Euro Pizza about loud music and complex dishes: 'Pizza is secondary'
At Best Kept Secret 2022, various chefs are inspired by an act of their choice to create the tastiest and most surprising dishes for BKS visitors. Festival director Maurits Westerik talks to Rein Op 't Root and Nick Heijnis, owners of Euro Pizza, about loud music, cult football players and complex dishes: 'I sometimes regret our name.'
Who or what inspired you to start Euro Pizza?
Rein: We actually had another establishment, Restaurant Europa in the cultural center Het HEM in Zaandam. That was a slightly more expensive restaurant with more dishes, where we often cooked more outlandish things. From the first lockdown, it was no longer interesting for us to stay there, so we started making pizzas as a kind of spin-off. Hence the name Euro Pizza.
Nick: During the lockdown we saw that many fine dining restaurants created a takeout menu. We wanted that as well. But the thing was, our restaurant was located in Zaandam, whereas the bulk of our customers came from Amsterdam. We couldn’t exactly expect them to pick up food from us. So we had to come up with something that we could make in Zaandam, and that we could sell in Amsterdam. That’s when we came up with the idea of making frozen pizzas.
Rein: We sold the frozen pizzas in restaurants of friends, in the Lux for example. In this way, we continued to sell our frozen pizzas throughout Amsterdam. On a blue Monday someone said to us: of course you are definitely going to start a pizza restaurant, right?
Nick: The sale of the pizzas went so well that it would be a shame not to continue with the same line as Restaurant Europa, but with a slightly more accessible approach. That's how Euro Pizza was actually created, partly by someone else!
Rein: Sometimes I do regret the name, it's a really stupid name! Euro Pizza could have been the name of some kebab shop. At the same time, the name also provides a good cover for us, because we are a very atypical pizza restaurant. Only when the guests arrive at our house do they realize that there are many more tasty dishes on the menu. Despite the name, pizza is quite secondary in our restaurant.
What is your favorite Euro Pizza dish?
Rein: Toast with raw chopped gurnard! We bake our own bread at our restaurant and more often than not, you always have too much bread left. It's a shame to throw away, so you have to come up with a plan for the leftovers. Because we are not a meat restaurant, we have created a toast with fish. When people ask for a recipe, this is the one we often share, as it is a popular snack in our restaurant.
Who is the act that inspires you for the dishes at Best Kept Secret?
Rein: The act that;s listed right at the top of your program because it starts with a number, 4B2M. I used to be the driver of Go Back To The Zoo and I even played with them for a while, besides that we are also very good friends. 4B2M has a really weird, unique sound and I really like that!
When you think of 4B2M, what ingredients come to mind to make something letters with?
Rein: Jimmy can sing and drum really beautifully and spectacularly, Rocco is actually a very good soul singer, which I really didn't see coming. 4B2M is a very eclectic band and that just fits very well with our restaurant. Expect complex dishes with many different influences, which are very tasty in a strange way.
What does music mean to you?
Nick: Music plays a very big role at our restaurant. It's not that we are hugely inspired by the music, but we always put together a playlist very carefully. The music does leave a mark on the evening: it has to be fun, cozy and a bit chaotic at our house. As the evening progresses and the guests have finished eating, the music also gets turned up a little louder, creating a homely pub atmosphere to get back on track.
Rein: In our restaurant we don't play a fixed genre, as long as it's loud, it doesn't matter what you play. A while back I received a message from my old history teacher, in which he said: 'Hey Rein, we had a nice meal at Euro Pizza, but the music you played was very loud!' Then I thought to myself: that sounds like a normal evening, which is exactly the point!
Who would you like to cook for?
Nick: Maybe an Ajax football player, I always like football! Scattered throughout our restaurant we all have small paintings hanging around of past Ajax selections. I would like to cook for Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, because he really is a cult legend. Or a star player who has won the Champions League with Ajax, such as Patrick Kluivert.
Rein: Nicolás Tagliafico, I think he likes good food! That's a South American, so I can't get away with just a piece of fish and vegetables. I would have to put a large piece of tender meat on the table for him.
What is your best kept secret?
Nick: Rein and myself! Because we can actually cook very well, although the name of our restaurant might suggest otherwise. It's always nice when we can pleasantly surprise our guests as they end up completely blown away by our arts.
Text by: Tammara Kratzer
Translation: Jasper Willems