Two Wearside restaurants named among best in the country for pizza

Gerry Falivene from Mamma Mia Italiano and Antonio Mozzillo and Stefania Di Mauro with Samantha and Terence Catcheside from Azzurri Italian Kitchen.
Gerry Falivene from Mamma Mia Italiano and Antonio Mozzillo and Stefania Di Mauro with Samantha and Terence Catcheside from Azzurri Italian Kitchen.
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Two Wearside restaurants got a slice of the glory at the English Italian awards after being named as some of the best places in the country for pizza.

Azzurri Italian Kitchen in Washington and Mamma Mia Italiano, Fence Houses, were both named as runners up in the UK National Italian Pizza Championships category in the prestigious awards and were only pipped to the winner’s post by Mondello’s Restaurant Rossendale in Lancashire.

Gerry preparing his pizza at the championships

Gerry preparing his pizza at the championships

Finalists were invited to an awards ceremony at The Principal Hotel in Manchester to celebrate the cream of the country’s Italian restaurants.

Around 36,000 public votes were cast this year in a bid to find who offered the best Italian cuisine in England.

The Pizza Championships category featured a cook off on the morning of the awards, in which chefs had to present a signature pizza to the judging panel, including Italian TV chef Gianfranco Iervolino.

Gerry Falivene from Mamma Mia Italiano in Front Street, which also came runner up in the Best Pasta category at the awards, said: “There were thousands of restaurants from across the country who entered the awards, so to reach the final is amazing. I’m from the south of Italy and I learnt to cook from my mum’s family so my food is very traditional Italian food and proper pizza.

Pizza from Azzurri Italian Kitchen

Pizza from Azzurri Italian Kitchen

“I feel really proud to have dishes in the awards and it’s only inspired me to push myself further.”

Azzurri’s honour in the awards comes in only their first year after business partners Terence Catcheside and Antonio Mozzillo set up the restaurant in The Victoria Inn in Oxclose Road in April.

Terence said: “We were over the moon to get this accolade in our first year of business. Our customers have been really delighted for us too, they were following our progress in the competition on social media.

“I’d like to say a special thanks for all the support from customers, friends and family, especially my wife Samantha.”

Warren Paul, founder of The Italian Awards, said: “We have been blown away by the support in England this year, what a special evening. The English

Italian community have worked so hard and deserve the recognition, with over 36,000 votes cast and lots of pizza, pasta and gelato tried and tasted by our independent judges. We would like to thank our fantastic supporters and sponsors for making the event happen annually.”

English Italian Awards 2018 winners and runners up

•England’s Best Aperitivo

Winner: LIVIN’italy Leeds

•England’s Best Wine Selection

Winner: LIVIN’italy Leeds

•England’s Best Authentic Italian Menu

Winner: Route5 Southend on Sea

•England’s Best Family Owned Restaurant

Runner up: Mario’s Skegness

Winner: Cucina di Vincenzo Liverpool

•England’s Best Gelateria

Winner: Paolo and Donato’s Italian Deli Liverpool

•England’s Best Café

Winner: Bellissimo Burnley

•England’s Italian Favourite Business

Runner up: Rossi’s Italian Restaurant Sheffield

Winner: El Murrino Bournemouth

•England’s Best Restaurant Group

Winner: Al Forno Darlington

•England’s Best Team

Runner up: Nonna’s Italian Restaurant Sheffield

Runner up: Mario’s Skegness

Winner: Sorella Sorella Newcastle upon Tyne

•England’s Best Pizzeria

Runner up: Crust Liverpool

Runner up: El Murrino Bournemouth

Winner: Stable Hearth Darlington

•England’s Best Pasta

Runner up: Mamma Mia Italiano

Runner up: Cucina di Vincenzo Liverpool

Winner: Casa Tua Cromer Street London

•England’s Best Newcomer

Runner up: Lido di Meo Whitley Bay

Runner up: MonteLeone Chesterfield

Winner: Fritto Italian Street Food Liverpool

•England’s Best Italian Restaurant

Runner up: The Italian Club Fish Liverpool

Winner: A’Vucciria Rossendale

•England’s Cuoco of the Year

Runner up: Balllaró Restaurant Burnley

Runner up: Mondello’s Restaurant Rossendale

Winner: Amalia Italian Restaurant Liverpool – Chef Antonio Lixi

•UK National Italian Pizza Championships – English Final

Runner up: Azzurri Italian Kitchen Washington

Runner up: Mamma Mia Italiano Houghton le Spring

Winner: Mondello’s Restaurant Rossendale