www.zoomata.com staff What could possibly ruin the love affair between Italians and pizza?
The faltering Italian economy — more or less stagnant since 2002 — and relentless price hikes with the arrival of the euro have made many in the Bel Paese forgo eating out.
And because even the most gifted mamma is unlikely to have the wood-burning oven necessary to make a proper pizza, it is the one dish Italians gladly eat outside the home.
Restaurant owners have struck up a “pizza pact” (patto della pizza) hoping to get cash-strapped Italians out and eating the national dish again, offering pizza and a beer or soft drink for 7 euro ($8.39).
The pizza crisis and the idea of a pact was first discussed on popular talk show Porta a Porta, a late-night program generally dedicated more to burning political issues than hot pies. Retailers’ body Confcommercio took up the idea and over 200 restaurants throughout Italy have signed the pact, valid to the end of 2005, so far.
It may be a case of too little, too late.
“Pizzeria owners are crazy if they think this will fill the restaurants after they’ve jacked up prices over the last few years, ” Rik Sentenza wrote in a letter to daily Metro. “Why don’t they give us coupons, like war-time rations for bread, since none of us can afford to eat out anymore? This isn’t going to solve the problem.”
Sentenza, like many readers who wrote into the paper, remembers a few years back when a pizza cost ?4.000 to? 6.000 lire or about 2-3 euro.
The profit on the average pizza is already 490%, reminds Vincenzo Donvito, president of consumer group ADUC, who called the initiative “obscene.”
Four out of the just seven pizzerias supporting the pizza pact in Milan called by zoomata did not know whether the offer was valid just one day a week or every day or on which day it was offered.
Roberto, owner of pizzeria Summer in Milan, who has not signed the pizza pact told us: “They didn’t publicize it very well, I first read about it from the newspaper.”
When asked whether he would be signing up any time soon he said, “We’re talking a 1.50 discount on our normal prices, I’ll throw in an espresso or grappa if people ask for the pizza pact. How’s that?”
A love letter to the true Italian pizza from chef Pamela Sheldon Johns
Official site for the pizza pact