Serial entrepreneur Judd Campbell is at it again. Opening another restaurant. This time he’s back on familiar ground, Glenwood.
I’ve known Judd Campbell a long time. So when he tells me in his usual, intense way that his new Glenwood restaurant, A Pizza My Heart, is going to serve pizzas like no other, I have a sense of déjà vu. I’ve heard it all before. But wait, this is Judd we’re talking about: Master charmer, irrepressible optimist, and a weaver of dreams and before long I can see his vision and I’m won over.
Maybe this will be the next Corner Cafe. Whatever, I’m confident it will be something different.
So what are the facts? A Pizza My Heart is going to be a pizza restaurant (I know, I know, but keep the faith), which will focus on families. So there will be two dining spaces, one for grownups and one for kids – not cast in iron, though, if (foolish) you want to dine with your kids. There will also be an outdoor play area set up like an obstacle course, and a private room for kids’s parties. There will also be Sweet Dreams, a waffle counter operated by an outside trader, a retail outlet selling cake and bakingware, and a barber shop.
The restaurant’s look is going to be rustic, casual, playful. Ewok (“Spoken Word flavored Hip Hop activism, with additional emphasis on aerosol art”…… to quote Ewok himself) is painting murals and graphics and cartoons. Whatever he wants, basically. He has carte blanche. He’s already completed the outside artwork of jigsaw puzzle pieces.
We’re standing in the adult’s dining room when Judd shows me an App on his phone and I gather he’s going to use it to play retro/classical Italian (and other) background music. He loves this App and enthusiastically demonstrates how he can tune into music from any era from any part of the world. This is so Judd.
So to the pizzas. Okay, so pizzas are not new to Judd – after all the Coffee Tree has a weekly pizza night. But now these are going to made all from scratch, using stoneground flour sourced from a local mill, with cheese from a local supplier, for instance. “It must be as green as possible”.
No carbon footprint I assume. This also means utilising the wood-fired pizza oven, which you know and love from Coffee Tree, which can fire five pizzas at a time. But there is also another oven should demand overwhelm.
But his dilemma is about what kind of base to use. To answer this question he spent several weekends in Joburg and Cape Town visiting pizza restaurants. “I visited 30 in Joburg, 17 let me into their kitchens to see how their bases were made” he says.
He wasn’t quite able to charm Cape Town’s pizza owners in the same way but he’s still working on them.
Then he bearded Adam Robinson of the Glenwood bakery in his own kitchen, where Adam generously demonstrated how they do it. Mix everything, let it rise, fold it up, let it rise and then repeat the process. Letting it rise three times is the general rule, says Judd, adding, so says Adam, so it’s gospel.
Judd has pretty much decided on what kind base he wants: “One that is thin in the centre, but puffs up on the edges, but is still a bit chewy. It’s difficult to do by machine”, he explains. “It has to be handrolled if you want a puffy crust. I want it artisanal-looking, like it’s (hand)crafted”, he adds.
“There will be no other pizzas like this”, he promises. “They won’t’ cost the earth, either, pizzas shouldn’t cost the earth.”
There will be seven topping options each week and each week the two least popular will be replaced by two others. And because this is Judd, each pizza will tell a story and share his food journey and that of the people who were or are still part of it. There is a vegan version, named after his sister, and another inspired by Lola, the first person he ever served (red onion, black olives, rocket and avocado).
He’s going to include some of the toppings popular with his Coffee Tree clientele. Deconstructed chicken sausages simmered with white wine and cream and thyme is one. Then there is a garlic focaccia with artichokes, avocado and capers. No tomato, no cheese. And the popular “031”
“This Beef Masala recipe comes from an old Indian lady friend of mine who’s number I’ll never divulge…save for the first three digits, 031.”
Adults and kids will generally be offered the same toppings, but the kids will be offered more leeway. Judd also wants to serve them pizzas in the shape of boats to make it more fun.
Also it’s BYO – and no corkage charge. He plans for it to open from 1pm to 8pm six days a week. Sundays he rests. He wants it to suit families.
Now you are probably asking about opening. Well, he’d hoped it would be Valentine’s Day, but looking around the premises as I did this week, that clearly isn’t going to happen. The floors still have to be sanded, the walls painted, the interior artwork completed, the outside play area is still a work in progress, the table and chairs (from Corner Cafe days) need to be sanded/fixed/painted or whatever, and there’s a herb garden to be set up in the front. So, realistically it will probably open at the end of February.
Oh and you will have to be buzzed in and out to ensure the space is totally safe for kids.
Finally, you don’t have to have a kid in tow to eat at Pizza My Heart, obviously. You could just be someone who just loves pizzas. Or a kid at heart.
A Pizza My Heart is in Bulwer Road, Glenwood, in the original location of EarthMother Organic (which is now closer to Woolies).