Revolutionary, hot and happening – @ Pizza, Edinburgh is Where it’s At!.
“Be the Revolution” is the motto of @Pizza which claims to make the World’s Fastest Pizza so my partner Ken and I went along to check out this record breaking achievement for ourselves.
In 1889 during a visit to Naples by Queen Margherita of Savoy, Chef Esposito created the iconic pizza named after her – Basil, Mozzarella, and Tomato, the colours of the national flag and put the humble savoury flat bread in the spotlight. Today Pizza is beloved the world over and chefs have always tried to replicate or even improve upon the original Neapolitan classic.
@PIZZA is the brainchild of founders Bhasker Dhir and Rupert Lyle who experimented, researched and sourced ingredients and recipes to re-invent their own healthier, calorie-counted style of pizza for the 21st century.
As Bhasker believes “The essence of Italian cooking, in fact any cooking, is great ingredients and this has been the basis of our development. We set out to create the best pizza possible, not just once, but every time”.
And they have also re-imagined the typical Pizzeria in the UK to create a new, revolutionary casual dining experience, perfect for a meal out with family and friends. “ The concept has been designed to be simple, .. our vision is to change the way people eat pizza by changing the way it is served.” Rupert Lyle.
Intrigued at what this revolutionary concept is all about, we arrive at the smart, sleek restaurant on Charlotte Lane, a cobbled street of bars and bistros at the West End. Formerly an office block, the interior design retains an industrial look, all clean lines furnished in wood and steel, café chairs, bar stools and banquette seats with small and large tables to suit couples, friends and families. Ceiling lights rigs are like a theatre stage or art gallery and the paper napkin dispenser looks like a toaster. In muted colours of grey, black and white, it’s modern, minimalist – designed with function and purpose.
Central to the space is the open kitchen with a long counter where diners queue up to order their Pizza. Yes folks, be prepared for self service but it’s much more fun than your usual fast food place. It’s not just a case of ordering from the menu, you design your own from an enticing array of ingredients covering meat, fish, vegetables, sauces and spices. This is so inspirational giving the freedom to choose exactly what you want on your pizza, with no rules that you cannot mix, say, chorizo and pineapple or broccoli with bacon. You are your own chef as it were, artistically mixing and matching to create a colourful culinary feast.
First choose the base, (which is long and oval in shape), either sourdough or ancient grain which is 100% spelt flour, which are both slow-proved 48 hours in advance, here in the kichen. Then select a tomato or perhaps a smoky barbecue sauce, cheese (including Scottish vegan), and all the toppings of protein and vegetables. The servers behind the counter do all the actualpizza preparation (it is not DIY!), and will advise on the selection and what you might like to add to ring the changes. Then when your masterpiece is complete it is popped into a High Tech oven heated to a temperature of 600 degrees F, to bake each pizza in just 90 seconds. Then for the final flourish, add perhaps a drizzle of basil oil, chilli flakes and salad leaves to jazz it up to perfection.
It is best to study the choice of ingredients at your table and have an idea of what you might like, before lining up as you might not wish to rush the decision making. The menu clearly states vegetarian and vegan food as well as the calories for each topping.
Ken and I enjoy this process: I select sourdough with tomato sauce, Scottish mozzarella, mushrooms, roast peppers, a smattering of fresh Jalepeno chillies, spinach and king prawns. Once baked, I ask for a few olives and garlic oil for the final garnish. For Ken, he selects his favourite fish – Tuna, with pesto sauce, red onion and a pile of rocket leaves drizzled with chilli oil.
The thin dough is soft and foldable – best eaten with your fingers – and as we had devised our own personalised pizza, we could not quibble with the choice of ingredients. Every bite of my seafood, cheese and veggie Pizza was simply delicious. And artistically created in record time – just a few minutes from start to finish.
The Bar Drinks menu has been carefully selected for quality rather than quantity. Have a mini bottle of Prosecco or a Mojito cocktail as an aperitif perhaps, and then one of the local craft beers – Paolozzi Lager is light and so refreshing, or an Italian wine, (Chardonnay, Merlot or Rose) served in individual “vegi-plastic” glasses.
A wider choice of wine and also served by the carafe or bottle would be welcome – after all this is a sharing kinda place. Interesting choice too of non-alcoholic Sodas, iced tea, lemonade and low sugar fruit juices.
For those who cannot decide on how they wish their Pizza to look or taste, there are eight Designer recipes including, of course, the classic Margherita, called the Icon and ‘Eat Meat Repeat’, rich in Pepperoni, spicy sausage, ham and beef meatballs. ‘At Tiffany’s’ is cleverly devised like a full Scottish Breakfast, with bacon, sausage and egg, but not quite the same as the coffee and croissant enjoyed by Audrey Hepburn standing outside the famous Jewellery store in New York in the movie.
Another welcome aspect to the @Pizza style of dining is that all the Pizzas are priced at £9.95, whether created by yourself or designed by the Chef. (Just a wee charge of £1.50 for the succulent, juicy King Prawns). The quality ingredients are locally sourced as well as speciality produce from Italy and packaging is environmentally friendly with excellent waste aware process.
The staff – known as the Pack – are super friendly and enthusiastic –all selected and trained by the management to ensure a consistent, professional approach to service. The ambience is casual and relaxing, perfect for families with kids, (who will love making their own pizza), as well as cabaret-style Open Mic music gigs on Sundays each month, and students can enjoy a half price feast on Wednesdays.
Jody Avirgan tweeted this photo with the tagline “ My daughter just tried pizza for the first time” showing her expression of rapturous glee, which went viral. To date, it’s been liked 265,994 times and retweeted 64,397 times. Viewers tweeted back “I still do this!”.
“It’s where it’s at” is an idiom meaning a place that’s fashionable, popular, hot or where the action is. So visit @PIZZA soon whether with your partner, group of friends on a lively night out or family treat and you might tweet photos of happy eaters like this little Pizza lover!
@PIZZA , 4 Charlotte Lane, Edinburgh, EH2 4QZ
Opening hours: Sun-Thur, 12 noon – 10pm; Fri & Sat, 12 noo – 11pm.
Tel. 0131 285 5940
Website – atpizza.com