Last year, Claudia Lau’s Bedfordview-based restaurant Osteria Rossa was voted by consumers as one of the top 10 eateries in the country for the best pizzas, in the inaugural Porcupine Ridge Pizzeria Challenge. So it’s no surprise that Lau has entered this year’s competition again to try and claim pole position. But it’s not only the many other countrywide establishments that Lau will be up against; she’ll also be duelling it out with her sister Cristina De Almeida who is the owner of Piccola Rossa in Edenvale.

Says Lau about her win last year: “It was incredibly humbling and so special to receive this recognition as our customers were the ones that voted for us! They voted continuously and we were so moved by their support, all the hard work that the Rossa team does was acknowledged and appreciated by our amazing customers.” Osteria Rossa has been in operation since 2009, making authentic Italian food, using only the freshest ingredients. Lau takes much pride in their pizzas noting that the dough is made using only four ingredients, pizza flour, water, fresh yeast and salt, and they use a cold rise process whereby the dough matures over three days before being used.

Rossa also makes a unique, no-crust pizza and ingredients – from the mozzarella cheese to the homemade pancetta – are all sourced from local and international artisanal suppliers. “Pizza is a special kind of food that works for any occasion. When you eat it, it makes you all warm inside and it’s great to share with family or friends which is why our Rossa’s Grande Pizza is a firm favourite – a family size pizza that is 60cm x 40cm in size and customers can choose up to four different toppings on the pizza. So no family arguments if pineapple is chosen.”

Talking of which – are there any pizza toppings that are a no-no for her?

“While I don’t enjoy every topping on a pizza, I think that’s the best thing about a pizza, everyone can put whatever they want on one and love it,” she says diplomatically.

Having travelled a lot both locally and internationally, how does she rate South African pizzas?

“Having tried pizzas in Italy, New York and Chicago, there is something about special about South African pizzas, as they are made from so many different cultural and familial influences which makes us extremely spoiled for choice.” When it comes to choice, Lau’s preference is for a thin crust pizza, topped with Parma ham and anchovies or tuna and enjoyed with a good merlot or a chilled rosé if it’s a pizza with seafood toppings.

In the meantime, she’s rolling out the dough, firing up the pizza oven and getting ready to take on the other pizzerias around South Africa including that of her sibling down the road from her. “It’s all in the name of fun,” she says. “The Porcupine Pizzeria Challenge is a really enjoyable experience, and the engagement is unique, as customers are able to win monthly prizes and they call all excitedly to let you know they have won!

The Porcupine Ridge Pizzeria Challenge runs from July 1 through to September 30, 2022, with the Top 10 and winner being announced in mid-October. The challenge is open to any restaurant offering pizza on their menu and holding a valid liquor license.

Consumers dining at participating restaurants will notice point-of-sale containing a QR code that prompts them to the voting platform. For more information and to vote via the website, please visit:

Each week, a lucky voter will be drawn to win wine from Porcupine Ridge and an EarthFire Pizza Stone & Cutter. A grand prize winner drawn at the end of the challenge will receive wine from Porcupine Ridge, an EarthFire Pizza Oven as well as pizza to the value of R2,000 from their favourite pizzeria.

For more on Porcupine Ridge visit:

Osteria Rossa is located at Bedford Village,

Cnr Van Buuren/Nicol Roads, Bedfordview.

Tel: 011 455 5912