L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele has — sort of — closed in Stoke Newington. The world famous Naples pizzeria, featured in the Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem film Eat Pray Love, opened in Stoke Newington early in 2017, and was quickly acclaimed as one of London’s essential pizzerias. The pizzeria franchised a second site on Baker Street after an apparent legal back-and-forth over licensing terms, and the same problems look to have resulted in a renaming of the Stoke Newington restaurant.
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele’s parent company, Michele in the World, licensed its name — and Neapolitan pizza recipes — to two separate companies: Semani, for Stoke Newington, and Six Italian Food, for Baker Street. The former license has now expired.
Searching for “L’Antica Pizzeria Stoke Newington,” a listing appears for “Pizzeria Stokey — watch this space!”; L’Antica’s official website has removed the Stoke Newington site from its listings. Pizzeria Stokey’s Facebook page tells another story: an announcement posted 13 June — succeeded by a series of posts proclaiming “a new story to write” and the announcement that the restaurant will be closed until 6 September for “holidays” — reads as follows:
Eater has contacted representatives of the brand in London for further comment. A report in The Evening Standard last year — in which Semani owner Serena Sarnataro is quoted — stated that Michele in the World terminated its agreement with Semani as early as September 2017. A legal challenge from Semani ensued, which appears to have resulted in this agreement.
Although Pizzeria Stokey claims that the renaming was by June’s “mutual agreement”, regarding the termination of the trademark, Michele’s solicitor, Ivan Lentile, told the Evening Standard in December: “Such termination was necessary as a result of the very serious violations that Semani had committed whilst the franchising agreement was in place.” Semani owner Serena Sarnataro said at the time that, “The opening in Baker Street clearly clashes with the existing contract that we have and that’s why Michele In The World had to state that it was terminated.”
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele on Baker Street site continues to trade under that name.