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Pizza and beer at the village

A Ballance Street Village pizzeria has made the leap from a shipping container to a permanent home . . . and it's more than just the neighbourhood that has noticed.

Neighborhood Pizzeria owner Marcel Campbell says the move to the former Cafe Villaggio restaurant is a sign of the maturity of the business.

“We had reached peak pizza in there (the shipping container), and it had been five years. I felt it was like when you turn five, you go to school. So, this is like going to school for us.

“It's a great move but it's another step in growing up. I have also been wanting to do beer and pizza for about 15 years.”

Marcel used to wash dishes at Cafe Villaggio 15 years ago for his sister Amy and brother-in-law David.

“So, I have been in here quite a while and I was brought up in the village as well. I suppose it's all meant to be.

“I always felt this was the place to be. There wasn't a place to hang out (in the village) but this feels like a local — and beer gardens just scream out for beer and pizza and music, which we've been doing. We've had live music every Sunday.”

He aims to make the pizzeria and beer garden the best in New Zealand, and reckons it is already well on the way.

“I think this is one of the best places to eat and drink in New Zealand, if not the world.

“Gizzy really is one of the best places in the world, it's bloody good to be back.”

Marcel has lived in Tauranga for the past three years and Sydney before that.

He set up another Neigborhood Pizzeria in Tauranga, which is still going.

“We set it up in a container. It's all about trying to get a following and a customer base. Hopefully, one day we can do it over there with an outdoor area.”

Marcel said the move to the new premises at Ballance Street Village, just in time for Labour Weekend, had been well-received — with staff struggling to keep up with demand at times.

Moving to bigger premises meant investing more in the business but it also meant there was more room for customers . . . as well as some teething issues.

“We've had some power issues, we were blowing the fuse because these ovens take quite a bit of grunt — and it has been really busy, so supply and demand has been an issue.

“Unfortunately we are still known for the waits but we are trying to sort that out.”

Plans to import a $30,000 gas pizza oven from the US will hopefully solve that issue.

Marcel said it was also great to have Sunshine Brewing on board as a supplier.

“They were the only choice for me. The guy who's brewing there at the moment wants them to be the best brewery in New Zealand, and they're winning awards. So, hopefully we can win an award — the best pizza in Gisborne.”

All staff had made the move across Ormond Road to the restaurant.

“We are a family, we try to get the crew from school to the end of university.”

That was all part of the community feel of both the business and the village.

“We grew up here. The old man (Nigel) was in the pharmacy next door (to the original location), for 38 years he's been working hard for the village. He's one of the formative members of the village back in the day, so this is my chance to have a little slice of the village.”

NEW PREMISES: Marcel Campbell has moved the Neighborhood Pizzeria into the former Cafe Villaggio. Picture by Paul Rickard