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Home deliveries offer hope during bumpy ride for restaurants

There’s never been more choice for hungry Londoners stuck at home, as chefs create robust new dishes that can handle the journey to your front door

12 November, 2020 — By Tom Moggach

Pizza from Napoli Gang. Photo: @lateef_photography

IT’S a nightmare for restaurants in this second lockdown – cancelling bookings, throwing away stock and sending staff back home.

But there’s a flicker of hope in this surge of home deliveries, as chefs learn how create robust new dishes that can handle the bumpy ride to your front door.

If you fancy Italian, try the Napoli Gang. This is an exciting new venture from Big Mama, a company that runs the usually-buzzing Gloria and Circolo Popolare restaurants in London, along with outposts in France and Spain. Their trademark is over-the-top, super-stylish food that’s fun to eat. Or what they describe as “sexy Italian vibes”, now offered in a clever new partnership with Uber Eats.

Their zingy lemon pie, for example, has a 10-inch tower of wobbly meringue perched on top. This travels in a specially designed dish that carefully cushions it, bringing a touch of restaurant glamour to your sofa or kitchen table.

All packaging is recyclable and brilliantly designed, from the graphics on the pizza boxes to the vintage butcher’s paper to wrap up slivers of prosciutto. Our burrata filled with pesto nestled in a carton that opens up like a flower bud unfurling in slow motion.

The pizzas are smothered in toppings, such as the imaginatively-named “ByeByeDonald.it” with smoked provola, grilled slices of suckling pig, potatoes, crème fraiche and fresh basil. The lasagna was near faultless – light and layered with a well-spiced pork ragu.

Napoli Gang sends one per cent of their profits direct to the delivery drivers and works with Street League, their charity partner.

Delivery is from kitchens in Shoreditch and Kentish Town. Check if they can reach you via their website (www.napoligang.co.uk).

Another new venture is Grateful Pies (www.gratefulpies.com/shop), whose nine-inch vegetarian sharing pies can be ordered for next-day delivery and make a fine centrepiece for a family meal.

These plant-based creations, which cost £14.95, use a light olive oil crust filled with green lentils spiked with Bramley apple, onion, celery, mushroom, potato and a secret blend of spices. We had ours with lime pickle and yoghurt mixed with finely chopped cucumber.

For a Caribbean meal, One Box (www.oneboxmeals.com) is another new start-up that sends you the ingredients and recipe cards you need to make a Caribbean meal from scratch. These include dishes such as ackee and saltfish, curry goat, jerk chicken and rice and peas.

They join other meal kit services such as Gousto (www.gousto.co.uk), Mindful Chef (www.mindfulchef.com), Pasta Evangelists (www.pastaevangelists.com) and newcomer Allplants (www.allplants.com), which sends you your choice of 22 vegan frozen meals.

There’s never been more choice for hungry Londoners stuck at home. The challenge now is to make these services as sustainable as possible, as each delivery comes with an environmental cost in terms of packaging and food miles.

For me, the best approach is to make them an occasional pleasure – nothing beats cooking from scratch.

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