When restaurateur Valerio Calabro (Figo, La Svolta) and former European Group executive chef and hospitality consultant Ian Curley (also co-owner of French Saloon and Kirk’s Wine Bar) decided to open a production kitchen – for house-made pasta, cured meats, pickles and more – to facilitate their respective businesses, they didn’t expect to open another restaurant. But when they discovered a tiny space on Bridge Road in Richmond with a snug little dining area, they decided to make the most of it.
“We thought, ‘We’ll just do our production [during the day] but then at night-time we can seat people,’” Calabro says.
Despite having a name that means “cool” in Tuscan, Ganzo isn’t out to reinvent the wheel. The menu sticks to real-deal recipes from Italy, with a selection of antipasti, a few pastas and more than a dozen pizzas cooked in an electric oven. “We’re trying to make [the pizzas] a little bit crunchier [than those at La Svolta] so that when it’s takeaway it can travel better,” Calabro says. “So when you get it at home it’s still nice and crunchy, not chewy like the Neapolitan pizza.”
All the pizze rosse are topped with San Marzano tomato sugo, from a classic margherita to one with white anchovies, marinated olives, cherry tomatoes and garlic. There are also sugo-free pizze bianche, such as the Piemonte with truffle paste, fior di latte mozzarella, mixed mushrooms and 24-month matured San Daniele prosciutto, topped with wild rocket.
Elsewhere on the menu, find zuppetta di cozze, sautéed mussels and clams in a white wine, garlic, tomato and chilli sauce, served with bread baked in-house; and casarecce cacio e pepe, twisted short pasta with “pecorino-and-black-pepper fondue”, crunchy guanciale and pistachio crumbs. Pastas and pizzas can be made gluten-free, and you can sub the cheeses with a vegan alternative.
In the dining room, the fit-out is minimal with industrial accents. Large green pendant lights hang from an exposed ceiling, and chestnut-timber bentwood chairs slide on white ceramic tiles. Since reopening after lockdown, the rear garage has been transformed into a beer garden with artificial grass and graffiti-style wall art.
Inside, a glowing green neon sign emulates the pharmacy street signs found all over Italy, while other Ganzo logo designs appearing on posters take inspiration from iconic Italian brands, such as Cinzano vermouth and backpack label Invicta (Calabro used to wear an Invicta bag to school).
The production kitchen is also an opportunity for Calabro to introduce his own products – such as cured capocollo, bresaola and speck – to the venues where Curley works as a consultant. “All the projects that are going to come up from this one are very interesting and full of excitement,” Calabro says.