In the totally eco-friendly setting of the Bento food court, with Neapolis’s oven heat, the Jaszczuk family pizzeria is born
Paje beach is one of Zanzibar’s most picturesque beaches, characterised by impalpable white sand and sea in all shades of blue and turquoise. The landscape with the barrier reef background changes constantly with the alternation of high and low tides, making it the perfect place for unique walks or an ideal environment for kitesurfing. It is precisely kitesurf lovers that make up the majority of the tourists who come to Paje and that, especially in the evenings, crowd the premises of Bento Zanzibar, the island’s first food court, just a few metres from the beach.
Built entirely from containers, one for each different restaurant, Bento Zanzibar is sustainability-oriented, totally plastic free, using only sustainable or recycled packaging, and deeply committed to waste reduction. In this eco-friendly context, ‘Ciao Paje’, the first Neapolitan-inspired pizzeria in Zanzibar, owned by the Jaszczuk family, was born. We spoke to Katarzyna Jaszczuk, owner and manager, who arrived from Poland on the breath-taking archipelago in the Indian Ocean in 2021, about their pizza and how this adventure began:
“We love pizza so much in our family that we turned it into a business by opening a Neapolitan pizzeria. Although we had never run a restaurant before, we were well aware of what we wanted to achieve by making quality pizza in the first place. So, our journey began with Neapolis oven: we had nothing ready, we didn’t even know the exact location of the restaurant, but we started by buying the oven. Ordered in July 2021, after a series of ‘adventures’, and after being transported on four different ships through Oman, Malaysia and Kenya, we finally installed it in our Zanzibar location in December”.
Setting up the business in Paje, the island where, as they say in Swahili, people live pole pole (lit. ‘slowly’), was not easy for the Jaszczuk family, especially finding the raw ingredients needed for their pizza: “We faced huge obstacles with ingredients. We could not find any suitable flour in the whole Tanzania! Fortunately, we found a mill in Mainland that produces it especially for us, according to our specifications. Having found flour, it was the turn of dairy products, which are not very common in Zanzibar. We had difficulty finding fresh fior di latte mozzarella, mascarpone or ricotta cheese, an indispensable triptych for our production.”
Step by step, ‘Ciao Paje’’s team is organising to be more and more independent from suppliers, always keeping the highest quality for its customers: “we are working on opening a small cheese laboratory to produce cheese ourselves from fresh local milk. We have also planted some San Marzano tomatoes so that we can make our own tomato sauce for our pizza” which, according to online reviews, Paje’s tourists define as ‘excellent’, ‘incredible’, ‘delicious’, even describing it as ‘the best Neapolitan pizza ever eaten!’.
In the realisation of this interesting project, Neapolis heat was decisive, as Katarzyna reveals: “The electric oven was a natural choice: there is no gas distribution network on the island, and wood was excluded anyway also due to the risks with inexperienced staff, which of course consists of Zanzibarians whom we trained from scratch. There are very few electric ovens suitable for Pizza Napoletana and, of these, only Neapolis belongs to a well-known brand with a long and solid tradition. So, choosing Moretti Forni was the obvious option and we are super happy with it!”
In fact, all 8 pizzas on the menu are baked with Neapolis. Most of them are true to tradition and some monthly specials depending on the season and availability of ingredients. In addition, Ciao Paje makes ‘panuozzo’, an elongated bread with various uses.
We will certainly hear a lot more about the Jaszczuk family, also because, as Katarzyna confides, “we plan to open another restaurant in Zanzibar by the end of this year”.
Where: Bento Food Court, Zanzibar
Photo Credits Ciao Paje Pizza Napoletana e Michał Dzikowski