Neil Sowerby enjoys light bases and local toppings in Didsbury's latest pizza gaff
TAKING Back Control of our Topped Dough – it has a ring to it. Not that Great British Pizza, despite its name and Isle of Thanet credentials, is following the Ukippers in a quest for some mythical national self-worth. They just want to make pizza with lighter bases and UK-sourced toppings.
It doesn’t mean chasing from our shores all those Italians who see things differently, with their 00 flour dusted aprons and pots of San Marzano passata. Or those fellow-travelling local Remainers such as Rudy’s and Proove, who are all about long dough proving to create crusty Neapolitan-style bases.
Back to the beginning. The first Great British Pizza progressed from a food truck to permanent premises on Margate seafront. Indeed it has shared credit for regenerating the resort along with the likes of the Turner Gallery. Huge acclaim included Telegraph critic Zoe Williams declaring: “This is the best pizza I’ve ever had.” And she got through two, which is easy to understand after we tried them out at their second outlet in West Didsbury – the bases are flatbread crispy, the toppings an intense whisper of flavour.
The smart franchise operation is only here (in a former noodle bar) because fashion trade movers and shakers Grant Ashdown and Kally Shukla so loved the Margate menu that no other pizza would do for them. Since Didsbury was now home they begged GBP founders, Rachel Seed and Lisa Richards, to let them (as they always say in pizza reviews) have a slice of the action up here.
Apart from a laudable commitment to local suppliers and acclaimed microbar Heaton Hops curating the beer list, this Great British Pizza follows the Kentish template with nary a twist or tweak in sight.
A trio of wines on tap come by the glass or in 75cl (£16) carafes and there’s no cutlery proffered, so you eat the pizzas as finger food. These include the Margate-rita, at an entry level £6; no sign yet of a Manc-inara.
It’s great to see the likes of Heaton Chapel butchers Littlewoods on the laminated list of suppliers, but for charcuterie needs they are sticking to London Borough Market’s Cannon and Cannon. They supplied the Moons Green wild mushroom and truffle oil salami for my £9.50 pizza, also topped with white onion and roasted garlic. Subtly earthy stuff.
Grant is an anchovy fiend, so we had to try the anchovy special (£9.25), olives, capers and a hint of chilli in the sharp tomato sauce.
A glass of the on-tap Cabernet Merlot should have been a perfect match but it felt plonky. For our final pizza I resorted to a can of locally sourced Burton Road Brewery IPA (£5.60), American style full of citrus and pine.
That final pizza was the I Love Manchester one, with 50p of the £9.50 cost going to homeless charity Barnabas. It was a means to sample their gluten-free base and wasn’t wholly successful. Both my companion and I prefer our pizzas to have tomato in the topping. This substituted ricotta, alongside garlic mushrooms, blue cheese and caramelised onions and was a surprisingly bland affair (like so many white pizzas). The main problem being that gluten-free base, which was brittle and difficult to swallow.
A step too far in the battle of the bases. GBP specially commission their standard version from a bakery to their own recipe, so they arrive ready proved, light and moreish - echoing the rosy bare-brick, stripped down but warm space.
GBP pizzas are a delicious change, but call me Sloppy Giuseppe and stick me on the next easyJet to Napoli – I still prefer a big crust to chomp on.
Great British Pizza Co, 113 Lapwing Lane, West Didsbury, M20 6UR.Tel: 0161 434 9900
All scored reviews are unannounced, impartial, paid for by Confidential and completely independent of any commercial relationship. Venues are rated against the best examples of their type: 1-5: saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9: Netflix and chill, 10-11: if you're passing, 12-13: good, 14-15: very good, 16-17: excellent, 18-19: pure class, 20: cooked by God him/herself.
Moons Green Salami 8, Anchovy special 8, Garlic mushroom and blue cheese 5 (back to base), ice creams 6