With Portsmouth awash with large chain pizza delivery places you tend to forget what ‘real pizza’ should taste and look like. At Circolo you won’t find a hotdog or tasteless plastic cheese stuffed in your crust but a light crisp handmade truly Italian dough. If that doesn’t inspire you then the relaxed, bright, modern vintage interior might persuade you to stay for awhile, grab a beer or coffee and order a slice of heaven!
Owner Gianni showed us round and talked about the interior design, pizza and his family’s history with the city.
The interior was designed by myself. We were lucky that when we pulled off the old plasterboard and found underneath the original tiles from when it was a butchers in the 50′s we were on to a good start. People thought I was mad wanting to keep them but I’m glad I did! They were a great find as these sort of tiles were in keeping with the style I wanted to go for. With the furniture and fittings, I tend to collect a lot of different things and can’t resist buying things that I like or think are designed well. So when I found the right location for the pizzeria I finally had somewhere to put all the pieces I’d collected. All the fixtures and fittings I have a bought over the years from vintage fairs, second hand shops, Ebay and the occasional auction. The marble work tops were saved from my grandads’ ice cream parlour he opened in the 30′s in Guildhall Square. There is even a section dedicated to it in the Portsmouth Museum, so it was great to bring them back to life after years of being sat in the garden. There are still loads of peoples’ names engraved into the marble from all those years ago.
Tell us about your pizza?
The most important thing when making a pizza is the dough, which we make fresh everyday. Every pizza chef has a slightly different recipe for making dough. They are all very similar but everyone has a slight variation on the text book recipe. We all know what the Italians are like!
With pizza, as with all Italian food, less is more. We use fresh ingredients and as many Italian products as we can get hold of, which we get delivered everyday. By combining three or four simple but fresh ingredients you get a delightful end product. Unlike the big pizza chains where everything is frozen and loaded up with processed food.
The final thing that makes a great pizza is the oven. For an authentic Italian pizza you need a stone bake oven to get a beautiful crispy base. We imported ours from Italy. It cooks the pizzas beautifully.
Verrechia’s in Guildhall Square. 14 October 1959.
What inspired you to open Circolo?
I opened Circolo as have spent a lot of time in Italy as my mothers’ side of the family is Italian and I still have a lot of family who live there. My grandad came over from Italy before the war and opened Portsmouth’s first ice cream parlour and coffee shop Verrecchia’s, so I guess it is in the blood! In Italy, there are pizzerias everywhere. You can go grab a quick pizza and a beer or even just a slice; I really enjoyed that when I lived there and missed not being able to do that in Portsmouth. I thought the city was missing something like that, so when I found a good location I took the plunge and got to work.
Do you have any plans for the future?
Plans for the future?! Well it is early days but I would like to open another few places out of town but I must be mad as there is a lot of hard work and stress involved.
Circolo has a Facebook page which is updated regularly and is full of glowing reviews.
You will find them at 78 Osbourne Road and can contact them on 02392 349 079.
Firstly we would like to say a huge thank you for your support in buying one of the 2014 Strong Island Calendars. It has been a truly remarkable response to a celebration of local photographers and their personal views of this city, plus with your help we have all raised £600 for our nominated calendar charities this year: Alzheimer’s Society and Feel Yourself Campaign. We cannot thank you enough for this and your continued support and we have already received interest for the 2015 Calendar with photographers snapping away and sending in some awesome photos before even this year is out.
It does however deeply frustrate us to say that despite our best efforts we discovered this week that there are a couple of errors in the calendar we produced. We always try to do the very best we can with all of the projects we work on and strive to meet and exceed people’s expectations but sadly on this occasion we haven’t been able to do that and for that we apologise.
As you may know, the Strong Island website and many of the projects we do (including the calendar) are managed and run voluntarily in our spare time, and without external funding. We often work late hours after our 9-5 jobs and we are always working on many different Strong Island projects and helping other people with theirs too. The last two months have been intensely busy, more than ever to be honest…but saying all that, we aren’t making any excuses. To be able to have something we believe in passionately and to run projects like this makes it all worthwhile, so it’s particularly disheartening for us that this situation has happened. We feel we have let you down.
To rectify this the problem with the calendar we have decided to re-print all of the calendars immediately and will be offering everyone who bought one a free replacement (with free P&P where required). Due to the fast approaching last postage date set by the Post Office we will also be hand delivering calendars in the Portsmouth area to get them to you before Christmas. Also, we are more than happy to offer a full refund to anyone who would like to return their calendar (we will cover the P&P too). To be very clear, the donations to the charities will not be effected and we are paying for all of this out of our own pockets.
If you ordered online with us we have already emailed you the details on how to receive your new calendar or how to obtain your refund, for everyone who purchased calendars in person please email us at email@example.com as soon as possible to organise your replacement.
We understand that many of these calendars have been bought as gifts for friends and family for Christmas and we cannot apologise enough for inconveniencing everyone at this time of year.
We sincerely hope this isolated issue doesn’t alter your perception of Strong Island and that you will be keeping an eye on the website for developments with next year’s calendar and the many projects we have coming up in 2014.
Again, thank you for your strong, continued support and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.
All the best,
Tristan, Paul, Stu & and the Strong Island Crew
It has been a surreal year already for Strong Island Recordings since the debut release for the label from Arrows of Love a little over a year back and for a long while we have mulled over a compilation release, being able to assemble a plethora of acts we love and have them highlight the eclectic sound of the label. Strong Island Recordings doesn’t aim to have a distinct ‘sound’ but rather highlight quality music: Post punk, surf, shoegaze, garage rock, psychedelic, pop, indie and so forth, the aim isn’t to be classified into one sound, the identity of the label is to showcase the music that we love and hopefully others will do too.
That being said since before Easter we have been compiling an assortment of tracks from various artists from Sweden, London, Hull and back to Portsmouth and Southsea. Quality over quantity was the intention and s0 we are very pleased to announce our first ever compilation – ‘Treacherous Tides Volume I‘ which is ten glorious tracks celebrating our inaugural year as a record label which is out TODAY.
Treacherous Tides Vol. 1 starts off with psychedelic/shoegaze wizards Dead Rabbits with ‘God’ previously unreleased bringing hazed out vocals and whirling guitars blurring the lines between doom laden psychedelia and shoegaze. The second track ‘Touch’ on the compilation is blissful, sun drenched shoegaze from Swedish outfit Westkust who we immediately asked to be a part of the label on first listen. Next up is Strong Island Recordings’ own Yoofs with ‘Hazy Days’. Euphoric and alluring ‘Hazy Days’ reflects the duo’s earlier sound, surf and shoegaze. With the compilation titled ‘Treacherous Tides’ Yoofs ‘Hazy Days’ is the blissful calm before the storm. The fourth track on the compilation ‘I Can’t Stand’ comes from closer to home, Portsmouth’s own one man machine (and his machine) The Boy I Used To Be. Edward sent this over as soon as he finished the recording and 30 minutes later we had signed the track to the compilation. It’s great to showcase the premier talent close to our homes and ‘I Can’t Stand’ in the vein of Cloud Nothings, Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Kurt Vile is a joyous lo fi pop gem. ‘Matthew’ from Tyrannosaurus Dead (recently in the NME as one’s to watch and also played our Southsea Fest stage and our first ever London show) bring their brilliant fuzzed out, indie pop sound previously released on the amazing Odd Box Records. Boneyards return to the label following the ‘Rest In Beach EP‘ with Vega Chain (also on the Herion Skateboard’s Video Nasty soundtrack) which is an eccentric, psychedelic surf rock track in the realm of an acid trip. The seventh track comes from the Thee mvp’s with ‘US Airways’ which is four and a half minutes of garage rock at its finest, Parquet Courts meets Ty Segall and The Cramps. If there was a riot party on a beach then ‘US Airways’ would be the soundtrack. Hull’s biggest kept secret Honeycomb Bones‘ ‘Keep Your Fever’ is smutty garage rock/pop with fuzzed out guitars, sleaze like vocals and a memorable chorus. It’s mind boggling as to why this duo isn’t more well known. Fallmouth’s The Red Cords continue the theme with scuzzy, surf styled garage punk with ‘Big Waves’ which was in fact a coincidence singing this track to the compilation and then the title being labelled ‘Treacherous Tides’. Last but certainly not least is Portsmouth’s newest duo, thrash combined with grunge and psychedelia, RickyFitts who are already one of the best live acts out there and we have their debut release with ‘Slouching Toward Nirvana’, expect to be hit with a tidal wave of sludge. It’s total mosh pit, party music. Keep an eye on this duo.
You can purchase the compilation on Amazon and iTunes now as well as numerous other download stores and is also available on Spotify.
Dead Rabbits ‘God’
Thee mvp’s ‘US Airways’
‘Keep Your Fever’ by Honeycomb Bones (Video by Strong Island Media)
Like everyone else in Portsmouth, the announcement a little over a month ago that BAE were ceasing shipbuilding in Portsmouth hit hard at Strong Island (you can read our article after the news was announced HERE). With over 500 years of history, shipbuilding in the Dockyard is part of the city’s identity and cultural DNA, ship maintenance is not the same as shipbuilding and it looked like a literal end of an era. The day after the news was announced we began working with local marine & defence consultancy Stanton Burdett Ltd on Portsmouth Shipbuilding, shaping a proposal that could make shipbuilding in Portsmouth viable and sustainable.
In the past month Portsmouth Shipbuilding has met with every stakeholder relating to this issue from UKTI to the shipbuilders themselves and today Portsmouth Shipbuilding is happy to announce the release of the proposal presentation, containing the details on how and why shipbuilding could continue. The key aim is to utilise the existing skills, facility and management expertise to create a successful and sustainable shipbuilding company, operating within Portsmouth Dockyard to deliver small and medium commercial/naval vessels for the domestic and export markets. Portsmouth Shipbuilding would be a social enterprise engaging with the local community and supporting the development of skills for 12-18 years olds & will also work with colleges, universities, businesses, councils and industry alike to create a collaborative programme of engagement, training, apprenticeships and mentoring to support grass roots Maritime working and Naval heritage for Portsmouth and the local region.
To find out much more The News today announced the proposal with the front page and a detailed two page article and interview (you can read online HERE) and the proposal presentation is now available to download from the updated Portsmouth Shipbuilding website.
We hope that with this proposal to be tabled to the city and the Government, the first real alternative to the closure, we can get the support of the people of Portsmouth and show that the city as a whole (and people further afield too) wish to continue 500 years of shipbuilding in the city.
If you could show your support initially by spreading the word to your friends & family it would be really appreciated and a like and a follow on the Portsmouth Shipbuilding Facebook page and Twitter account would not only lodge that support but also mean you will find out about the developments in the coming weeks straight away.
Castle Road has enjoyed something of a renaissance recently, with successful street fairs and the expansion of Pie & Vinyl the road has reaffirmed itself as one of Southsea’s most treasured locations.
The street is home to a number of eateries and cafe’s and it’s food culture seems to be coming into it’s own with something for everyone. From casual coffee stops, sandwiches, pies and now the reinvention of landmark bistro Truffles. The once dark and somewhat uninviting restaurant which has inhabited the same spot for decades is now under new ownership. The transformation is a thing of chic coastal beauty.
I caught up with the owner Dayne Hobbes who immediately made us feel relaxed with a coffee and a smile. As we sat down head chef Tim Trussler appeared with a basket of freshly baked bread and we began to discuss everything from interior design to Scandinavian baking.
Tell us about your journey? How did you come to own Truffles?
Truffles really is a family business, we’re all involved and between us have around 80 years experience in the restaurant business. I only moved to Southsea a year ago but first dreamed about having a restaurant on Castle Road ten years ago when we walked through here one day. I remember walking past thinking how much I’d like to own this place. It’s purely by word of mouth I came to own the restaurant. We’ve now been open 3 weeks!
Truffles has been completely renovated, talk us through the transformation?
The whole place has been completely opened up, we have re-used some of the original furniture and the kitchen required the most work. The kitchen is open onto the restaurant and Tim can easily communicate with front of house, keep an eye on what’s going on and also chat with customers. We sanded the dark wood floors to reveal light and bright boards, the walls are painted in Farrow and Ball which was a bit of a treat. The enormous mirror is a local purchase from Victoriana on Marmion Road. Overall the place has a relaxed coastal feel to reflect the locality.
How would you describe your menu, ingredients and wine selection?
We are British food with a French twist, our ingredients are sourced locally and our menu changes to reflect the seasons. Tim our chef trained under Gary Rhodes at Michelin starred Rhodes in the Square, London. Our seafood comes from Viviers and Johnson’s and as we are surrounded by the Hampshire countryside we get beautiful fresh game. We are very passionate about English wine and recommend Nyetimber a sparkling wine that easily rivals Champagne. We can match wines to your food and I do plan to have tastings (Dayne has a diploma from the Wine and Spirit education trust).
We enjoyed lunch which costs £9 for two courses or £12 for three courses. I have already booked in a birthday lunch in January and I can honestly say the food was wonderful and great value for money.
You can find more information, contact details and menus on the Truffles website.
The Creating Balance Project exhibition’s current residency at the Pitfield Pop-Up in Winchester ends today with the exhibition receiving some really great comments and coverage on websites, etc. Below are some photos by our own Claire Sambrook from a recent visit when many of the project’s artist/designer/photographer participants went up for a look. See more of Claire’s Creating Balance Project photos over on here Flickr.
The Creating Balance Project exhibition will return home to Portsmouth on the 10th of January 2014 for an extended exhibition at Aspex Gallery in Gunwharf, with an opening party and a series of other events and activities to be announced very soon. Ourselves and Anglepoise® are all really looking forward to showing the project to everyone in Portsmouth very soon!
To find out more about the project and exhibition please visit: