Squares Pizzeria: Authentic Italian meets effortless elegance

Francesco Gentile

Squares Pizzeria's owner Francesco Gentile was taught to cook by his grandmother in Italy - Credit: Sally Patterson

Nestled in between Crouch End and Finsbury Park, Squares Pizzeria is serving up authentic Italian cuisine in the heart of north London.

Founded by Francesco Gentile, 31, just months before the pandemic took hold last March, the pizzeria has not had an easy start to its short life.

However, lockdown has done little to dampen the restaurant's welcoming atmosphere or the owner's infectious smile.

Francesco treated the Ham&High team to an array of classic Italian cooking, each dish more delicious than the last.

From polenta fries with garlic mayonnaise to crispy arancini served with homemade bolognese sauce or pesto; to Italian meatballs, squash and burrata pizzas; to a special tiramisu and delightfully boozy rum baba.

pizza

Pizzas are piled high with vegetables, cheese and meat - Credit: Sally Patterson

"It was my dream to open a restaurant, and I adapted the concept to the community here," the beaming chef said.

"I have always loved Crouch End, having moved here 10 years ago, and I wanted to do something for my community, which is why I opened here."

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Growing up in Puglia, south Italy, before moving to Milan as a child, Francesco was taught to cook by his maternal grandmother Giovanna, who showed him the art of making "proper" pizza, pasta and Italian meatballs.

Aged 14, Francesco began travelling around the country working for renowned chefs, including the "founder of modern Italian cuisine" Gualtiero Marchesi.

When he arrived in London, Francesco served under Michelin-star chef Tom Aikens before working at Harrod's restaurant.

From there, he became a private chef, dazzling millionaires and diplomats in Hampstead's "Billionaires Row", The Bishops Avenue, with his Italian cuisine.

Clients have included businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed, who Francesco described as "a real character" and "one of the best people I know".

During lockdown, the owner renovated the tastefully designed restaurant, complete with exposed brick walls, a well-stocked bar and, of-course, a beautiful pizza oven at its centre.

pizza oven

Squares bakes fresh, authentic Italian pizza in a stone oven - Credit: Sally Patterson

Francesco initially sold pizza by the slice, as is traditional in his Italian hometown.

"Customers have been really, really happy because there's nothing like this place around here," he said.

"Slowly, people are recognising that we serve quality and not quantity.

"That's why we only have 24 seats, I don't want to just do numbers, instead it's about the quality."

Ferme Park Road's Squares Pizzeria effortlessly marries casual with high-end, serving seriously good pizza in an intimate yet buzzing setting, and it is certainly one to visit.

Squares Pizzeria is at 10 Ferme Park Rd, Finsbury Park, London N4 4ED.

squash pizza

A squash pizza wowed vegetarian diners - Credit: Sally Patterson

Squares

Squares was tastefully renovated during lockdown - Credit: Sally Patterson

tiramisu

Francesco is known for his iconic tiramisu - Credit: Sally Patterson

rum baba

The Rum Baba packed a boozy punch - Credit: Sally Patterson

tiger prawn linguine

Tiger prawn linguine went down a treat - Credit: Sally Patterson

cake

Torta Caprese: A gluten-free almond and chocolate cake - Credit: Sally Patterson

pizza

Prosciutto ham and burrata mozzarella- a winning combination - Credit: Sally Patterson

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