A taste of traditional Italy at Gastro Mania in Caerphilly

Gastro Mania, Caerphilly

Few people would be brave enough to open a new hotel business during a pandemic lockdown, but that’s exactly what Aldo Ruotolo did in October last year.

More than 12 months later, and Gastro Mania, on Cardiff Road, Caerphilly, is not just surviving but thriving, with its unique combination of coffee and traditional Italian stone-fired pizza.

Aldo, who is 28, has lived in Wales for nine years after moving to the country to help a friend with his business.

Aldo, chef at Gastro Mania

He explained: ‘I struggled to find a good stone-baked Italian pizza locally – having to travel was not an option. Being from Naples I decided to use my skills and open my own pizzeria/cafe and bring a slice of Italian heaven to Caerphilly and surrounding areas.

A pizza cooked in a traditional pizza oven

“Opening a new café was difficult during confinement. The positive feedback from people only convinced me that it was the right decision.

After looking for the right premises, Aldo found them in the former Thomas Cook store in July last year. Work has begun to renovate and equip the old travel agencies. An authentic stone oven was built in Naples and shipped to Wales, while Aldo completed a specialist pizzaiolo course.

Over the summer of 2020 things started to look more optimistic regarding Covid and the reopening of hospitality. However, there was a setback with Caerphilly entering its own local lockdown in September.

Undeterred, Aldo opened Oct. 29 with a pick-up-only service and received plenty of support from customers who flocked to try its Neapolitan pizza — which is freshly made on site and cooked to order. A delivery service quickly followed and has been running successfully since last December.

A freshly baked stone oven pizza at Gastro Mania

With the easing of restrictions over the course of this year, Gastro Mania now offers table service and a brunch menu between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Aldo said: “As we approach the end of this year, I look back on the changes this has brought. The business continues to grow from strength to strength with Peroni on tap now offered in addition to a new selection of desserts to accompany our fresh Italian coffee. We plan to host children’s parties as well as start our own pizza master classes.” I hope to be able to see more of my existing customers, welcome new ones, and thank them for their support over the past year.”

There is a selection of desserts available

Gastro Mania is at 51 Cardiff Road, Caerphilly, CF83 1FP and can be contacted on 02920885111.

Visit their website at www.gastromaniacafe.co.uk for their latest menus. They are open Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. but closed on Sunday.

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