What do trains & pizza have in common?

Most people complain about the UK’s rail service, but here at UTSf HQ, we couldn’t be happier with our trains! OK, maybe just one train in particular, which (by the way) has the BEST on-board catering you could ever wish for! Oh you guessed it, we are speaking of the wonderful Pizza Loco!

Back in 2016, we got an application from young Ollie and his locomotive (they were obviously the same application, pretty sure trains can’t write) and we really struggled to say no. I mean, how do you turn down something as unique as this at your festival? Yes, our head was turned, but it wasn’t just about the spectacle, it needed to deliver the mouth-watering pizza it was promising.

He turned up onsite with the infamous locomotive and the rest, they say, is history. Ollie most definitely blew us all away with every aspect of his Neapolitan wood-fired pizza offering and has been at our festival every year since, consistently delivering on his high standards time and time again.

So, when you have a train, which spits out spectacular pizzas every 60 to 90 seconds, what do you do next? Some would be happy with just attending festivals and events, but Ollie is also quite the entrepreneur and his next venture saw him open a restaurant in the quirky Sunbridge Wells tunnels in central Bradford.

And if that wasn’t enough, he decided to become a Dad throughout all of this!

Well… when we found out that one of our favourite days was coming up, #NationalPizzaDay on 9th February, we thought we would catch up with Ollie to find out what makes his pizzas soooooooo special.

In typical Yorkshire fashion, we cut straight to the point. What is the secret to making insanely good pizzas?…

Ollie started, “We use a winning combination of Italian and Yorkshire ingredients to bring you a taste of Napoli with homage to God’s own country. The dough is obviously incredibley important, it is the foundation to a great crust. The pizzas we serve are not deep pan, they’re Neapolitan style”.

Hmmmm, now, we luuuurrrrvve our pizza here at UTSf HQ and would say that we have eaten enough to be experts. So for anyone that is not as knowledgeable as us, we asked what the difference was – obviously we asked for a friend! ;0)

Ollie replied, “The base is thin, light and chewy. The crust is puffed up due to the air inside, not solid and bready like the deep pan style. We’ve created (and are always tweaking) our own dough recipe, which comprises of a secret blend of various flours, sea salt, yeast, and water. These 4 ingredients can be so complex, unpredictable, frustrating, and beautiful at the same time. We also have worked very hard on our gluten-free bases as well. It’s important to us that no one is excluded.”

If you have been lucky enough to try Ollie’s pizzas, you will know that the dough is great, but the sauce that is spread generously over the pizza is wow wah weeeee wah! (technical term for very good)

“As for the sauce, we haven’t found a tomato that comes close to our good friend the D.O.P. San Marzano (type of tomato). These tomatoes are grown in the soil of Mount Vesuvius. They’re so good that we add nowt more than sea salt when crushing them down to make our passata. Neapolitan pizza traditionally has more sauce than cheese, so it is vital that this sauce is perfect.”

And for the toppings?

“We’re firm believers in keeping it simple so you can taste each ingredient! To keep Yorkshire on’t top and shining through in our pizzas, we make good use of award-winning local cheeses from deep in the dales, right through to Leeds suburbia. If that’s not Yorkshire enough for you, we also have a few bespoke blends of cured meats made especially for us by a cheeky farm shop on the North Yorkshire border! We hope you’ll all agree that the end result is a winning combination of age-old Neapolitan methods, and supreme Yorkshire produce.”

Oh yes, we certainly do. And as we went to take hold of the last pizza slice on our plate (What?! You think we would meet anywhere else other that his restaurant!?) Ollie let us into a secret… Believe it or not, there is a special technique for eating a Neapolitan pizza without even slicing it. It is called “portafoglio”, meaning wallet.

To use this technique, you simply miss the pizza-slicing bit and fold the entire thing once, then a second time, hold it in a napkin, and bite into it. Genius!

So, lovely festival-goers, before you attend UTSf19 this year, put away your damn knife and forks and start practicing this technique, or you might look a fool onsite. Don’t forget that the Pizza Loco restaurant in Bradford will of course be on hand to give you tips if you are struggling! Nom nom nom… We will meet you there! (obviously we need to practice too!)

Ollie, we wish you all the best in your endeavors and cannot wait until we see that beautiful black locomotive enter our festival field once again.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, not just a train and not just a pizza stand. The combination of both, plus Ollie & his team’s amazing talent, really do produce some of the best pizzas we have ever eaten, and we wouldn’t let our audience have it any other way. Smiles all round.

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