddenly, a small part of the interior was damaged by heating too quickly.
What are you going to serve in the restaurant?
Contemporary Neapolitan pizzas and fresh pastas. Everything is homemade every day by hand. The recipes are Italian but we include local ingredients whenever possible.
29 rue Lambert (18th)