I’m not sure if there is any truth in the urban legend that if you eat cheese too late at night you will have crazy dreams but if there is, after our trip to IPIZZA in Botafoch tonight, I can’t wait to get to sleep! We have eaten pizza throughout Ibiza over the past two years and have encountered some amazing flavours, from Benirras to San Antonio, but in IPIZZA, the brand new slice of Italy in the corner of Botafoch, we may have found the finest on the island. When we say slice of Italy, we mean it in every sense of the word, from the flag colours of the catchy name, to the flowers on the table, to the ingredients in the food, to the retro ice cream machine and even the cheeky slogan on the back of the staff t-shirts, “Italians Do It Better”! It’s hard to argue after tonight’s meal.
Essential first encountered Marco Simonella when he worked in Amante in Cala Llonga before he move to El Brasero in Ibiza Town and the one thing that was obvious from the get go is that when it comes to customer service and putting together a menu, he is one of the finest operators on the island. Now, with his own Italian dining concept just along from Pacha in THE place to be, Marina Botafoch, things are taking off very nicely. IPIZZA is authentic Italian food served in a classic Italian deli with a hint of American diner about it. Starting from scratch with a boring brick unit, they changed everything, from the custom made floor and matching bar to the big kitchen, bright red diner style stools and designer toilets, producing an understated but stunning place to sit and have coffee, order dinner or grab a slice to go. The staff is friendly and very cool, from big designer glasses to infectious smiles they wouldn’t look out of place in DC10 or front and centre at Vagabundos but their attention to detail makes your short visit all the more enjoyable.
After we catch up with Marco and get the tour, including the kitchen, where chef Manuel throws the dough high in the air, we grab a seat in the terrace at the front of the restaurant. While we deliberate over our choice of pizza, Marco brings out, in his own words “something special to nibble on”. Talk about the understatement of the year! Marco informs us that we are eating Bocconcini Di Mozzarella Di Bufala with Parma Ham served with Schiacciata Toscana, which is fresh, oven baked crispy bread, suffice to say it looks and tastes amazing. The bread melts in the mouth and the rest of the flavours compliment each other perfectly.
Pizzas ordered, I opt for El Coto, that’s parma ham and cheese to you and I while Nic goes for a mushroom and cheese combo. While we wait for the magic to happen in the kitchen the tables around us fill up quickly with a real mixture of people, from families to sun worshippers on the way home from the beach to cool club kids in full sleeve tattoos, it’s clear that everyone loves pizza! There is also a steady stream of people popping into the restaurant to pick up a carry out slice, the concept has clearly caught on in Botafoch. For those that can’t make it down to the venue there are two bikes and a car servicing the Botafoch area with deliveries. Since its launch IPIZZA has attracted more than its fair share of celebrity customer too, many of the VIP drivers on the island are regulars and have started bringing I their clients. Sports stars from the world of football and motor sport and many of the island’s DJ’s, most notably Italian Marco Carola, are also fans of the restaurant and we can understand why. From the minute we set foot in the place we feel like part of the family as if we had been coming here for years!
The pizzas are not long in arriving and they look delicious, you know that way you just know by looking at a pizza if it is the real deal. The edges are slightly darker and the topping is bubbling, without further ado we tuck in and they taste every bit as good as they look. The base has been cooked to perfection and the pizza melts in the mouth. The choice of pizza on the menu is huge, whatever your preferred pizza, you will have no trouble finding it on here and knowing Marco, if you have a strange request, I’m sure he would do everything to accommodate your taste buds. Short work is made of our order and plates are duly cleared.
Having showed us the retro ice cream machine during our tour, Marco insists that we have some to refresh our palettes and we are soon tucking into three scoops consisting of coconut, hazelnut and dark chocolate. Coming from the north of Italy, Marco knows a thing about ice cream and when he says these are the ultimate flavours, it’s hard to argue. With virtually no room left in our stomach, we enjoy a coffee and lemoncello with Marco as he tells us the idea behind the IPIZZA concept;
“I wanted to imagine myself in business all year round, being originally at Amante and then El Brasero, they were both seasonal businesses and while it is nice having six months holidays it can be pretty costly as well. I wanted the opportunity to express myself over a full year. Botafoch at the moment is the area that is coming up and is going to explode in the next couple of years and there is existing business all year round. I had a look at what was missing in Botafch and looked for an Italian pizzeria and past place and there were none. We looked for location and this one was available, the location is perfect, we’ve got Pacha next door, open all year, the hospital right in front of us, the casino and all the big hotels.
I was actually out riding on my bicycle and the idea came into my head for ‘IPIZZA’, and this is what we have developed, a salad, pizza, pasta and dessert place where you can eat in or take away’ We also have two bikes and one car and we are planning at the moment to serve the Botafoch area, the boats, Talamanca and Can Pep Simone with deliveries. Traditional Italian food, with Italian ingredients, we spent some time back in Italy researching ingredients like the flour, the tomato sauce, the beautiful buffalo mozzarella and the boratta so everything comes form Italy and you can just taste the difference. We’ve had a great response fro all types of diners about the concept, from high end, Ibicencan, tourist, you and old so I am really happy.”