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Ireland's pizza evolution: From wacky toppings to Europe's finest

As a Dublin restaurant is hailed for its wood-fired pies, Katy McGuinness looks at how we went from deep-dish monstrosities to Neapolitan-style excellence

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James Cirillo (left) with chefs Daniele Accardo and Michele Fontana

James Cirillo (left) with chefs Daniele Accardo and Michele Fontana

James’ father owned Nico’s

James’ father owned Nico’s

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James Cirillo (left) with chefs Daniele Accardo and Michele Fontana

If your first experience of pizza was the deep-dish version served by the Chicago Pizza Pie Factory on St Stephen's Green, or at a branch of Pizzaland (where it came with sides of baked potato and coleslaw) or from the DIY counter at Superquinn, where mandarin orange segments were just one of the toppings on offer, the news that Cirillo's on Dublin's Baggot Street has been named the 16th Best European Pizzeria may come as a surprise. (The Dough Bros in Galway came in at 21.)

Ireland at the forefront of pizza-making in Europe? Surely not.

Pizza is everywhere these days. You'll find it in chains and homegrown independents, as well as in pubs up and down the country, where €9 is the magic number. It's perfect food for a pandemic and has never been more popular - or ubiquitous. But until a few years ago, with some honourable exceptions - I'm thinking Gotham on South Anne Street and Independent Pizza in Drumcondra in particular - the standard of Irish pizza was nothing to get too excited about.


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