For someone who likes naughty food as much as I, Pizza never makes it onto my list of meals I crave, or even foods I really like. Husband on the other hand, is a totally different matter. If he arrives home on Friday night clutching a takeaway box of Pizza, he’s had a rough week and diving into that box of pizza is his nirvana. This is a man who’s favourite restaurant is Pizza Express after all.
So when asked by the good folk at Pizza Rossa to attend a Pizza Making masterclass, I had to go along. Perhaps I’d learn some tricks of the trade and be able to surprise him with some homecooked varieties.
Corrado starts us off by telling his story and loving wife that I am, all I can think about is how much Husband would have loved to hear this story! It all began with London based Italian engineer Corrado Accardi, Pizza mad (rather like hubby, but perhaps with less of a penchant for takeaways) and outside of his day job, spent an awful lot of time thinking and dreaming of how to get quality pizza.
He wanted one that was not so bad for the waistline and also that could be available by the slice, so any time he wanted a pizza fix, he didn’t have to go into a restaurant and order one. Breakthrough came when he devised a recipe that did just that and through the genius of Crowdsourcing, broke the European record for fund raising within just 17 days. And Pizza Rossa was born. That’s the short version of the story but listening to Corrado talk, there’s no doubt that it was a great deal harder, longer and involved significant amount of sweat and hard work.
Chef Luca then shows us how to make the dough and despite my ineptness in the kitchen, it’s not so hard. There are two secrets here – they use a lot less yeast and salt than mass manufacturers of Pizza dough, which means that they must leave their dough for up to 20 hours to rise which in turn makes it much more easy to digest and therefore much better for the waistline and the second secret is that by making their dough in a certain way, it actually tastes better after you reheat it. I’m no food scientist, but we’re here to put it to the test! First though, we try our hand at making up our own batches of dough.
The dough is wrapped up in clingfilm so that it doesn’t continue to rise and we’re given detailed instructions on how to make our very own Pizza Rossa but mine is still in the freezer, so updates on that will follow soon! In true ‘Here’s one I prepared earlier fashion’ they show us what the finished version of the dough should look like.
Let’s be honest, it doesn’t look appetising. It resembles a cross between a bath sponge and a pizza base, reminiscent most of those awful crispbreads I resort to when attempting a diet. This changes when the sauce and mozzarella are added, but I’m now awaiting the final result.
The room is colourfully decked out in Red and caters to the hungry hordes of city workers who can pop in as early as 7:30am for a coffee and breakfast and closes at 4. Since I don’t work in the area, it’s going to be hard for me to make it here, but they’re expanding all the time and hope to have 12 outlets in the next 5 years, so I’ve already put in my bid to have one near me. We shall see.
But now for the main event, large trays of pizza squares are coming speeding towards us and conversation completely halts. My favourite is the artichoke, olive and ham one – the flavours are really simple and the combination just sings out. But the base, now that is really interesting. I’m not a fan of thin-base pizza, so I always order regular pan, but then you have to deal with the stodge. This one manages to get the balance exactly right, it’s thinner than a regular pan pizza yes, but not actually thin and even after a few bites, it’s very clear that it’s not at all stodgy. There’s a bit of crunch there, not too much and I am duly impressed.
The only flavour I’m not too enamoured with is the white one, mozzarella, zucchini and ham and I think it’s missing the tomato sauce, which is light and fresh and serves to complement the ingredients, but without the sauce, the pizza feels a little too bland. Apparently they have a signature pizza blend of Goats cheese with Walnut, Speck and honey but they hadn’t made it today but that sounds like a winning combination that I’ll be back to try.
It seems that some of their pizzas contribute at least one of your five a day and most slices are under the 300 calorie mark as they’re not laden down with cheese and the quality of the base is so much more superior. Husband’s eyes light up at the thought of this ‘healthy pizza’ angle and should they expand to a venue nearby, they’ll probably find Husband in there every day. And wonder of wonders, I probably won’t even complain all that much.
In the interests of full disclosure, I was a guest of Pizza Rossa and departed with my finished dough ball and ingredients to do a bit of pizza DIY at home. As always, opinions are all on my own and no amount of pizza can persuade me otherwise.