Ekurhuleni sisters duel it out in pizzeria challenge

In the inaugural Porcupine Ridge Pizzeria Challenge held last year, Claudia Lau’s Bedfordview-based restaurant Osteria Rossa came in at number nine in the Top 10 of South Africa’s favourite pizzerias as voted for by the public.
This year, Lau faced stiff competition, not only from the likes of Gino’s in Robertsham (last year’s winner) and Ferdinando’s in Cape Town (this year’s winner), but also from her sister Cristina De Almeida who runs Piccola Rossa in Edenvale. It was a serious, but friendly, rivalry that goes back years to when the sisters were growing up.

But for once De Almedia triumphed over Lau and Piccola Rossa took the number eight spot ahead of Osteria Rossa which again came in at number nine.

We managed to tear the siblings away from their respective restaurants and sat down with them – separately – to talk about their competitiveness and their close bond.

Has there always been a friendly rivalry between you?

Claudia: I do not know how it started but everything became a competition between us and I think still is. As I was older and more athletic, I generally beat Cristina at almost anything, although she would then resort to alternative tactics which would result in an argument. When we did fight, we would often get into trouble from our parents but we would immediately band together and stick up for each other. The only thing Cristina ever beat me in was getting her driver’s licence first and, of course, this year’s Porcupine Ridge Pizzeria Challenge.

Cristina: We found anything to compete against each other. Daily chores were always who could do it better and dinner times were sometimes who could fit the most food in their mouth (we never had a winner as our parents told us to stop). I would always win at Monopoly but if you ask her, she will say it’s because I would steal money from the bank. I did get my driver’s license first although she will tell you that she is the better driver.

How are you most alike and most different?

Cristina: We are different yet so alike in so many ways. Claudia is more extroverted whereas I am bit of an introvert.  She has always been my big sister and has always looked out for me and continues to do so. We call it “unagi”. We can both arrive at a place wearing the same outfit if not similar styles or colours. We have such different ways of thinking about things and such different personalities but yet so alike. She is a piece of me.

Claudia: While people often mistake us for twins because we are so alike in that we often dress the same (I blame my parents as they dressed us like twins when we were younger), it’s our values that make us most alike as we are both family orientated, caring, strong and believe that being kind to everyone is one of the most important gifts you can give people no matter what they do. Our personalities are where we differ, you could say I am the more extroverted one or as Cristina would put it – bossy. As children I never wanted to be the mom or the child, I was always the principal or the boss.

What was the reaction of your staff and customers to your wins?

Claudia: Both our customers and staff were hugely excited when we made it into the top 10 again. I am so grateful for our customers’ support and my team’s hard work and commitment to the Rossa brand. The team at Osteria Rossa were also very happy for Piccola Rossa’s win and suggested we send them a gift to congratulate Cristina and her team. The rivalry has definitely rubbed off on the Rossa staff.

Cristina: My team was ecstatic. I think after everything we have been through during the past two years it was an amazing feeling to celebrate something and to be recognised with this achievement. The staff were especially happy to have beaten Osteria Rossa. Our customers were truly happy for us and expressed words of congratulations over social media and instore. It has just been an exciting few weeks giving us the energy and motivation to know we are doing something right and to continue doing so.

How did you celebrate your respective wins?

Claudia: I haven’t had the time to celebrate but plan to do a family dinner, at which Cristina will no doubt be serving me humble pie! I really thought I had this one in the bag with one week to go and was in absolute shock when the results were announced. Once I recovered though, I honestly could not have been prouder of my smart, incredible and strong baby sister! I am so incredibly happy of her achievement after all she has been through in the past two years.

Cristina: I celebrated by playing Queen’s We are the Champions loud over the speakers the next day when she arrived at the restaurant for a meeting. But Claudia got all her staff to sign a card of congratulations and treated them all the staff to a slab of chocolate and a bouquet of flowers for me. Claudia – always the nurturer, the beautiful soul.

Will you enter the Porcupine Pizzeria Challenge next year?

Cristina: Absolutely! This year, Claudia must eat humble pie but I can assure you that next year she will fight even harder to beat us and we will have to work even harder to stay ahead. This is not the end!

Claudia: I will definitely be entering in 2023. It’s game on! Next time though I will not underestimate the competition! I think this year’s result of being so close has only intensified the rivalry and I cannot wait to take her on.

  • Osteria Rossa is located at Bedford Village, Cnr Van Buuren/Nicol Roads, Bedfordview.Tel: 011 455 5912. For more information and to see the menu visit www.myrossa.co.za. 
  • Piccola Rossa is located at Shop 24, Glen Curve Shopping Centre, Elm St, Marais Steyn Park. Tel: 011 022 1075. For more information and to see the menu, visit www.myrossa.co.za.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *