It’s National Pizza Day today (February 9) – the perfect time to crown Edinburgh’s unofficial king of pizza, Michele Civiera.
Not only does he own The High Dive, Civerinos (both temporarily closed) and Civerinos Slice on Forrest Road, he’s in the process of opening two other ”slice bars”, both of which will offer takeaway/delivery.
Due to open on Thursday, February 11, one of these will be Corstorphine’s Westslice, in an old Pizza Hut venue, now with neon lights framing the doorway and room to seat 20.
The Portobello branch will be ready to serve in mid March, also with space indoors for 20 and another 100 deck chairs outside. There’s no name for this venue yet, as they’re running a competition to decide. The current shortlist includes Promslice, The Slice Aquatic and PortySlice.
Whatever name they settle on, Civiera’s empire is expanding, in the midst of lockdown.
“It's surreal,” says the 44-year-old. “But if that’s what we have to do to survive this situation, so be it, as my teams from the closed sites will have new places to work. I’ve been dreaming about opening a Slice spot on Portobello Prom since I moved to Porty seven years ago. I am not going to let a global pandemic ruin that dream”.
Civiera has spent the last year adapting his business. There have been DIY dough kits and a Love Thy Neigbourhood collaboration, which has involved teaming up with Edinburgh’s Chop House. They’ve also fed NHS workers for free and supported hospitality charity, The Scotch Broth.
“It’s been tough for the whole hospitality community,” says Civiera. “Two of our restaurants are closed. However, we are blessed with one that we have turned into a pizza delivery and collection beacon of hope in the city”.
Pizza is one of the foodstuffs that has helped us survive lockdown. Thus, Civerinos Slice has had no shortage of enthusiastic customers.
“They have been absolute legends”, says Civiera. “It’s been astounding and humbling. When we announced last year that we were dropping pizza kits in the Lothians and Fife, customers who normally would commute, work and play in Edinburgh overwhelmed us and crashed our website a dozen times. I am welling up now thinking about it”.
Soon there won’t be many postcodes in the capital where you won’t be able to get a Civerinos delivered.
Their new venues will be serving a similar menu to the originals, so expect toppings like Big Trouble in Little China, with sugo, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, glazed pork, mozzarella, Szechuan peppers, spring onion and red chilli, or Return of the Mac, topped by macaroni cheese, among other things.
Ham and pineapple is not a controversial pairing for them, and has regularly appeared on their menu. As Civiera says, “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad”.
It’s just a shame that a recent survey by Foodhub revealed that our favourite pizza in Britain is the Margherita. Are the majority boring?
“No, they are the aficionados”, Civiera, says. “What better way to judge your local pizza spot than ordering the original, the staple, the version on which all others are based?”
Fair enough, all hail the pizza king.