Michael Notarangelo, 30, has embarked on a project to turn his passion for food into a career after his initial plan to go into mechanical engineering didn’t pan out.
And now he has just launched Pronto Pizza, which serves Neapolitan-style pizza, at Edinburgh Zoo.
The new restaurant came about after a request was made for a food trailer to be based at the zoo’s new hilltop dinosaur exhibit. It has been equipped with several Ooni ovens to serve pizzas in record time and is already proving to be a big winner with visitors.
The zoo is currently home to Michael’s other two food operations under its parent company Belmonte Catering; Dog n Bone Street Food, which specializes in gourmet hot dogs, bon bon and loaded fries, as well as Rolly’s Ice Cream – the first such company in Scotland to make unique ice cream ‘rolls’.
Michael said: ‘After graduating I got a job on the new Queensferry Crossing but when this project was completed I found myself out of work and unable to find an engineering role to suit my skills. .
“It was during a trip to Thailand that I saw the opportunity to develop an ice cream roll business based on the street vendors who came up with the idea.
“The fact that my grandfather drove an ice cream van after emigrating from Italy to Edinburgh was also more than a passing inspiration. After securing funding, I decided to start my own bespoke operation called Rolly’s Ice Cream, developing and purchasing the equipment and designing all branding and product development.
He added: “I have set up a new limited company, Belmonte Catering – named after the village of our family home in Italy – where we plan to offer a range of services such as catering at events in Scotland and the UK and in further developing links with conference organisers, venues and catering operations.
He added that his goal is to have a permanent base for the business, not only to centralize operations but also to set up a door-to-door delivery service.
“People love street food, especially if it’s fun, tasty and quick – and that’s what we focused on and to make sure we did exceptionally well,” he said.
Now developing this new venture, Michael plans to take delivery of a new purpose built 18ft trailer which will replace the existing Dog n Bone truck at Edinburgh Zoo.
Ben Supple, Director of Engagement and Business Development at Edinburgh Zoo, said: “We are delighted to be expanding our food offering here at Edinburgh Zoo. As a wildlife conservation charity and one of Scotland’s most iconic tourist attractions, we want to provide the best possible experience for visitors.
“Supporting our communities is important to us, so we wanted to feature local food vendors who share our values of sustainability. Collaboration between communities is an essential element in enabling the wildlife conservation work of our charities and, in turn, creating a world where nature is protected, valued and loved.