Do you like pizza or do you loooooove it? Isn’t a good pizza something you could eat on a regular basis? It is a big yes from me.
Having said that, it may not be that easy to get a real good pizza. Unless you prepare it yourself or live in Italy or have an authentic Italian pizzeria in your neighbourhood. Hands up who has!
Surely, you know the pizza takeaways. They look the same from the outside all over the world, don’t they? And the pizzas usually taste not that special. But they make for an easy dinner now and then.
On Pico in the Azores, we felt like eating something different and chilling on our balcony enjoying the sea view after dining out several nights in a row.
In an earlier post, I already told you a bit about Pico’s capital Madalena. It is a little town where you can do everything on foot and can’t get lost. On our walk way home one night we stumbled over a pizza takeaway. It was closed, but we kept the availability of pizza in mind.
When it was time for such a pizza, I entered O Cantinha da Emília at around 6:30 pm on a Saturday and was served by a young woman. We tried to understand each other – she only spoke a little English and I hardly any Portuguese – and managed to do an order. You choose a pizza from the menu they have by looking at the pics on the wall and add whatever ingredient you can’t do without. Then you order the size by how many pieces you want: from four to twelve slices in round ones and 16 to 24 squares in square pizzas (given you are having a big party or hunger like a bear :0)).
Then she told me that my pizza would be ready at nine, right when they close shop for the day, and I could pick it up then. What? At nine? That was two and half hours from when I made the order. Hmmm… I placed the order all the same and brought the news home. Hubby was not content and could also not believe it took that long.
Well, it was a weekend day and the place was obviously very sought after by the locals. We practiced patience…
Come nine and I was back at Emília’s with a hungry tammy. The little takeaway was filled with the very pleasant mixture of smells from pizza crust, peppers, onions, tomato, garlic, and the like. An elderly lady now told me in perfect English that my pizza would be ready in a sec.
I grabbed the chance to learn more about this place where you may wait for your piece of pizza for several hours in a time when almost everything is available if not within seconds then at least within minutes.
Emília is a lady from Pico who emigrated to Canada with her family when she was a child. She returned to her homeland because of tragedy as I learnt. One of her sons died way too young and rests in peace on this island now. That means she won’t leave that place and stays here with another son, who is 17 years old. The third son is still in Canada.
More than ten years ago, she followed her passion by opening O Cantinha da Emília, which is Portuguese for “the retreat of Emília”.
It literally is a retreat. The bighearted woman makes you feel warmly welcomed and at home in an instant. We chatted as if we knew each other since forever.
What’s more, her love goes into every pizza. Emília freshly produces the dough herself on a daily basis! The tomato sauce of course is homemade in Emília’s kitchen. The ingredients are fresh and prepared by hand. Emília makes every, like EVERY, pizza herself. That is why she was very busy behind an elevated counter producing pizzas when I popped in the first time.
Honestly, given the fact that the young woman hardly spoke English, I thought the older lady behind the counter fore sure would not either. This must be a place where mainly locals come in, I talked to myself, and was glad to have made it in here as well.
The joy to be in a conversation with and learning from beautiful Emília at nine in the evening made my day. We share the passion for fresh and handmade meals. We both relish a good piece of pizza. We share an instant connection.
Let me tell you that Emília’s pizza – a takeaway pizza to be precise – was one of the best pizzas I have ever had. Far away from Italy, but as in Italy prepared with love, passion, handmade and fresh ingredients.
All you need, basically, but quite hard to get these days in a western world where it seems that everybody is always in a hurry and convenience comes so handy for many.
How grateful I am for human beings like Emília. She takes as many orders as she and her helping hand can manage. One pizza at a time and still quite many per hour. Four hands, several baking trays, some ovens, one takeaway. And you wait for your turn depending on the amount of orders ahead of you. Be it two hours.
The wait is more than worth it. You not only take away one of the best pizzas in the world (believe me ;-)), but also a heart giddy with joy and full of gratitude.
Gratitude that you entered what looked like the usual pizza takeaway, that you discovered a place where almost only locals come in and out, that you had the patience to wait for your easy dinner, that you came back in the dark to pick up your pizza far beyond dinner time, gratitude that you were rewarded with a homemade pizza and a heartfelt conversation, that you enjoyed eight slices with your now happy hubby on the balcony while listening to the ocean waves (since it hat gotten dark by then…), that you were also able to share a wonderful story that happened in O Cantinho da Emília in Madalena on your blog.
Side note: Should you ever be on Pico, give Emília a call shortly after four when she opens her takeaway and order your pizza (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays). That way, you won’t have to wait at all and your pizza will simply be ready the moment you ordered it for. Call +351 914 377 271. You can also find O Cantinho da Emília on Facebook.
Muito obrigada, thank you so much, Emília!
Want to read more about the amazing place Emília calls home? Just click on the links below and follow me for further posts in the future:
In for some more heartwarming stories?
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Learn about the generosity of refugees