In my travels, some years ago, I crossed the border into Northern Italy from Monaco with my first stop being a small roadside café. There I tasted my first Neapolitan pizza with delicious black olives.
I’d never tasted a pizza like it before, and I haven’t had anything approaching it since, and it is only now I am beginning to understand what it is that makes all the difference. All this came to mind when I recently made my first visit to The Crocodile Café in Longridge Avenue, Saltdean.
Davade & Declan - welcome you to The Crocodile Cafe
Three years ago, with the anniversary being last week, Davide set up The Crocodile Café, with his small band of Italian colleagues. From that time he has been serving his authentic Italian food to a regularly packed restaurant of local diners.
‘What is the secret of your success?’ I asked.
As Davide described, ‘Care and attention to detail is fundamental.’ This includes, he stated, sourcing the best fresh, quality ingredients that you can get. For the perfect traditional pizza, he added, ‘The dough you use needs 24 to 48 hours to mature, to be lighter.’ He went on to say that the yeast needs time to express itself to ensure its lightness. Often dough is not proved properly, he explained. ‘Rarely people take the time,’ Davade emphasised, ‘let dough have time.’ He also importantly uses traditional flour.
Interestingly, Davide’s experience with many of his customers is that because his pizzas are so light, they can order a dessert after their pizza, because they haven’t been filled up by an overly heavy, doughy meal.
Davade introduces his fine wines
Certainly, Davide’s customers love the taste of his traditional Italian cooking on offer. Davade does all the cooking of the main dishes with his colleagues handling the desserts. I asked where his love of cooking came from. ‘My grandmother had eleven children, and she taught them all how to cook.’ Davide loved cooking from an early age; he also learned from his grandmother.
He was excited about cooking. It was and still is his passion. Simple approach with very good ingredients is Davide’s basic philosophy to cooking. Many of the ingredients used in The Crocodile are from Italy, and the fish served is from Newhaven – fresh from our local sea. And of course, don't forget the cheese!
Cheeses from Italy to your taste
In addition to their drinks menu of various wines, they also bring in some Italian specials. Currently, for example, they have a 2013 Poggio Dele Faine Rosso along with an Amicone 2015 Cautine Diora Italia, and Borghetto Chianti 2016, Prodotto in Italia.
This week's specials
It’s best to book a table on Fridays and Saturday as they are at their busiest over the weekends. They are open all day: serving a light breakfast, sandwiches and fresh pasta dishes for lunch and a full dinner menu in the evening. Dinner includes pasta dishes, pizza and calzone, fish, steaks and salads.
Fresh ingredients - all the time
The newly launched LA Bar, also in Longridge Avenue. is now served by The Crocodile Café. While at the LA Bar you can order from a provided menu, and the order is phoned across and delivered by a member of staff from The Crocodile. The LA Bar has a lunch menu of sandwiches, pizza and three fresh pasta dishes. They also have light bites and two specials every day.
Authentic Italian Pizza Only
The Crocodile Café achieved a Trip Adviser award in 2018 and they have just learnt they are up for the same award in 2019.
I now know where to go to repeat my experience of tasting an authentic Italian pizza from all those years ago; and why, of course, it tasted so good.
Reporting for Zone Zine
The Crocodile watches over Longridge Avenue, Saltdean
14A-16 Longridge Ave,
Brighton BN2 8LH
Book your table:
Monday 9:30 - 22:00
Tuesday 9:30 - 22:00
Wednesday 9:30 - 22:00
Thursday 9:30 - 22:00
Friday 9:30 - 22:30
Saturday 9:30 - 22:30