On the fourth floor in the space that was until recently home to a number of Selfridges-operated concessions and Masala Zone, Pizza Pilgrims will share the space with café group EL&N London and - from early next year - Taiwanese xiao long bao-specialist Din Tai Fung.
"The basis for the project is 'what would Pizza Pilgrims look like in 2030," Thom explains. "Selfridges are big on sustainability and wanted us to create something that was distinct from the rest of our restaurants. The new site will be sustainable in lots of different ways but the key thing is that we are seeking to reduce our carbon footprint wherever possible. Everything we learn from the project will be applied to the wider Pizza Pilgrims business over time."
Created in partnership with Selfridges, the new site will source the majority of its ingredients from these shores, drawing on a research project the London-centric Neapolitan pizza group completed ahead of Brexit that explored how the business could transition to using UK suppliers.
Where we can easily buy from the UK we will, but that won't always be possible as Pizza Pilgrims must rename an authentically Italian restaurant group. For example, we won't be sourcing Parmesan and tomatoes from the UK. But when we can’t we look at how else we can improve it. For example, we're currently working with our tomato supplier to lessen the environmental impact of importing them."
While tomatoes will continue to be shipped in from southern Italy, the fior di latte, cured meats and the flour will be sourced from the UK. The latter is made for Pizza Pilgrims by Andy Cato (of 90s dance act Groove Armada fame) using regeneratively-farmed wheat. The brothers will also be growing some of their own wheat on Selfridges rooftop.
The new site will also tap into some of Pizza Pilgrims existing sustainability initiatives, including the use of London-grown basil.
Around one third of the menu is exclusive to Selfridges, including a number of new vegan options as well as a selection of premium pizzas. The Selfridges selection is priced from £15 to £20 and includes wild mushroom and truffle, and wagyu salami and red pepper.
The drinks list will also have a strong sustainable angle with some wines sourced from England. “We have some sparkling wines that are produced locally, but you can’t have a fully-English wine list at a pizzeria just yet, at least not with a straight face,” Thom continues. “All the other wines have some sort of sustainability hook and there is a focus on bag-in-box. We will also have a craft beer bar serving four or five beers from Gipsy Hill Brewing Company (in south London) straight from the keg with no packaged products at all.”
The interior will be made from sustainable materials, including banquette covers made from pineapple skins.
The price point has increased to account for the higher input costs associated with using UK suppliers. There will also be a small donation added to each pizza that will go to an as-yet unnamed charity.
“A margherita pizza costs £8.50 at our other locations but will cost £9.90 at Selfridges (including the donation),” says Thom. “Some other items on the menu will cost more but only when we need to. If we’re selling the exact same thing the price will be the same.”
Founded in 2012, Pizza Pilgrims is back on the expansion trial with its core restaurant brand and New York pizza-inspired spin-off Slice, which launched during the pandemic.
Recent launches - including a sites in Waterloo and Queensway - have brought the group up to a total of 18 locations.
Managing director Gavin Smith says the brand had decided to delay some its more regional expansion ambitions until 2022, while it concentrates on continuing to grow its core London estate and Pizza in the Post nationwide meal-kit deliveries.