Spotlight on: Paesani

While Sheffield’s famously hilly terrain can often be the source of severe thigh burn, it also affords anyone brave enough to tackle the yomp some pretty epic sunsets; From the beer garden at the Brothers Arms or Meersbrook Park, to the Cholera Monument or the amphitheatre behind the train station, there’s some solid sunsetting to be done round these parts, but my fave has always been Bolehills

And easily the best way to enhance a late summer evening at the top of Crookes is to combine the view with a takeaway pizza from hugely popular, authentic Italian restaurant, Paesani.

Found just down the road from the park, on Crookes high Street, Paesani opened in the former home of As Thyme Goes By café in summer 2021 and instantly became a huge hit with locals. Giacinto Di Mola, who co-owns the cosy, 20-seater restaurant, tells us that from day one they had people champing at the bit to grab a slice of their pizzas.

“People really love this place,” explains Giacinto, “Its success was fast. From the first day, we had queues around the side of the building. It was like, wow, This is exciting!

“Paesani is very authentic. We come from Puglia. We bring the love. We bring the atmosphere, and we bring people from all around the region to try the food.”

As testament to their fantastic rep, Paesani was ranked first on Trip Advisor for eight months, which no doubt contributed to their quick start. Part of the reason for that prestigious accolade is the high standard of food they serve, as well as the high quality of ingredients they use in its creation. Their simple menu features delicious starters like burrata and parmigiana di melanzane, evoking the tastes of their hometown, but the main event here is obviously the pizza.

Made in a Neapolitan style, the dough is lovingly created using their secret recipe, before being proved for 24-36 hours. The pizzas are then prepared to order, with the freshest ingredients, before being cooked in a wood-fired oven and served on ceramic plates all the way from Puglia.

Giacinto believes their decision to pick one thing and do it to the best of their ability is what’s stood them in good stead. A belief he shares with his friend and co-owner Vito Vernia, who you may recognise from popular city-centre Italian restaurant, Grazie. Long-time friends Giacinto and Vito have a huge amount of shared experience in hospitality, both at home in Puglia and in the UK, where they worked together at Picolinos before moving onto their own endeavours.

Utilising this wealth of experience, passion for food, and quality Italian cooking, they aimed to bring something special to Sheffield. “We love Sheffield.” says Giacinto, “Sheffield gave me my daughter, my first business, my house. I can’t complain. We wanted to build something great for the city.

“I especially love this place. Crookes is amazing. I love the community.”

Harnessing that community spirit, Paesani has also partnered with other businesses in the area. Their deal with Two Sheds micro pub, just down the road, allows you to order a Paesani pizza while you sit tight and enjoy a craft beer in the micro pub; while their work with St Timothy’s church sees them host and cater events for them free of charge. They are also taking on more and more outside catering events for weddings, businesses and corporate events.

The future already looks bright for Paesani, but not satisfied with that success, Vito and Giacinto have plans to open a new venture in Grazie’s former home on Leopold Street (Grazie recently moved to a new space just down the street). Plans for the new city-centre concept, called La Bottega, are still being finalised, but watch this space for further details in the coming weeks. It’s going to be exciting!


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