Review Flying Pizza – Roundhay

We all looked nervously at each other, my palms became sweaty, an awkward silence descended and I shifted uncomfortably in my chair. All because somebody at the table asked “so what are you having?” The menu intimidated us all, I’d even mistaken the specials menu for the main menu for the first 5 minutes. Along with the number of menu options, Flying Pizza isn’t lacking in atmosphere either. The large restaurant was full of the good people of Leeds, talking, gesticulating and having a good time…bar the teenage girl who I was told was sobbing uncontrollably in the bathroom. You’ll be glad to hear ‘they didn’t mean what they said to her’, a phrase her friends echoed under the stall. Our table was located next to the theatre kitchen were the hard working chefs could be seen having as good a time as the diners. Whilst we munched on packets of bread sticks we admired walls strewn with photos of such luminaries as Ant & Dec (conspicuously not on the same photo), someone who was or is in the Sugababes and JLS (Gone but not forgotten). None of which I think have ever been to this branch of the San Carlo empire, at least I don’t think Rihanna has ever been to Street Lane in Roundhay.

It was from the specials I ordered my starter, ‘Funghi Campagnola’. These open cup mushrooms filled with creamy leeks, olive oil, parmesan and breadcrumbs were bullied by a spicy side sauce. It was pricey for £7.25 for a small portion that lacked something special and I’m sure lacked a billed filling of tomatoes. The traditional looking starters wouldn’t have looked out of place served to Gordon Gekko wearing a sweater vest, listening to Roxy music. My better halfs melon with parma ham a case in point but demonstrated some of the quality ingredients on offer. The mussels Provencale was the stand out starter, showing what’s great about Italian cooking – tasty, quality ingredients prepared very well. A third of the mussels were closed, this was rectified by the manager swiftly. The staff throughout the meal were a friendly bunch even on a busy Saturday service.

In Leeds we’re lucky that amongst the glut of takeaways and chain pizza restaurants, some places really get it right, With Ecco pizzeria and Box pizza springing to mind…mouth-watering as I type. I took a chance on the pizza and after a glass or two of wine, I mistakenly ordered a San Marco pizza rather than a San Carlo. Thankfully instead of a frozen, deep pan pizza that leaves your mouth and expectations in tatters, it impressed. The base has the right mix of crisp and soft, starting to blacken for extra flavour. The tangy tomato sauce and creamy mozzarella were generously topped with peppery rocket, rich shavings of parmesan and salty parma ham. These deliciously subtle flavours contrast with the powerful, spicy, salty meaty flavour of Pizza Diavola. The menu states this pizza was popular with the Italian immigrants in Brooklyn and boasts the famous ‘nduja sausage imported from Calabria. The pizza manages that fine balance between packing a spicy punch but also allowing the sausage, onions and chilli. Both extremes welcome parts of the heavily creaking menu. The Carbonara was a bit too creamy for my tastes but went down well with my better half and the salmon tortellini showcased the fish in a superb, velvety sauce. As you may be able to tell, we were beaten before we got to dessert.

We had a great night at Flying Pizza with a loud, bustling atmosphere and flowing alcohol adding the occasion. What is lacking is value, fewer dishes on the menu done well would be ideal for me and justify the reasonably high price tag. Starters were around £8, pizza and pasta around £12 and meat dishes from £17 upwards. If you like choice, a great spot for a night out and don’t mind spending your pennies then this will be right up your street, I’ll be back for the Pizza Diavola.

Open Monday to Sunday, 12pm to 11pm

Located 60 Street Lane, Roundhay, LS8 2DQ

Image

Margherita Pizza

ImageFlorence is one of my favourite places. We spent some great days wondering the streets in the sunshine, frequently stopping at Grom for pistachio or hazlenut gelato. At night, stumbling home with full bellies after a few glasses of red listening to the sounds of street musicians. Sounds good right? Well let’s gloss over the heated argument I had with an Italian shop owner about a travel adapter.

Our travel guide had given us some poor recommendations. One occasion saw a pizzeria owner show us so much contempt – I can only assume I insulted both his wife and kids whilst ordering bread sticks in Italian. One balmy night in Florence, we headed South of the river to Gusta pizza. The pizzeria was small, packed with locals and tourists huddled round barrels with pizza on paper plates and delicious wine in plastic cups. The incredible pizzas were cooked right in front of you in big wood fired oven in the corner. We loved them so much we ordered two more and scoffed them down next to the imposing Pitti Palace. Whilst I’ll never replicate those pizzas, with the help of a pizza making class whilst in Italy, I’ve managed to make something quick and pretty tasty indeed.

Image

Here’s my thin and crispy margherita. The trick, like all Italian cooking, is to keep it simple and use good quality ingredients. If you do have a pizza stone then brilliant, a slab from B&Q will do too. It helps to cook the pizza fast in a super hot oven to give a crispy, blackened base. If not a pizza pan with holes in will do. I use beer rather than just water which helps give a much needed, malty taste to the base, perfect for dipping your crust in some garlic mayo.

Image

METHOD

ONE First whisk the beer, yeast, water and oil in a bowl and add your flour and salt to the mix. TWO Get your hand in, making a claw shape with your hand and turning the dough like it’s a massive dial whilst rotating the bowl THREE Once roughly combined, oil a clean work surface and knead for 10 minutes FOUR I tend to divide the dough into 150g and make them into ball shape, Leave the balls to rise for 1 hour FIVE Whilst the dough is on its way empty the tin of tomatoes in a saucepan and roughly tear some basil in to it. Season with sea salt and black pepper and leave on a low heat for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally SIX Preheat your oven to as high as it will go with your stone in the oven!

Image

SEVEN To get a really thin base, roll out your dough so its almost see through. When confident, stretch out a bit using your hands EIGHT (The tricky bit) I remove the pizza stone from the oven carefully using oven gloves and quickly spread over the dough NINE Top the pizza with a ladle full of sauce, scatter 5 large leaves of basil and tear the mozzarella over the base, covering the basil with the cheese TEN Cook for 7 minutes but keep an eye out, it will cook fast. Enjoy.

ELECTRIC MIXERS You can of course combine and knead the dough using an electric mixer by mixing on the lowest setting as you add the water using the dough hook. Then turning up the speed to the next setting for 3 minutes. BUT where’s the fun in that?

Image