- Price for 2: £37.65 (2 courses)
- Opening Hours: W/Th: 930-2030, F/S: 930-2130, Sun: 1030-2030, closed M/T (for updated hours, check here)
- Parking: ample parking in front of the building.
- Location: 20-22 Buncrana Road, Derry/Londonderry, BT48 8AB
- Patrick visited May 2022
Right before starting the filming for a new season on Planet Patrick called the “Wild Atlantic Way”, I stopped off in Derry to meet up with old friend and Riverdance Dancer, Joanne Evans. She suggested a lunch at a favourite local eatery, called ‘Scarpello and Co’.
I’m sorry to say that I don’t know Derry much at all (of course, apart from Derry Girls) and, other than the odd childhood memory of visiting a hospital there, wasn’t sure what to expect.
Joanne was very certain that I’d love Scarpello and knew that there was lots of parking for this rather nervous new campervan/RV owner!
The atmosphere inside is welcoming and relaxed. Although the entrance is beside the forecourt to a garage, the interior has been carefully considered, from the dark green paint choices, to the decision to leave the entire space open, so that chefs, co-workers and produce is all on show. That takes considerable self-confidence in your product. Staff are dressed in bright red tee-shirts and everyone we spoke to had that uniquely Derry charm that makes you feel like you are visiting with friends. The level of informality felt right for the space.
The menu focuses on all things sourdough with an Italian twist. The stars of the show are really the pizza choices and my attention was drawn to Number 6, which featured mushrooms, pancetta and slow-cooked leeks – one of my favourite tastes in the world.
Joanne chose a Marguerita pizza and added shavings of fresh parmigiano reggiano and fresh prosciutto with rocket. To round out an already ambitious order, we went with garlic toast and padrón peppers.
These appetisers came first. The peppers were heavily doused in salt (perhaps 10% too much) but had been expertly handled so they were just the right temperature. The sourdough in the garlic toast was crunchy perfection, soused with garlic butter and herbs. I could have taken even more garlic flavour, but my palette is almost French in that regard!
Before long, the pizzas arrived, filling their oversized plates with bubbling goodness. The Neapolitan and Sourdough Pizza families are not closely related. Good examples of the former have cracker-thin dough lightly strewn with ingredients; the latter rests or dies on the quality of the sourdough. This was charred, chewy and topped with unctuous toppings, the salty and yeasty dough risen to perfection. The leeks and cheese had intermingled in a yielding mess so rich that the accompanying aioli dressing was not needed. The portion is big (I’m not complaining) and I went back to my campervan with a box filled with pizza crusts to dip in aioli for my evening snack. I can tell you those crusts made a generous supper too.
Joanne made a great fist of her giant Marguerita pizza, but admitted defeat at a little over half-way. No doubt the remainder found a welcoming home that night too!
As someone who grew up in the North of Ireland, I loved the food I had when eating out as a child and young adult, but I don’t think I can claim there were many gourmet experiences. I am happy to say there is a burgeoning food scene in the North and not just in the Cathedral Quarter of Belfast. Scarpello & Co shows that there is the creative skillset, positive service attitude and endurance to make a success of a food business when so many have been forced out of business by the pandemic. It’s rare that I’m so fulsome in my food reports, but if it is deserved, a restaurant should be celebrated. Bravo to the Scarpello team.