27 Mar 2017 / 12:03

Panzerotto Blues, the Apulia street food that Londoners loves

The recipe is textbook Apulian, the sales formula is unbeatable street food. Two years ago Gianni Perillo decided to leave his beloved Altamura to  dive headfirst in dining the business. He is now the king of Greenwich market in London.

Panzerotto Blues, the Apulia street food that Londoners loves

The recipe is textbook Apulian, the sales formula is unbeatable street food. Two years ago Gianni Perillo decided to leave his beloved Altamura to  dive headfirst in dining the business. He is now the king of Greenwich market in London.

The idea

“No, it’s not a calzone”, this is rule #1. The following is the recipe, which must strictly follow the canons of Apulian tradition. The third rule is that “it’s mandatory to taste”. The name is Gianni Perillo, Apulian to the bone, and native to Altamura. Unemployed with a head full of ideas, he decided to reboot by moving to London.  “I initially thought of moving to Ibiza, a place I dearly love, but then I realized the place was still not ready for street food”. But why the fixation with street food? “I used to work in a completely different field, nor did I have a particular predisposition towards cooking. Portable food however could guarantee quick income – it’s a smart and popular formula”. These considerations compelled Gianni to choose London as his destination, “the capital of street food in Europe”. Coming up with the idea of offering panzerotti was easy: “it’s a tasty, portable food, plus it’s typical of where I’m from”. Gianni moved to London in 2015, learned the language, studies the market and starts getting his hands dirty with the help of his cousin, a baker who has inherited the bread-making craft from his grandfather, who was in turn a prominent baker in bread-capital of Apulia, Altamura. In September 2015 Gianni sets up a small stall in the small Covent Garden, Stratisans market, “a place intended for small start-ups but which didn’t work well for me: it stayed open until 3 pm, but people don’t eat panzerotti in the morning, it’s more of an afternoon/evening snack”. He later comes in contact with a Greenwich market manager (open daily 11am to 5.30pm) and makes him taste his product: “He immediately asked me to take a stall in the market”. So at the end of 2015 in the heart of Greenwich, one of London’s most historic markets, Panzerotto Blues is born.

Case study: a success story

The market stall is entirely dedicated to the Apulian street food item. As Gianni likes to underline, is not a Neapolitan calzone: “It says everywhere that we do not serve calzones. They’re great, but just made differently from our product. A totally new item for the London palate, different also from the fried dough pizzas”. This is why clients stopping at Gianni’s stall are offered a free sample. “Anyone can taste our panzerotti, we fry them on the spot” says Gianni. “The fact that they’re homemade and prepared expressly is what attracts Londoners the most. They are probably used to eating ready-made street food specialties”. For this reason, the success of Panzerotto Blues was quick to arrive: “Customers immediately appreciated our product, a little because it was a novelty, and also because it was freshly made before their eyes”.

The offer

Obviously also because of the flavour and the ingredients used. “I use Mulino Caputo flours, the tomato sauce I use is Mutti”. The meat is equally Italian, “I purchase it from a local purveyor”, as well as extra virgin olive oil, which hails directly from Apulia, “my family’s home production”. In addition to these ingredients, are British staples, like fresh produce, “which I buy at the wholesale market here”, same goes for the pork meat “I use for a special peasant recipe I developed especially for the UK public”. Gianni likes to stress that the flavour of Italian cuisine must be maintained intact, respected and valued; but also adapted to the local palate and customs, “I sell 7 different panzerotti, some are in a style that caters to the UK public, some others have a more international taste. I like the idea of answering the request of different customers, while maintaining the essence of my region’s tradition”. So think, panzerotto Regina, filled with brined capers, olives, mushrooms and ham. Or the vegan option filled with seasonal vegetables. Or the one filled with ground meat and peas; or others stuffed with British poultry and pork. The most popular of his panzerotti however is his classic, the simplest one, theMargherita. Who is Gianni’s typical customer? “Tourists. They are many and of different nationalities”. What’s your favourite stall in the market, besides yours? “I like the Venezuelan kids selling burritos”. 

Panzerotto Regina

On the wave of his success, Gianni is already planning to open more branches around town: “By the end of 2017 I’d like to start a crowd funding project to start a Panzerotto Blues chain around the city’s strategic positions”. And beyond London, too: “At the moment I’m in touch with an ex colleague who is in Malaga, Spain – he sounds interested in the format. We have not set anything in stone yet, but the thought of launching in other countries is surely appealing”. As well as launching in other, larger London markets, “Like Camden Town or Borough Market, which represent my final goal.”

Panzerotto Blues | London | 5 B Greenwich Market | tel. +44 7440279823 | it-it.facebook.com/panzerottoblues/

by Michela Becchi
translated by Eleonora Baldwin

Tagged under:
Previous
Next

Join the discussion

Copyright 2015
Gambero Rosso Spa
P.Iva06051141007, Italy
All Rights Reserved

IT edition