Cyprus Mail

Pizzas just like mama makes

By Bejay Browne

A pizzeria will reopen after its summer break in Limassol serving traditional Italian fare while raising funds for children and adults with special needs.
Pizzeria was initially opened in June by local resident Stefano Paci, who originates from central Italy. He is one of the directors of the Theotokos Workshop Project, part of the Theotokos Foundation, a non-profit organisation founded in 1969 to provide care and rehabilitation for disabled adults and children.
The jovial 57-year-old says the idea of starting up a pizzeria to help raise funds for the foundation came out of concerns for its financial future. The workshop project sees the 22 or so students, who are disabled, create all sorts of beautiful arts and crafts which are put on sale in a dedicated shop, the cash raised going back into the organisation.
“The Theotokos workshop sells all of the things which the children make. As there is no money for us from the government we manage to live and pay all or our expenses from the shop,” he said.
“Because of the crisis, I was afraid what would happen and so I started to think what else I could do. So we collected money – mostly from the British residents here – to help us set up the pizzeria.”
Costs are kept to a minimum as the pizzeria is staffed by two teams of volunteers, along with Paci.
“I am in charge so to speak, but I work with two different teams. Without them, all of this would not be possible. Every day the first team of volunteers come and helps me in the morning and in the afternoon I have two volunteers from the hotel school in Limassol.”
Paci says he doesn’t like to refer to the afternoon crew as people with special needs, instead saying they are just ‘special people.’
Located in a bustling part of Limassal, the Pizzaria hopes to help raise awareness of the part of the community that needs extra care and assistance. “People with disabilities are capable of working anywhere and everywhere making use of their abilities and skills,” Paci said.
The Italian pizza boss says the pizzas are “just like the ones all of our (Italian) grandmothers and mothers used to make”. Each pizza is roughly 29 inches in diameter – the same as in Italy – and includes the freshest ingredients atop a homemade dough base.
“We make the dough ourselves and pizzas range in price from €2 to €4.50. Everyone loves them.” And each pizza is named after someone who helped get the idea off the ground.
Although most pizzas are to take away, there are some tables and chairs available for customers. The new venture also takes special orders for parties and catering.
Volunteers Mike and Pam Mavrou help out at the Pizzeria at least twice a week and say although its hard work they have fun and the atmosphere is second to none.
“We wanted to do something to help and these children need us, it’s as simple as that. We’ve learnt how to make pizza and the teams of volunteers are great,” Mike said.
“Last week we had an order for 150 pizzas for an artist’s party which blew our minds, there was flour and dough everywhere but we managed to do it, and we had such fun at the same time,” he added.
Paci says his Italian pizza is ‘the best’ and is fresh and tasty because of its fast cooking time. It cooks for three minutes at a temperature of 380 degrees – exactly the same as in a wood-fired oven – which allows the ingredients to maintain their freshness and flavour.
Paci pointed out that the new venture also aims to help disabled people integrate into society. He says that working at the Pizzeria helps individuals develop a sense of accomplishment, well being and usefulness.

13B Thessalonikis Limassol. Open: Monday-Friday 11am-3pm and 6pm-9pm. Reopening on September 2.

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