Hidden Gems: The Waltzing Matilda Floating Pizzeria

Find it where it floats, this acclaimed family-run Naples-style pizza barge takes canal-side dining to another level.

By Manchester's Finest | Last updated 24 November 2022

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Talk about marvels of modern engineering. Well, perhaps not necessarily that modern considering both the vessel and its priced cargo are steeped in centuries-old traditions, nevertheless, the fact owner Paul and five of his friends managed to fit a full Neapolitan pizza oven onto a narrowboat is nothing short of impressive. “It was a big squeeze getting us in, never mind the oven,” he says of how what might be the UK’s only floating pizzeria was first born.

The food at The Waltzing Matilda is equally commendable, hence it being the focus for the latest in our Hidden Gems series. We found this waterway dining experience in the south of our region, specifically picturesque Marple, at a mooring on the historic Macclesfield Canal. But the beauty of the establishment is the fact it’s mobile, location only limited insofar as needing to be on the canal network, which, in North West England, isn’t really that restrictive at all.

A true family affair, originally conceived as a pit stop for coffee and cakes made by Paul’s daughter, Rebecca (or ‘Spud’ to those in the know), with her brownies a huge selling point, more recently the draw has also been stone-fired bases, which some have heralded as the finest this side of Italy. Made using the biga preferment technique, the result is a light, airier crust than the stereotypical Naples-style. Throw on toppings such as chorizo, N’duja, jalapeños and chilli honey (aptly named The Swagman), and you can understand why there’s so much being said about The Waltzing Matilda right now.

Something Paul’s son and chef Chris is understandably proud of. Not to mention cracking the logistical challenge of making exceptionally good pizzas, completely from scratch, in the confines of a small but charming dark green boat. Trained under the internationally renowned Marco Fuso, if that name means nothing you really need to brush up on some pizza knowledge, the standards during that tutelage are more than visible today, with ingredients locally sourced when and where possible, and a focus on simple, honest food made using the freshest produce for a mouthwateringly satisfying experience. Suffice to say, by now you’re probably chomping at the bit to watch all this in action first-hand, so hit play on the video below and let’s jump on board to get up close and personal with the crew behind this flavour-filled mini-cruise.

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