A taste of Teesside is coming to Swindon in August with the launch of Pizza&Co.
The Newport Street pizza parlour will specialise in American-style pizzas, loaded pasta, loaded fries and one very special regional delicacy – the Chicken Parmo.
Owner James Lavery has been working in the pizza business since leaving school.
The pizza parlour will officially open on Wednesday, 3 August, and while Pizza&Co will serve Sicilian base pizzas and a range of fresh desserts and pasta dishes, James says its menu has two unique selling points that set it apart.
First, it specialises in deep-pan pizzas. Second, it will offer a taste of Teesside in the form of Chicken Parmo – a dish which originated in James’ hometown.
He said: “I am from Middlesbrough, a small town in the north east of England, which isn’t really famous for much. It has the transporter bridge and a half-decent football team but it is most well known for the Chicken Parmo!”
The dish consists of breaded chicken breast, which is deep-fried and then topped with bechamel sauce and cheese. Various toppings can then be added.
“It’s the most popular dish in Teesside and is served in every pub, restaurant, café and takeaway in Middlesbrough," said James. "Until recently, it has been predominantly found only in the northeast, but it has started to appear on menus across the UK.
"The dish has even found its way to Westminster after a local MP wrote to the chefs in the House of Commons and asked them to put it on the menu.”
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen has taken his love for the dish further and recently launched a campaign to secure Protected Designation of Origin Status.
“It is part of our history and culture we should be proud of it,” he has said.
James’ links to Swindon began when his brother was posted to an Army barracks in Wiltshire. His regular visits instilled a love of the town, its nightlife and restaurants. There was just one thing missing, Chicken Parmo.
James said: “I am very proud of it, so when I was offered the premises in Swindon’s Old Town I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity to introduce the pride of Teesside to the people of Swindon.”
On opening day, 3 August, the team will be giving away free pizza slices. Once open it will serve customers from noon to 9.30pm, six days a week.
James said: “We’ll share weekly giveaways on our Pizza&Co Facebook page. The first week’s offer, from 8 August, includes one family table for six to eight people and two tables for two to three people. Simply like and share the Facebook page for a chance to win - https://www.facebook.com/pizzacoswindon."