THERE is no such thing as Italian food. This point was confirmed to me recently when an Italian friend handed me vacuum-packed cured sausages as a gift.
I thanked her and innocently asked if she had brought them from Italy, to which she rather indignantly replied: ‘No! They are from Calabria’.
Italians are Roman, Venetian or Neapolitan before they are Italian and the popularity of pizza is actually a relatively recent phenomenon.
According to Delizia, John Dickie’s finely written book on the history of Italian food, pizza does indeed originate in Naples but only became truly popular in Italy in the 1960s and ’70s.
In the 19th and early 20th century pizza was viewed with suspicion as was just about anything that came out of cholera-ridden Naples.
Cholera is as vile a disease in its effects as ebola so any Neapolitan innovation was viewed with suspicion — as Dickie writes: it is a short journey from Gusto to Disgusto for an Italian.
Of course by now pizza has conquered the world and there are intriguing regional variations from the delicious dessert pizzas of Brazil (available in the Twelve in Galway among other places), to the rather less edifying English Breakfast pizza — and then there is the French Pizza Truck.
The French actually eat more pizza per head than the Italians.
In rural France you will often see a small truck parked near the war memorial or the supermarket selling fresh pizza made in a wood-burning oven.
It was inspiration from this tradition that led Giles Gaillot and his Irish wife Emma Gray to set up their own pizza truck which is to be found in the Watson and Johnson carpark in Greystones near the Dart station from Wednesday to Saturday.
In the past few weeks Gaillot and Gray have opened their first fixed premises not far from St Patricks Cathedral in what was once little Jerusalem but is now Little Arabia/North Africa.
This area is already home to a range of shops serving the local Islamic community, an area I frequent in search of home-made Paratha bread, Merguez sausages, Pistacchio ice-pops and sweet yellow Alfonso and Honey mangos.
As well as the halal groceries and kebab shops (Passion for Food is the best) there is the hugely trendy Bastible and the excellent (and very hip) Fumbally Café which ferments all their own drinks.
Some even claim that Chop Chop has the best Spice Bag in Dublin (chips and chicken bits with lots of chilli and Chinese Five Spice), I cannot claim enough experience to judge but I will admit the spicing is good, whatever about the chicken.
Gaillot and Gray operates as a bakery and coffee shop in the morning from 8am to 2pm serving French Boules (as found in Giles Gaillot’s home region of the Massif Central) along with madeleines, brioche, croissants and coffee.
From 4pm to 10 it serves pizza from its wood-burning oven. Just pizza.
There are no starters and no desserts although they do hope to find a good ice-cream and will be introducing a salad shortly plus wine from a friend’s vineyard in Gascony.
The crucial difference in G&G is emmental, exactly as used in rural French Pizza trucks.
Toppings are placed on the slow- fermented dough base with cheese on top which seals in the toppings and provides a pleasing tangy crust.
The room is functional with school chairs and simple tables and is probably not a place you will linger but it is welcoming and atmospheric.
There is a choice of eight pizzas.
Between the four of us we chose cheese and tomato (€10), chorizo and fresh chilli (€14), spinach, mushrooms and pinenuts and Bayonne ham and rocket (€15).
The pizzas were excellent and bubbled and squeaked with freshness but do take a little adjustment, as while mozzarella acts as a conduit for the toppings, the emmental is a little more dominant.
The most successful of the four we tried was the chorizo and fresh chilli, the stronger flavours competing well with the cheese although my Bayonne ham and rocket pizza just needed a few sprinkles from the helpful bottle of chilli-infused rapeseed oil from Broighter Gold for me to (almost) finish it.
G&G is a great addition to this already fascinating part of Dublin and I shall return.
Dinner for four including four pizzas, one bottle of juice and free corkage on a bottle of wine we brought — €56
Pizza: Tuesday – Saturday 4pm -10pm
Coffee Shop and Bakery: 8am - 2pm
In a Sentence: This fine simple pizza restaurant and bakery does just a few things, but crucially they do them very well using fine ingredients and a lot of style.
Gaillot and Gray,
59 Clanbrassil Street Lower,
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