Posts tagged pizza
Border Control: How do you Import Pizza into the Country?

Let’s be honest, everybody loves pizza. Pizza combines everything good and pure in the world: a mouth-watering crust, tart tomato paste, sizzling cheese and an assortment of toppings satisfying every craving from sweet to savoury.

The cheese, people.

Oh, the cheese!

Pizza has us by the heart but it’s very clear that some of us pizza lovers are taking it to the next level! Apparently, the varieties and brands of pizza available in Nigeria are not enough to quell the cravings of the wealthier demographic.

Well, that’s according to the Nigerian Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh.

See, a couple of weeks ago, Audu Ogbeh claimed that the well and wealthy in Nigeria are now ordering pizza in London and having it brought into Nigeria via the British Airways. While Ogbeh’s claims are yet to be verified, we would like to look at the possibility of actually importing pizza from London.

How’s the order made and delivered? Who brings the pizza into Nigeria? If you could afford such a luxury, what pizza brand would you like to bring in from London?

Let’s take a closer look.

The Definitive Guide to Importing Pizza – As Told by Audu

On the matter of logistics, Audu Ogbeh has left a lot to the imagination. We have no concrete details!

Audu Ogbeh has blatantly refused to name names or give any deep insights into the delivery process involved. We’re sure we aren’t the only ones who want to understand the dynamics of importing pizza! While Audu Ogbeh hasn’t given us any premium facts, he’s left some pretty good puzzle pieces. Time to connect the dots…

While addressing the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh dropped enough clues to form a convincing theory or two as to how pizza is imported. Our two clues:

  • “Do you know, sir, there are Nigerians who use their cellphones to import pizza from London?”

  • “Buy in London, they bring it on British Airways in the morning to pick up at the airport.”

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Theory 1: Foreign Food Couriers – Flying High, Foraging Food.

Anyone rich enough to consider importing pizza would definitely be rich enough to have foreign food couriers – I mean, if you’re going all out, go all out!

Theory 1 is pretty simple – Our well and wealthy countrymen inform their foreign food couriers when they begin to crave that UK deep dish. These couriers get the pizza from their employer’s choice pizzeria and board the next available flight to Nigeria. Once in Nigeria, they contact their employers who then send their local couriering counterparts to pick up the package. Once delivered, our foreign friends head back to the UK, awaiting the next whim of their employers.

Simple, straightforward and stress-free – well except for the courier who has to endure a roughly 14-hour total flight time.

Theory 2: Cargo Service – How Express is Express?

From Audu Ogbeh’s rant, we can confirm two things:

  1. Pizza can be ordered via cellphones, bypassing the need for our flying friends, the food couriers.

  2. The British Airways are the primary cargo service involved in this importation saga.

While these can be confirmed from our puzzle pieces, this theory is still a bit rocky. There are more than a few loopholes.

Pizza can be ordered online but where is it delivered to? Are there pizza chains in the UK that offer international delivery? Is the package immediately given a tracking number and sent out? If we had a few more facts, we would be able to draw a more precise conclusion.

Shall we page Audu?

Theory 3: The ‘Pizzaminatti’ – A legitimate Secret Society.

Let’s be honest guys, organised secret societies have been formed for far less. Don’t smirk, just hear me out. Wouldn’t you consider joining a secret society whose sole purpose was to eat foreign pizza? You wouldn’t be required to do anything sinful – except eat copious amounts of cheese which could potentially ruin your diet. All you’d be required to do is meet the society’s requirements, keep the secret and boom! Pizza across the world is brought to your doorstep.

With this theory though, the only question left to answer is why Audu Ogbeh knows about the Pizzaminatti. Is he a member? If yes, why is he ratting the society out? Could there be a not-so-secret rival society to the Pizzaminatti? Possibly the Fit-Fam? In a country like Nigeria where questions are often left unanswered, it’ll be no surprise that this cannot be answered.

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Ports are closed! Conclusions have been drawn!

Whatever the logistics of this wild phenomenon may be, importing pizza will never not be funny and/or absurd.

There are a ton of places in Lagos – including subsidiaries of international brands such as Dominos and Pizza Hut – where good pizza can be obtained. But hey, if you can afford exotic pizza, why not? To be fair, Jand2Gidi was bringing in Big Macs a couple years ago.

If you could afford such a grand luxury, what brand of pizza would you be bringing through the borders? Would it be from the UK or would you work your own logistics and scour the globe? Whatever the case may be, pizza is one dish that’s sure worth the hassle.

7 Square Follows the Lagos Restaurant Template to a T
 

NOSA: Over the weekend, we had a little dinner discussion about dining in Lagos and one thing that came up about was the role of a chef in Lagos. It is very rare to find a restaurant where the executive chef is highly visible on a daily basis. Visible in the sense that you can see them actively managing employees, checking on guests etc. There aren’t lots of places where you can spot the chef on floor and flag his attention if anything goes wrong.

What most restaurants tend to have is a “cook” and a front of house manager, which leaves a bit of a leadership vacuum.

FOLLY: And empty apologies tacked on with “my manager is not around”

NOSA: Precisely, because this leadership vacuum also comes with a lack of ownership and more often than not the second order effect of all this is inconsistency. It’s why your penne pesto tastes one way on one day and tastes another way on another day. 

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This brings us to our to 7 Square, which, like most Lagos restaurants, runs with the Ops Manager + Cook model. Or it appears to.

FOLLY: I’m pretty sure I saw the owner outside watching the game while we were there. Anyway, the menu at 7 Square was exceptionally boring and lacking passion and direction.

NOSA: In other words, it’s extensive, boring and all over the place. It’s simply a copy and paste of what you find in most places in Lagos. This could be a Cactus or Crust & Cream if you switched the logos out. Some random steak here and some generic burger there. Toss in some pizza or a nondescript pasta dish.

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NOSA: We didn’t have a bad experience at 7 Square, pretty good in fact, but it just left so much to be desired. Restaurateurs can’t keep opening the same restaurant and running the models. The bubble is going to burst soon. 

To start, we got the My Favorite; a weird platter with humus, sausages, french fries and pita bread. From the menu description, I thought everything would be in the hummus so Folly got pretty curious and ordered it.

FOLLY: I imagine that this was called My Favourite because the Lebanese owner used to eat sausages and hummus as a little boy. I can almost picture it. What I didn’t imagine was that it’ll be served separately. I thought we were going to get a hummus donut with a generous helping of sausage meet in the centre.

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NOSA: The hummus was serviceable, but the sausage was surprisingly great. Mixed with bell peppers and tomatoes, the sausage had this interesting BBQ kick to it and you get some hummus in there (weird, I know), it’s a party. 

FOLLY: The barbecue sauce and hummus combined oddly well. It seems like one those whimsical creations that children love.

NOSA: For my main, I got the Royal PIzza, which was surprisingly good. Thin crust, stringy cheese and straight out of a wood fried oven. A bit like what you’d get at Taverna or Pizzeriah or House Cafe, but a shade more expensive.

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FOLLY: The crust was a little bit more crispy than I’d like, you couldn’t fold the slice to eat it without it cracking everywhere. They used canned mushrooms but I get it fresh imported produce is expensive.

NOSA: On the bright side, this means more restaurants are catching onto the greatness of the wood fried oven for pizza and we can finally stop subjecting ourselves to Dominos as a society.

FOLLY: I ordered my main, the Half Grilled Chicken, to be basic.

NOSA: The name sounds funny too. Is it a grilled half chicken or a chicken grilled halfway? LOL.

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FOLLY: This is going to sound snobby but most times when I looked over at what other diners order at restaurants - most times groups that consist of Middle Aged Nigerians order some variant of rice and chicken so I decided to join them.

NOSA: That’s the go-to order in every Nigerian movie. Anyway, the chicken was surprisingly large. Shouts to them for being generous.

FOLLY: As well as largely forgettable. It was (thankfully) not overcooked and so wasn’t dry on the inside - kudos to them on that. Apart from that, there was nothing distinctive about the flavour so I took it home to recook it into my Zoodles which worked out perfectly.

NOSA: I read this thing somewhere about how eating chicken is bad for you from one of the gym bros I follow on Instagram. According to that piece of bro science, thanks to the way we rear chickens, they’re always in a state of fright. This fright releases some chemicals (bro science never specifies the chemical), which we eventually consume. Messes with your whole mojo and you can’t lift heavy anymore. I don’t eat a lot of chicken and I did a 225 lb power clean the other day so gym bro must be right.

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NOSA: We tried to close out with dessert, but from the 6-item dessert menu, they only had two items available. This brings us back to my little spiel at the start of this. When there’s no ownership in a restaurant, you get things like the polite waiter telling you all the dessert is available and when you ask the waiter to confirm, the waiter tells you they only have two items. 


POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: Eh, it’s ok. Largely boring, but the food is good. Very safe option.

FOLLY: I honestly thought 7 Square was about the desserts on their menu because they had a decent selection so to be told only two items - one of which was a fruit salad - were available was moderately disappointing.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

 My Favorite - N5000

Half Grilled Chicken - N6500

Royal Pizza - N5500

 

PARKING

Bountiful 

Beneath the Confusing Menu Lies Deliciousness at House Cafe
 
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NOSA: There’s something about House Cafe that upsets me so much. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Oh wait, I know. Why are there three different restaurants but one restaurant at the same time?

FOLLY: It’s like House Cafe thinks this is Eko Hotel in 1600 square feet.

NOSA: There’s a regular restaurant menu, a pizza menu, a pasta and pizza menu, and coffee shop menu. You’re basically given a whole bunch of papers to look at like you walked into a Nigerian bank asking for a loan.

FOLLY: When we arrived the waitress asked if we wanted to sit in the lifestyle restaurant, coffee shop, or “Bacio”

3 Part Luxury Culinary Experience
-Bacio: Italian Cuisine| Pizzeria
-The HouseCafe Restaurant: Intercontinental
-Mocca Cafe : Coffee Beverages| Pastry
— House Cafe Instagram

NOSA: Look, I get the concept but the owners and I clearly have philosophical differences on this. What on earth is a “Lifestyle Restaurant” anyway?

From the abstract (MOCCA), for its tick, freshly brewed coffee and alcohol twist to BACIO Italia, for the neo-Italian cuisine with assortments of alternative dinning for clients by night, the House Café has a knack to offer something for everyone with choice of delicious meals, fine dining, and unforgettable moments.
— House Cafe Website

NOSA: Why couldn’t all three menus be streamlined into one thing?

FOLLY: Terrible idea, that’ll result in one of those 15 page menus. I’d prefer they just streamline and focus on one cuisine.

NOSA: Or maybe something seasonal or a lunch/dinner split.

FOLLY: Asking for too much there, bro.

NOSA: Why does it have to be so overwhelming and just a lot. I just want to fight the owners.

The Francophone waitress is really pleasant though. They need to keep her.

FOLLY: This is why Nigeria isn’t progressing. You people don’t like our local content

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NOSA: To start, we ordered the rocket and prosciutto pizza aka Roca Rocket

As much as I hate the concept of the restaurant, the pizza was so good. There’s an inverse relationship between how I feel about the restaurant versus how I feel about the pizza.

There’s actual rocket on it and not spinach like the rubbish pizza at Bottles. This might be my new favorite pizza in Lekki.

FOLLY: It’s the only good pizza in Lekki.

NOSA: I know there isn’t a lot of competition, but it nearly blows Harvest out the water.

FOLLY: The rocket was fresh, and the serving of prosciutto and feta was very generous on the pizza - so I had no complaints.

 NOSA: Also really good was the tagliatelle. The sauce was the right amount of sweet and the tagliatelle was al dente as I liked it. Doesn’t hurt that the shrimp serving is very generous.

FOLLY: Sweetness seemed to come from the onions, wine and just a little bit of sugar.

NOSA: But yeah, you should order this.

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NOSA: The only let down for me was the duck. It was definitely cooked a little too much and the end result was bleh beef-tasting duck. If anything, it should taste closer to a dark meat chicken thigh than boiled meat.

FOLLY: When it was first served, I had to ask the waitress if she hadn’t placed an order for the lamb cutlet instead.

NOSA: Oh, and the fries were rubbish.

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FOLLY: Since they also pride themselves on having a cafe and bakery, I ordered the cheesecake for dessert. The gelatin top was a first for me and overall it was good enough.

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POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: I have my complaints and reservations about the restaurant’s concept, but I can’t deny that the food is actually good. It hurts me to say it that I’ll be back again.

FOLLY: I really liked their pizza and I’ll definitely be back for that at the very least.

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

Cheesecake - N3000

Roca Rocket - N5000

Soy Roast Duck - N9800

Prawns Tagliatelle - N4800

 

 

PARKING

Sufficient.

Taste Test: Bottles Pizza
 

NOSA: In our Bottles review, we mentioned the addition of pizza to the menu. A restaurant specializing in Tex Mex fare suddenly adding pizza to its menu is probably one of the weirder things we’ve encountered in Lagos.  Not the weirdest though, that one belongs to the Tex Mex spot at Ikeja City Mall with Efo Riro on the menu. That one will never not be funny. 

FOLLY: Word is Bottles built a proper wood-fired oven to go with it too.

NOSA: Adding pizza to the menu is definitely weird, but I’m not going to lie and say Bottles hasn’t been thorough about it. The pizza selection isn’t boring, on paper, and they deliver too.  The Pesto Pizza, in particular, looks very interesting. 

NOSA: For our little experiment, we went with the Parma & Rocket Pizza. The rocket wasn’t really rocket. At my big age, I think I should know what rocket is. What’s on the pizza is actually a baby spinach. It looked and tasted like it. I know my vegetables, fam.

FOLLY: Nosa doesn't eat fruit but he makes up for it in vegetables. I guess that's a good thing. Anyway, yes he is right definitely spinach and not rocket. 

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NOSA: They did warn that everything on the menu was subject to availability of ingredients, but it would’ve been nice if we were warned ahead of them bringing the actual pizza. I mean, look at the rocket on Sabor’s Surf & Turf Flatbread and how they use real rocket. 

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SABOR

Bottles

Bottles

FOLLY: The parma ham was okay but cutting it up in squares would have been better than spreading uncut atop the slices and thus creating a logistical challenge . 

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NOSA: As you’ve probably gauged by now, Bottles leans towards the thin crust wood-fired style like Pizze-riah and La Taverna.

FOLLY: While we're comparing, the quantity of parma ham was a little bit less than you'd get on a pizza at either of the aforementioned places.

NOSA: Yeah, unlike the aforementioned two, our pizza wasn’t also particularly fresh. The limited “cheesiness” hinted at it, but the crust gave it away. 

FOLLY: I also wasn't particularly impressed by the quality and quantity of cheese on this pizza. The base tomato sauce was more prevalent than the cheese was.

NOSA: It tasted like it was made some hours earlier and just heated up before it was served to us. Thin crust pizzas don’t really “keep” well. If it’s not eaten fresh, it’ll expose many a pizza parlor. The crust quickly turns stiff. If you’ve eaten a day old baguette, you should be familiar with how it hardens. With a thin crust pizza, it’s like eating a biscuit.

POSTSCRIPT

NOSA: It such a shame because Bottles has clearly put a lot into this pizza thing happen and such rookie errors should not occur. It’s an easy fix though and I do hope they fix it. 

FOLLY: Or maybe we caught them on a bad day? Or maybe they should just maintain their focus on Tex-Mex? If you've tried it can you let us know your experience?

The Harvest is Here, But is it Bountiful?
 

FOLLY: Over the weekend, Nosa and I checked out The Harvest, one of the newer restaurants in the Lekki area. Harvest reminded me a lot of SAFI because it's co-located within an apart-hotel, The Bridge, similar to SAFI that's within a boutique hotel, also in Lekki. 

NOSA: The Harvest is run by Claudio Indovino, who also manages day-to-day business at Talindo. From his Instagram account and conversations with him when we had our Lunch Club at Talindo, he comes off really passionate about the restaurant business so I had big expectations when we checked out Harvest.

FOLLY: The restaurant itself is very nicely done up. It's a bit industrial and there's a liberal use of metal, brown, blacks and dark wood. The Harvest also has those metal chairs that are in most Lagos restaurants in these days.

NOSA: The Bridge, which houses Harvest, is very clear about its Brooklyn inspirations and you can see them in full form when walk into Harvest.   

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FOLLY: The Harvest doesn't have an appetizer or starter menu per say so we decided to share a pizza as our starter. 

NOSA: The menu is, for lack of a better word, curt. It gets straight to it. Mains, sandwiches, pizza, and cocktails. Boom. You can check out the full thing on 234Menu.

FOLLY: I was seeking the strength of the Black Panther in an unlikely place, so I ordered the Wakanda pizza.

[Ed. Note: Folly came up with this joke all by herself]

The toppings (chicken suya, red onion and a generous helping of oregano) hardly had anything to do with Wakanda or the Black Panther, so I'm calling it now that the naming of this was random. I'm sure it was done to excite basic people like me into ordering it - I'm disgusted that it worked.

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NOSA: Speaking of oregano, why isn't it a bigger "thing" with pizzas in Lagos? If my memory doesn't fail me, you get oregano in those little packets when you order take out pizza. The by-the-slice spots usually had them in those salt shaker things. Don't think I've found a place in Lagos that serves pizza with some oregano on the side. Might be an American thing, to be fair. I haven't really looked up its origins.

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FOLLY: The Wakanda Pizza wasn't your typical thin crust, rounded, hand spun, and triangle sliced pizza that you'd expect to get at La Taverna or Pizza-Riah. Instead, the base was a fluffy flat bread that was shaped more like an uneven rectangle and the pizza pieces were a random mix of right angle and isosceles triangles. 

NOSA: I really loved how "imperfect" the pizza was. It gave it this weird authenticity that I can't quite explain. Maybe I got conned like Folly was with the Wakanda name. In my defense, the cheese was absolutely fantastic. When I was little, might have been six or seven at the time, we lived in Italy for about year-ish. That year, I tasted pizza for the first time ever and I can still remember how much I loved the stringiness of the cheese. The pizza at Harvest was a throwback to that time, from the fresh dough to the the stringy cheese. You only get that type stringiness when you use proper mozzarella. Like, the whole milk stuff and not one of those shredded cheese blends that most places use. 

FOLLY: The chicken suya wasalso  legit with yaji and all and I, too, appreciated the liberal sprinkling of oregano.

FOLLY: I ordered the chicken shawarma at first because a while ago, I spotted it on their Instagram a few weeks ago but Nosa's judge eyes made me swap it for the Lamb Chops. The lamb chops were very confusing because the meat while dangerously tough, managed to pack in a lot of flavour. 

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NOSA: Look, if you're going to serve a tough piece of meat, just do everyone a favor and provide a steak knife. I'm not trying dislocate the joints in my finger because I want meat. It's essentially a human rights violation.

FOLLY: Usually, when the meat is just hard - it tastes like nothing for example, Grill by Deli's. At the Harvest, I loved how the herbs were infused into the meat. I imagine that level of flavour was achieved by both a dry rub and also cooked using a herb infused oil. 

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Now, the toughness of the meat I'll attribute to two factors: poor quality meat and the cooking method (short period of time at high heat).

NOSA: Low and slow is the motto. If it's a tough cut, cook it on low heat for a long ass time. That way you soften the meat without drying it out. Learnt it from Guy Fieri so I know it works.

FOLLY: If you aren't braising your lamb chops, I don't think there's really a point. The poor quality meat upsets me because it's priced at a premium (N8500). I shouldn't be getting what I believe are local lamb chops at that price point. 

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NOSA: For all the disappointment of the lamb chops, they more than made up for it in the The Eatalian burger. When they drop the burger right in front you, you'll probably think "...this thing looks like struggle" or "...what is Italian about this?". 

Well, that's what I thought anyway. It wasn't much of a looker, but it blew my mind. Again, the cheese was top quality, but that's not even what gets you hooked. It's the roasted red peppers that give it a unique edge. If you've ever had a multiple course Italian dinner, you should be familiar with antipasto. Roasted bell peppers, more often than not, make a starring appearance in those spreads. Now, imagine those roasted peppers in a burger.

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That's exactly what The Eatalian tastes like. If Italy was a big on burgers like America, a burger like the Eatalian would probably be their signature. It perfectly captures the essence of Italian flavors between two buns. Just excellent. 

FOLLY: The Pine-Ginger could have done with a little more ginger. I love ginger in drinks and I felt that the gingerale in this was weak and was easily over powered by the pineapple juice.  

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POSTSCRIPT

FOLLY: The service at Harvest was good even though they had a large group while we were there. The food service was also very speedy and that really impressed me - again they were having a large party and everything was still running smoothly. 

NOSA: It's definitely worth a visit. 

VERDICT

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DAMAGE

The Eatalian - N4500

Pine & Ginger - N3500

Lamb Chops - N8500

Wakanda Pizza - N3500

 

 

PARKING

They have a large parking lot