A pizza Italian style

Everyone knows it – pizza tastes best when eaten in Italy. It’s a bit like eating fish and chips by the sea, tucking into game in Scotland or patisserie in France. There’s something about the locations which adds to the experience. By bringing in additional senses to those of taste and smell, eating can be enhanced. Heston Blumenthal was onto this when he introduced the heightened experience of sound to his experimental dining and carried out research with Oxford university So when the Pizza Express announced that they’re doing now doing a pizza like they do in Rome I was sceptical.
It might look like a Roman pizza, it might smell like a pizza from Roma, it might even sound like a pizza from Rome – but would it taste like one?
Head chef Antonio Romani gave me this advice on how to spot a genuine Roman pizza.
SEE: Look at the cheese-to-sauce ratio. The sauce on a Roman pizza should be visible. The toppings should not dominate the pizza and not take away from the flavour of the sauce, crust or cheese. The rim should be slightly blackened and the pizza surfaced slightly blistered.
SMELL: The crust should smell like good bread, and the sauce and cheese should smell fresh. The smell of dried herbs or garlic should not overwhelm the pizza.
TOUCH: First look to see if there is any lip, or rim, around the crust. Tear off a piece and look at the dough structure – there should be holes from the gasses caused during the dough’s rising period, and the dough should be cooked through. Then hold up a whole slice and take a good look at it from the side; the crust should be cooked through and stand up to the weight of the toppings. So perfect for eating with your fingers – just like we do in Rome .
TASTE: The crust should taste slightly yeasty and should ooze flavour. The perfect pizza will have a slight crunch and the tomato sauce will be vibrant, not sour or “cooked” tasting. The cheese will taste fresh, have character and blend appropriately with the toppings, which should be fresh, colourful and delicious.
Giving one a try at the restaurant in Lower King Street, the first noticeable thing was it looked larger than their normal offerings. “The same amount of dough” the waiter assured me, “just rolled thinner”.
Being a “thin and crispy” fan, this super-slim base suited me but I didn’t notice any particular blackening or blistering.
The smell was good and fresh although I ‘m note sure I agree with Antonio’s suggestion on the herbs – I rather like a good fragrance of oregano.
The structure though was spot on – just look at this tear.
Verdict: It’s a welcome addition to the new summer menu. A pretty good effort but, however you look at it, eating one in a sunny Palazzo in Rome would always taste better than lunch in a rainy office lunch in Manchester.

Pizza Express, South King Street Old Colony House, Manchester, M2 6DQ. 0161 834 0145


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