According to a 1990s census, there were just 220 families bearing the surname Manciocchi worldwide. Two of those were based in the UK – our own family – and two in the USA. The others were all in the two villages sitting either side of a mountain, located in the Italian region of Lazio. Over 190 Manciocchi families reside in the village of Cori and the remainder in Montelanico, where Andrew’s father, Venanzio, was born. The two villages are just a mile apart, if you traverse the mountain top. An hour’s car journey separates them, if you need to go around it! We have the romantic notion that, many years ago, a Manciocchi strode over the mountain top, fell in love with a girl there and never went back …
Venanzio arrived in the UK in 1951, aged just 16, seeking both work and a new life. He quickly moved his mother (‘Nonna’) and his two younger brothers over, whilst his elder sister stayed in Italy and married. His father was already sadly estranged, due to the stresses of World War II.
Venanzio’s burning desire was firstly to open a pizzeria in the UK but his brothers convinced him it would never catch on. Instead, he pursued a career as a tailor and then a toy manufacturer. Tragically, he died very young, aged just 52 years, but luckily left a legacy in his son Andrew, who was imbued with a passion for Italian food, derived from both father and Nonna, and channelled that into founding Orchard Ovens and bringing wood-fired pizza and other dishes to the UK, to realise his father’s dream.
Fast-forward to March 2021 and the next two generations are ready to keep the Manciocchi association with wood-fired food alive, with Andrew’s son, Dino, welcoming a new baby son, fittingly named Venanzio.
As they say, you can take the Manciocchis out of Montelanico but you simply cannot take the love of Italian tradition and family out of the Manciocchis.