Pizza Festival Zagreb: We check out what’s on offer
- by croatiaweek
- in Food & Wine
Zagreb, May 20, 2023 – The second edition of Pizza Festival Zagreb was officially opened on Josip Juraj Strossmayer Square on Thursday in the Croatian capital.
The grand opening was attended by Ilario Schettino, the head of the trade and economic department of the Italian embassy, Ana Pandža Kunčević, the head of the Department of Tourism at the City Office for Economy, Ecological Sustainability, and Strategic Planning from the Office of the Mayor of Zagreb, Dr. Miroslava Jaramaz from the City Institute for the Protection of Monuments and Nature, and Davor Guvo, representing the Zagreb Tourist Board. Natalija Belošević, the president of the Down Syndrome Association, also joined the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the opening.
The first two days have already attracted numerous Zagreb residents and visitors to the capital, and every day until May 28 from noon to midnight, J.J. Strossmayer Square will be filled with the tastes, smells, and sounds of Italy. The cheerful chefs and pizza masters offer their latest creations at ten booths: from classic Neapolitan and Sicilian pizzas to contemporary and sheet pan pizzas, fried pizzas, original homemade pasta, fragrant sourdough focaccia, luxury gelato, and irresistible brioches.
Below, we bring you the atmosphere from the first day and statements from the participants, which are also the best invitation to visit.
Especially excited about their first participation in the Pizza Festival is Mrs. Fogg’s pizzeria, which has prepared three types of sheet pan pizzas for this occasion: Margherita, their signature pizza Slanina – Friarelli, and Pepperoni, as well as a daily special. The uniqueness of their pizzas lies, among other things, in a five-day dough fermentation process, love, and enthusiasm. The young and cheerful team led by pizzaiolo Domagoj Kralj already gained numerous fans on the first day.
The Italian restaurant Al Dente presents a special type of pizza called Contemporaneu at the festival, which they describe as a modern Neapolitan pizza. Additionally, they delight visitors with a special treat – pizza fritta. Their booth not only impresses with the pizzas that received numerous compliments on the first day but also with its appearance, as it is decorated like a true Italian restaurant.
The booth of Pizza Social Club is particularly lively and aromatic. These pizza enthusiasts, led by Ivan Badžek, remain faithful to the classics with occasional surprises, and they reveal to us: “We stick to traditional recipes with our own twist. Our dough ferments for 72 hours, which is crucial for it to be baked at high temperatures and to achieve the desired taste and texture. Therefore, we decided on a crispy pizza with a fuller crust, combining elements of Neapolitan and Roman styles. We bake the pizzas in an original Neapolitan pizza oven, which operates according to special standards to maintain a temperature of over 450°C.”
Always cheerful and ready for action is the booth of Full Circle Pizza by Marko Palfi, who teamed up with his friend Danimir Potić from Zrenjanin, who lives and works in Maribor. “Danimir is a pizzaiolo who is very passionate about dough making and the entire process associated with it. We present several types of Neapolitan pizza. We make our dough according to Danimir’s recipe, using a yeast combination of 30% Lievito Madre and 70% Lievito Di Birra. The whole process of making the perfect dough takes up to 72 hours because it is essential to develop enzymes that participate in a chemical reaction, directly affecting the softness of the dough, under controlled conditions and temperature,” says Palfi.
Marin Medak and RougeMarin are participating with five types of Sicilian pizza that caused excitement at last year’s Pizza Festival Zagreb. “This pizza is unique due to its thick and soft dough, which is often thicker than other types of pizza. Additionally, a characteristic of Sicilian pizza is that the dough is prepared in a deep pan, making the pizza taller than traditional thin-crust pizzas. One of the most remarkable features of Sicilian pizza is its rich and diverse toppings. On Sicilian pizza, you can find everything from fresh vegetables and spices to various types of meat and cheeses. Often, Sicilian pizza uses pesto sauce instead of the regular tomato sauce used on classic pizzas,” say the representatives from RougeMarin.
Bite of Fun by Melkior Bašić captivates all visitors with six types of pizza and five types of pasta. The highlight that mesmerizes everyone is the Wheel of Cheese pasta – homemade, handcrafted pasta finished with a ring of Grana Padano cheese. “This dish will leave you breathless as it’s like diving into a pool of melted cheese,” says the young chef Maja Mandić.
Picnic Mingle and Fun, a popular team that won the hearts of many visitors at last year’s Pizza Festival in Zagreb, presents their new concept – Poma Food Boutique. Led by Vedran Božičev, these passionate culinary creatives tantalize taste buds with their new flavors of Sourdough Focaccia: Pistachio, Roastbeef, Truffle, and Caprese. “We work on innovations and constantly seek new ideas to provide our visitors with something completely fresh and different. In collaboration with Kroštula artisan bakery, we created Sourdough Focaccia, which delighted visitors all along the Adriatic coast. This year, we decided to introduce it to the people of Zagreb at the Pizza Festival as part of our new concept – Poma Food Boutique,” says Vedran, guaranteeing that all visitors to Poma Food Boutique will have the opportunity to experience true culinary delight.
Beg’s Plant Based, just like last year, is a small window into the vast plant-based world that surrounds us, impressing with original combinations such as Meet The Fig and Beg’s Salmon & Avocado pizza. Eduard Beg gladly dedicates attention to each visitor and explains everything they want to know about the ingredients of their plant-based pizzas. He also emphasizes that they have delicious bites for everyone, whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, or a passionate meat lover.
To complete the Festa Italiana, there are also Pizza Fritta – Ispirato al Napoli, which, in addition to being a special attraction with fried pizza, offers sweet brioches filled with vanilla, Nutella, strawberry…
For even more sweet delights, Luxury Gelato Pri suncu takes care of it with their artisanal premium ice creams, full of flavor and balanced texture. They already won over visitors on the first day with their perfectly smooth and creamy pistachio, almond with honey, Baileys, white chocolate with cinnamon and cocoa. In addition to fresh scooped ice cream, they also offer the first artisanal ice cream popsicles in Croatia.
The musical part of this year’s Pizza Festival Zagreb is under the creative direction of Ozren Kanceljak and already on the first day, it delighted and danced with a diverse repertoire of Italian hits from Dean Martin to Maneskin.
Yesterday, visitors got to enjoy the musical program TUTTI FRUTTI BY DJ Robert Mareković, Saturday, May 20th, was reserved for the live concert of The Griff ZUCCHERO Celebration Banda. These geniuses from Buje are led by Goran Griff Kauzlarić, a singer-songwriter, exceptional guitarist, and saxophonist who also incredibly resembles Zucchero and guarantees an unforgettable party.
After DJ Kance, who has prepared a program called Buona Sera for Thursday, May 25th, DJ Stanko Bondža will delight the visitors on Friday, May 26th, and Saturday, May 27th is reserved for DJ Filip Jelaš and the Jovannotti Beach Party. The festival concludes on Sunday, May 28th, with the program Festa Domenica.
To ensure that no one is thirsty, Gingle Bells takes care of that with their excellent signature cocktails this year, Šoškić Winery presents their new line of premium wines at the Pizza Festival, and cold Staropramen beers await you at the central bar.
A special highlight of this year’s Pizza Festival Zagreb is the pizza challenge for the Down Syndrome Association, which was opened by Domagoj Jakopović Ribafish with a sensational performance at the Pizza Social Club booth, where he created his own signature pizza called “Ljutko” (Spicy). He was assisted by members of the Down Syndrome Association, Leon Belošević and Sara Šečić, and they had so much fun that Ribafish will repeat his performance on Wednesday, May 24th, at 2 p.m.
If you’re curious about the pizzas that Renata Končić Minea will make on May 23rd at 2:30 p.m. and Sandi Pego on May 25th at 2 p.m., also with the participation of members from the Down Syndrome Association, be sure not to miss these challenge days. Moreover, all proceeds from the pizzas made by these stars are dedicated to the Down Syndrome Association Zagreb. Throughout the duration of the festival, the Zagi Kids Zone is also open, offering daily creative workshops for children, magic shows, trampolines, and bungee trampolines.
For creative entertainment for adults, Art Bottega – the first Wine & Paint studio in Croatia took care of it, bringing painting equipment, materials, and wine. “No painting experience is necessary at all. Our instructors will guide you step by step through this unforgettable experience. Upon arrival, we will offer you a glass of wine, and you are free to consume as much as you want throughout the evening,” they say, emphasizing that participants can have a great time and leave with their own masterpiece as a memento of this unique experience and fun. Their workshops are scheduled for 5 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, lasting two and a half hours.
Next week, we can expect the exclusive appearance of talented Matteo Cantona, a pizza master from Venice who recently achieved 5th place out of 700 competitors at the World Pizza Championship in Parma. On Tuesday, May 23rd, at 5:00 p.m., Matteo will share his knowledge, skills, and of course, bake the pizza that impressed the strict jury during a two-hour show with the visitors.
Join the unique Festa Italiana in the heart of Zagreb every day from 12:00 p.m. to midnight. Admission is free.
You can find out all the latest news on the Pizza Festival Zagreb’s social media channels.