As the birthplace of the pizza, no trip to Italy would be complete without chowing down on a decent pie. But what if you want to get the best pizza in the entire country? If you believe the results of a recent poll by the Italian food website Gastronauta, you’ll want to visit the coastal town of Rimini in northern Italy and visit its… uh… rehab center.
Sp.accio, a pizza place opened as part of the San Patrignano rehabilitation center, took the top spot in an online poll that ran on Gastronauta throughout September and attracted nearly 40,000 votes. According to The Local, Sp.accio, which was renovated, rebranded and reopened in August after ten years in operation, specializes in using organic flour and local produce for its pie. But possibly more importantly, it’s entirely run by young people undergoing drug rehab either on their own accord, after a referral from social services or even as an alternative to prison time. The restaurant’s website describes it as, “A place for all and where everything is taken care of by the residents of the community, from the pizza makers to the chefs, from the waiters to the sales staff. A way for them to get involved, a way to show that they have won the bet made with themselves.”
Related: WHO DELIVERED THE FIRST PIZZA?
The restaurant’s victory doesn’t appear to be entirely a fluke. It earns high praise on TripAdvisor where it’s ranked as the third best eatery in the area. But Gasronauta didn’t gloss over Sp.accio’s ultimate purpose either. “As well as honoring a quality pizza, we honor a project of rehabilitation, training, integration and growth for young people who have decided to turn over a new leaf and give themselves a second chance,” the site is quoted as writing. Reportedly, 72 percent of San Patrignano residents go on to a full recovery. “Learning a profession means growing in self-esteem and interpersonal relationships,” the center advocates. “It is also the key to full reintegration into society.”
Finishing second in the poll was Lievito – a pizzeria located in Reggio Calabria on the toe of Italy’s boot. Maybe for next year, the “pizze & birre” spot will try to up its game and hire some folks with a more interestng backstory.