As 1980s popstar and former American Idol judge Paula Abdul once sang, in love, “opposites attract”. But for one young couple, the same has proven true in business; a restaurant/retail hybrid born of the merging of two careers at opposite ends of the spectrum.
1n1 Fashion n Pizza is a casual pizza eatery and independent fashion boutique squirrelled away at the Aldgate end of Middlesex Street.
Ground level has a small kitchen pumping out authentic gourmet pizzas for occupants of the small dining area or those browsing the collection of clothes and accessories, mostly from Italian designers with a few local up-and-comers thrown in for good measure.
Chef Andrea Danelli and fashion designer Martina Vitali are the reason you’re reading those two retail offerings in the same sentence, bringing their two passions under one roof for a unique concept store in the interest of (what else?) love.
When the couple arrived in London from their native Bergamo in Italy in 2014, they found that the long hours spent climbing the Capital’s cutthroat career ladder left little time for each other.
“I think most couples would agree that when you’re working in a city like London you don’t get a lot of time to spend together,” Martina explains. “We always wanted to open a business together but neither one of us wanted to give up our passions, so we decided to just put them together as a bit of a crazy combination to see if it would work.”
The couple trialled a three-month pop-up in Old Street in 2015 and say they were surprised by how well the combination went down with shoppers. “People might come in for a dress and then they’ll sit down and start chatting with us and order a slice of pizza – or a group will stop by for lunch and end up walking away with a new pair of earrings,” Martina says.
They decided to build the business into something more permanent and returned to Italy to hone their respective crafts – Martina by scouting markets and showrooms in Milan for designs not readily available in the London market, and Andreas by heading back into the kitchen to develop a unique pizza crust.
“I’ve always been interested in the bakery side of cooking – the flours, the different temperatures – so I decided to experiment with the sourdough crust by adding stone ground flours to make it lighter,” he explains.
His is a menu of classics – margherita, capricciosa, etc – and more creative specials such as vegetarian with beetroot cream and buffalo mozzarella, and rocket pesto with fior di latte mozzarella, pine nuts and sundried tomato, with all ingredients sourced from Italy.
Hers is a collection of statement dresses, tops and skirts in textured fabrics and bright prints and metallics that can be mixed with High Street casual basics or dressed up with 1n1’s collection of vintage accessories and eyewear.
The result is a success in 1n1, which happens to be the couple’s lucky number, and Martina’s lucky day – she just earned her stripes as a business consultant.
1n1 Fashion n Pizza, 56 Middlesex Street E1 7EZ