(L - R): Louisa Smith and Jonathan Halling (founders of Ritrovo) with Cllr Mark Walsh at Ritrovo Pizza Takeaway.
Matthew Neville

South Tyneside takeaway serves up a slice of local culture

A “lockdown hobby turned start-up business’’ is embracing South Tyneside’s culture by featuring local food and drink staples in its first few weeks of trading.

Ritrovo is a takeaway business that recently opened on South Shields promenade serving Roman ‘Al Taglio’ inspired pizza slices with locally influenced toppings, along with a range of beers.

Co-founder Jonnie Halling, who has a background in food production and has spent the last eight years managing the factory at Minchella & Co, developed a love for pizza making during the pandemic.

Jonnie has teamed up with Louisa Smith, owner of Smith’s Seaview Café following the shared vision of growing a prom facing side of the business with a new and exciting concept.

Jonnie and Louisa are passionate about South Shields and are now enhancing the area’s food offering by creating honest, artisan products and taking inspiration from other local businesses.

One example of this local influence is Ritrovo’s use of a Dicksons saveloy in their Oi Oi Slice. The slice consists of an 80 per cent hydrated and 72 hour fermented dough and a bechamel base topped with caramelised red onion, Dickson’s saveloy, deep fried sage and mozzarella.

Jonnie says: “Over the last few years there has been a real movement in South Shields with the rise of independent food vendors who pride themselves with honest, artisan food. We’re thrilled to be working alongside the likes of Wolfman’s, Willie’s Burgers, Bessie’s Sweet Bakes, Up North Pizza, Zlich, and The Harton Hop House, to name a few.

“Like many, lockdown was a time to slow down and reflect and ultimately sparked my passion for pizza making, using the time to experiment and perfect the pizza dough.

“The initial response to Ritrovo has been incredible and we have ambitious plans looking ahead to 2022, with hopes of starting a delivery service across the North East and to collaborate with other local food businesses on unique pizza concepts.”

Cllr Mark Walsh, Lead Member for Regeneration and Economy at South Tyneside Council said: “It’s wonderful to see a new quirky business thrive in South Shields and we wish Ritrovo every success as we head into the new year.”

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