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Eat pizza or leave, says Italian chef

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We like a good pizza as much as the next person - but perhaps a four-cheese special wouldn't taste quite as good if we felt compelled to eat it.

However, those who visit the Santa Maria Pizzeria in Ealing, West London, won't have much choice - since the owner is ordering customers to leave if they don't eat pizza.

Angelo Ambrosio, co-owner of the restaurant, said his controversial eviction policy was not about cost, but came from a passion for the venue's mainstay dish.

He recently threw out a group of four diners when only two of them ordered pizzas. One lady said she was on a diet and asked for a salad, whereupon Ambrosio told her to go elsewhere.

"Our policy is that you should order a pizza rather than a salad or a side," Ambrosio told London's Evening Standard. "Four people must order at least three pizzas. If you're not hungry or on a diet why would you go to a busy restaurant that only seats 16 people? I'm selling pizza - that's what people come here for."

Sophie Baker, a 25-year-old teacher, was one of the diners recently evicted from the restaurant.

"It was outrageous," she said. "We ordered two pizzas, two salads, a side, a bottle of wine, a separate glass of wine and two soft drinks and we were told 'everyone has to have a pizza.'

"I felt really let down. If we had ordered any more pizzas they wouldn't have been eaten so we had to leave."

However Ambrosio would not be budged on his decision, saying, "If you go to a pizzeria, you should eat pizza."

A statement on the website of the restaurant, which got an honourable mention in the BBC's Best Alternative Restaurant 2011, read: "Santa Maria Pizzeria will be happy to feed everyone, from pennyless students to VIPs, with the authentic taste of Naples."

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