When Pilgrims become Pioneers. Hello Pionieri Pizzeria!

After a three week absence from the local Joburg market scene, the king of Neapolitan Pizza is back.


A “HEY PESTO!” in the making.

The same great pizza that frequent customers have come to know and crave has returned with a new look. The pop up pizzeria bears a new logo and more importantly a new name. Pilgrims Pizza has progressed to Pionieri Pizzeria – Pionieri being the Italian word for “Pioneers”

On asking owner Jeffrey Zaki why the change, his answer made immediate sense. He explained that: “After the runaway success of what began as an experiment to test my knowledge of the food and resturant industry that I have gained from my college studies

(He is currently studying a Food and Beverage Management course).


I felt that the brand needed to to be taken to the next level with a more mature and dynamic image in order to pave the way for something a lot bigger in the near future – hence the Pilgrim becoming the Pioneer.”

For those who don’t already know; Pionieri Pizza is authentic Neapolitan pizza with a base and crust made from slow fermented dough which is a close guarded secret by Jeffrey. He states that the dough is very “temperamental” and probably will check him into “Tara mental institution” immenently!IMG_4380


The result: a delicious base that holds a sauce that echoes nostalgia and an array of toppings that’ll even make the grumpiest smile. Trying to stay true to the Italian classics with a slight flair, the menu brags everything from your basic “Mrs Magarita”: mozzarella, tomato and basil to the more elaborate and best selling “Spaniard”: mozzarella, salami, mushroom and a spicy yet tangy Romesco sauce. (Romesco being a red pepper type ” Spanish pesto” that brings a gentle heat and a powerful punch of flavour to the pizza.



Non-meat eaters don’t despair the menu also boasts the infamous “Plain Jane”: a bianca pizza (no tomato base) topped with basil pesto, mushrooms, olives, feta and topped off with a homemade onion marmalade – a delicious “Salty Sweet” experience. All the pizzas are finished with a generous sprinkle of parmesan cheese, aromatic dried origanum and of course extra virgin olive oil.

During the three week rebranding period, Jeffrey travelled abroad to the Middle East. On asking what this trip has brought to the table he explains that: “Although the destinations were several Middle Eastern countries, the cruise was onboard an Italian cruise-liner. The onboard menu was mainly Italian, but the Middle Eastern influences were defiantly present; Think pizza with a tabouleh salad on the side!”


Will we see a follow through  of this on Pionieri Pizzeria specials menu?

Jeffrey comments:  “You will just have to wait and see. I don’t want to clutter my menu with so-called hybrid pizzas and run the risk of confusing my customer.” However he does promise a new special or two that will welcome the approaching winter season. Look out for the new  “Polpetta”: Juicy meatballs, mozzarella, roasted tomatoes and basil…

Need I say more?

Yes, I know what you are thinking.

I can brag on and on and on…

As Mr Jeffrey Teddy Zaki is my son, so obviously Im going to say that the pizza is great.

My Son is a self proclaimed “imposter Italian” he will tell you that he is “not-all-there”. He believes that his “madness” goes hand in hand with his passion and allows him to achieve greatness. I believe He has the style, attitude and tenacity to pull off anything he truly sets his heart and mind on.

In conclusion.

The proof is in the “pizza pie”.

My son has discovered a special market niche and continues to respect and nurture it. Jeffrey even boasts a regular Italian couple that will tell you that they haven’t had pizza this good since leaving Naples, Italy – The Home of Neapolitan Pizza.

My son is on a mission to become the best pizza in the land and I believe he can go toe-to-toe with the biggest hitters in the industry.

Don’t believe me?

Go and try it for yourself!

Pionieri Pizzeria trades every Saturday from 9AM to 3PM and from 5PM to 10PM on the first Thursday evenings of every month at the Neighbourgoods market, 75 Juta Street Bramfontein and at the Melville night market at 27 Boxes from 4PM – 10PM on the first and last Wedesday of every month. But it is highly recommended that you get there early, Pionieri sells out fast!


Ps. Italian wife wanted for my son.

He’s too deep undercover…

He’s turning into a Martin Scorsese movie character by the pizza and I can’t listen to dean martin- “Mambo Italiano” one more time!


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