Local chef Pasquale Iannone has always known his pizzas are good - but now they are being recognised across the culinary world.
Pasquale, owner of the eponymous Italian restaurant in Ashton, has just received confirmation that he is through to the grand final of a prestigious award next month set to be judged by celebrity TV chef and London restauranteur Aldo Zilli.
The eaterie in Gerrard Street muscled its way past more than 10,000 rivals to qualify in the Best Pizza section.
And Pasquale believes its a special ingredient from his beloved home city of Naples, in the sunny deep south of the country, which is making all the difference.
A chef for the past 25 years - most of them in restaurants in and around Wigan - he uses specially imported Neopolitan plum tomatoes for his all important base.
These are fried with the best quality Italian Virgin olive oil, fresh basil and origano...and generations of secret family know how.
Pasquale will be travelling to the finals, to be staged in Huddersfield, with his proud pizza chef Rino Lombardo, before an exciting belissimo presentation ceremony at Manchester’s Palace Hotel at the end of September.
He admitted that, after entering the competition in the early spring (which features a secret tasting session from under cover judges), he had then forgotten all about it.
The first generation of his family to be a professional chef, he said: “Talk about surprised!
“I was seriously shocked, I could not speak.
“In fact I thought that my friends were making a joke at my expense but when I double checked I found it was indeed true.
“It is so exciting because we have gone up against the big restaurant chains such as Pesto in Appley Bridge or Piccolino and Gusto, but we have had a good run and made it to the final!
“The sauce is a family recipe, it is my mother Assunta’s.
“She is very, very happy to hear about this - but she still says that she makes the best sauce. I’m sure she always will!
“The secret is using the very best possible high quality ingredients, such as Italian tomatoes imported from the edge of Naples, for the sauce, fresh every day.”
Their most popular pizza is the Pasquales’ special....chicken, ham, mushroom, chorizo and salami.