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Different slice of life for Lymington Indian restaurant pair

Seb Berta of eatPIZZA (photo: Becky takes Photos)
Seb Berta of eatPIZZA (photo: Becky takes Photos)

WHY would an award-winning Indian restaurant owner open a pizzeria?

The answer, says Shah Malek, owner of Lymington’s Rivaaz eatery, is that when he is off duty it is pizza which is his go-to comfort food – and his kids absolutely love it too.

Shah told the A&T: “I am a huge fan of pizza, who isn’t? It is just one of those great things in life.”

This week saw Shah and co-owner Seb Berta, who is the manager of Rivaaz, open eatPIZZA in Gosport Street which they describe as “a great, casual, fun neighbourhood place for people to enjoy”.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions it will have to launch offering takeaway only. But it is hoped to open fully as soon as the rules permit, when it will be open all week, apart from Tuesdays, from 12.30pm to 9.30pm.

It will not be offering deliveries, as Shah says: “I want it to be a proper pizzeria where people can come with their friends and family, rather than just a pizza takeaway.”

He hopes the venue is just the start as he has longer-term plans to expand eatPIZZA, aiming at opening another 10 within 10 years.

Shah said: “We have created 16 new jobs in Lymington and if the expansion plans go ahead that could be another 160-200 jobs.”

But for now, he says, he and Seb “can’t wait” to welcome diners to eatPIZZA when allowed, adding: “I actually feel quite blessed to be in this position. It is nice to be able to offer people something to look forward to – a bit of joy in all this doom and gloom.”

There are 50 covers inside the restaurant with 30 outside where there is a pizza oven from the brand run by Tom Gozney, a local entrepreneur whose ovens are renowned for producing mouth-watering pizzas.

As well as pizzas, made from flour ordered direct from Italy, the new venue will offer craft beers as well as wine.

Shah said: “The reason we opened it was because we felt there was a lack of a really good independent pizza place in the area. We will be offering Neapolitan pizza which has a fluffy crust.

“The pizzas are as authentic as possible down to importing the finest 00 flour we use in our dough direct from Italy.

“We have also sourced the best ingredients including fior di latte mozzarella cheese. The standards and high quality we are known for at Rivaaz will be very much in evidence at eatPIZZA.”

Shah said: “People in the garden will be able to order direct from a chef who will cook the pizza in front of them.

“We are really hoping that, government rules allowing, we will be able to open the garden sometime in April.”

Inside or out, diners will find themselves struggling to decide which pizza to plump for from a choice of 10 including one – the eatFIRE which has a topping of marinated chicken, chili and paprika – that pays homage to one of the most popular dishes on Rivaaz’s Indian menu.

Shah said: “Most people eat it in Rivaaz with naan bread rather than rice. So, it actually does make a great pizza!”

Among other choices are the eatMEAT consisting of tomato sauce base, spicy nduja, red onions, fior di latte mozzarella and piquillo pepper.

Vegans are catered for with the eatVEGAN with a tomato sauce base, cherry tomatoes, red onions, vegan mozzarella, and garlic and thyme breadcrumbs. People can also add their own toppings at an additional price.

Pizza prices range from £9 to £15. There are also side dishes including chicken strips, calamari, fries and salad. Gluten-free pizzas are also available.

Some lucky people have already had a chance to enjoy an eatPIZZA with Shah delivering free servings to a local doctor’s surgery and Lymington hospital.

Shah said: “We just wanted to say thank you for all their hard work.”

To order online visit www.eat-pizza.co.uk or call 01590 619488.

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