A Melbourne couple is wooing customers of its new mobile pizza catering business with a unique and original ingredient – a film star.
The denizen of the big screen isn’t a dashing hero in this case, but a tiny, totally Italian little catering vehicle – The Piaggio Ape (Bee) scooter-based vehicle used in Italy for everything from tiny truck to autorickshaw.
The little Ape was first seen on Australian roads in the 40s and 50s, though it buzzes on in Italy (there is an electric version too) and has appeared in dozens of films, ranging from Return of the Pink Panther to the more recent 500 Days of Summer.
While bringing a rare and colourful sight to the streets of Melbourne and Victoria with its devoted owners – Signorina Pizza partners Gianna De Luise and Vincenzo Lobosco as they serve corporate and private events – the Ape is especially loved in Italy where its compact size allows it to negotiate narrow streets, park easily, and serve as an impromptu market stall.
Gianna and Vincenzo love the vehicle’s authentic Italian ambience, to complement their pizza
“Vincenzo’s grandfather (Nonno) actually owned a Piaggio Ape when Vincenso was a child and he zoomed around in it quite frequently. He loves the idea of using the vehicle to bring something everyone can love and enjoy – pizza. We also wanted to give our two sons similar experiences, even if we are so far from small town Italy,” says Gianna, who spent the first 20 years of her life living and breathing pizza at her parents’ restaurant, Café Romantica in East Brunswick. “I started pouring drinks at six years old and by the time we sold, I was responsible for service, staff, stock and more.”
The Ape fit-out was a labour of love after a corporate career and ten years of travel sampling the culinary delights of countries across the globe. Signorino Pizza’s Ape is fitted out with all the mod cons attracting adoring fans not only to its true Italian heritage, but also to real Aussie Italian pizza served with fresh local ingredients and loving care for authenticity and Italian heritage.
“We wanted Signorino Pizza to be about amazing quality food, uniqueness, authenticity, and of course Italian passion and flair for life, la bella vita (the good life). We want to bring amazing memories and experiences to people’s events, including private parties, birthdays, corporate events, occasional markets and wineries,” said Gianna.
Weight and size are important in such a tiny vehicle, so Signorino Pizza chose a compact Aus J Hot Water Solutions Aqueous 10-litre 240V water heater.
As part of ensuring scrupulous hygiene catering in such as small space, the Ape is equipped with an Australian-engineered compact and light Aqueous 10-litre 240V hot water heater from Aus J Hot Water Solutions.
The Aqueous is something of a celebrity itself, being part of a range that has achieved more than 30,000 hot water heaters globally, with sales really taking off as more people take adventure holidays at home during Covid and as businesses like Signorino launch to serve a pent-up demand. The Aqueous 6-litre and 10-litre models, available in 12V or 240V types, are complemented by the dual 12V/240V Duoetto 10-litre, which is also achieving strong local sales and exports to OEMs and personal fit-outs of projects in the catering and recreational vehicle and boating markets.
“The reason behind choosing the Aqueous water heater was actually similar to the reason why we choose all our installed items in this wonderful vehicle build by Antz Engineering working with Project Manager Max Violani. “We wanted something really reliable, that heated quickly (there’s not always a lot of time when you get on site) and was able to fit in our very compact pizza truck,” said Gianna.
The extensive and beautifully organised fold-out catering facilities of the diminutive Ape almost totally obscure the vehicle as it is readied for action (above)…. creating a labour of love (below).
We read lots of reviews and checked out what the market was using and appeared to be either the Duoetto or Aqueous. The capacity of the model we selected is perfect and it wasn’t overly heavy, which is a big deal to us when every kilogram has to be considered in such a small vehicle.”
“We also opted to buy it from Aus J because they are clearly market leaders and we trust their products and services. Plus, having it delivered so quickly made a huge difference to us.”
The delightful dishes, and their creators
The Duoetto and Aqueous MK2 water heaters come with internationally recognised Australian WaterMark accreditation, which means that it passed tests and requirements regarding its suitability for supplying water for human consumption. These tests encompass taste, smell, toxins and corrosive effects on plumbing and pipework.
Features of the Aqueous Mk 2 product include:
- Durable outer case with service and inspection points
- SPCC (high commercial quality) steel and enamel tanks
- Single weld line for extended life. Single line welding offers optimum protection for pressure vessels
- Inlet/outlet tubes welding inside and out for durability, as well as both being enameled
- Polyurethane insulation for high-efficiency heat retention
- Thermal cutout and run-dry protection for safety
- Combination pressure relief valve and non-return valve
- Incoloy 840 heating element for rapid heating and energy efficiency
- Floor or wall-mounted operation
- Suitable for under-sink use, as well as caravan, recreational and work vehicles.