It was February 2013, two friends (Ryan and Peter) took a trip to Palermo, Sicily and on a slightly drunken evening stumbled into a pizzeria serving Neapolitan style pizza.
They were served what was to change their idea of pizza from ‘thin and crispy’ or ‘thick and greasy’ to a warming, rustic soft cloudy disk of wonderment, adorned with high-quality toppings, accompanied with amazing wine. The conversation ensued which can be summed up thus:
“Ahhhh… so THIS is why Italians slag off pizza in other countries”
“Gutted we can’t get this by ours.”
Upon their return, haunted by the prospect of not being able to get that pizza this side of a two-hour flight, they chipped in and bought a little wood-fired oven called “Ozvaldo”…
Dreaming of one day opening their own restaurant, but being skint, they set about doing small events. Their first event was the Cairns Street Market.
After that first market, they grew to be able to take on larger and larger events, improving in speed and skill along the way. People were happy with the pizzas, but privately they knew that they weren’t coming close to what had inspired them.
The question “How did they do pizza like that?” drove them on. The next few years would become an adventure. Reading, studying, reflecting, beating themselves up, travelling back and forth to Napoli (Naples) and talking with other chefs, swapping tips and knowledge.
Eventually, they became confident that their pizzas now rivalled some of the best they had eaten in Naples. After travelling to events and festivals up and down the U.K including LIMF, Africa OYE and Liverpool Food and Drink Festivals, they had the savings to be able to leave their 9-5 jobs and take the risk of opening their own place.
178 Smithdown Road was the lot they settled on. The got the keys in February 2017 and raised the shutters on an absolute bomb site.
They designed the interior themselves and set about building it with the help and guidance of a friend (who actually knew what he was doing).
Halfway through the renovations, they got a call from three other lads with their own story to tell: Ollie and Day (a couple of local internet food bloggers “Independent Liverpool”) and Tim (an old acquaintance from the festival circuit who had this ridiculous pipe dream of opening Liverpool’s first food market in a warehouse halfway between Toxteth and town).
Thinking that it sounded like a terrible idea, doomed to failure, Peter and Ryan agreed to set up a permanent stall in the corner.
The Baltic market opened in July 2017 and has been a roaring success.
178 Smithdown was completed and opened the following February and its popularity has grown week by week ever since.
Little Furnace has since been featured numerous times in the Liverpool Echo, the Guardian, and even the BBC Good Food Guide.
We hope to see you soon!
Big luv, Little Furnace xxxxx