And to think that the owners of Fat Toni’s in Stroud were wondering about whether the name of their new takeaway was “too cheesy”. A week and several hundred pizzas later, they can’t believe how well the new business is going.
Brothers Darren and Jason Orsi, joined for the time being at least by dad Remo, opened the takeaway on the corner of Gloucester Street just over a week ago.
On the first night, last Thursday, there was a 20 metre queue on the pavement outside and they sold 170 pizzas. On Friday, they ran out of dough at 9.45pm, having sold 266 pizzas. The next evening was quieter but they still managed to shift a further 150.
The proof’s in the eating, as they say, and the blistering start to their new venture was proof that Stroud has a hearty appetite for authentic Italian cuisine, as you might expect from the town well-known for its foodie culture.
And Fat Toni’s will be a welcome addition, with the smell of freshly baked sourdough bases drifting along the street.
The brothers are both born in Stroud, with a half Italian mum and a dad from the village of Garfagana in northern Tuscany.
Darren, 29, is a former Marling pupil who lives above the shop and is the business brain behind the venture. Younger brother Jason, 27, used to go to Marling, now lives in Forest Green and has given up a job as a sous chef at Calcot Manor to start up Fat Toni's.
Jason’s something of a professor of sourdoughs– the takeaway offers a San Francisco base or the Isola D’Ischia option, where the culture comes from a 200-year-old bakery on the small island off the coast from Naples.
He was given a week to practice pizza dough making in the ovens at Calcot Manor before he left and reckons he is “97 per cent there” in his mission to make the perfect base.
For now though, the Sicilian tomatoes, authentic Italian pecorino cheese and other toppings are proving enough to have given Fat Toni’s a flying start.
“The whole thing just feels really natural,” say Darren. “We’ve done everything without the involvement of banks, so we’re relatively confident that it’s going to work.
“And we’re not really worried about anybody trying to compete with us because if you don’t know what you’re doing with sourdough cultures it’s just not going to work.
“Eventually we’re going to start doing a bakery as well, with traditional focaccias and topped versions which people can buy as snacks.
“But for now we’ve got our work cut out meeting demand and it’s exciting to be here.”
And their pizzas are not for the faint-hearted. Starting with an 11.5-inch version and going up to a giant 20-inch base (three times the surface area for double the price), they’re tasty and very good value for money.
The premises used to be occupied by the Door Youth Project charity, which has since moved to the tip end of town.
Fat Toni’s has already provided eight new jobs – six to delivery drivers and two dish-washers to cover the Friday and Saturday night rush.
And until now the news about Fat Toni’s has got out purely by word-of-mouth and considerable social media activity, with an active Facebook page informing potential and returning customers about what’s going on.
It’s taken a while for fast food to catch up with the gourmet revolution that has been sweeping the country for years now. But Fat Toni’s and the people of Stroud might just have something of a first here.