By Leslie Williams
Pi Pizza, Castle House, 10 South Great Georges Street, Dublin 2
YES, I know, another pizza restaurant, I could probably review a new pizza restaurant every two weeks in this slot.
Pi opened in early July and I feel rather guilty reviewing them before they have even settled in but the reason is simple: Pi pizzas are as good as I’ve ever tasted.
What sent me there was a post on the excellent (newish) food news website allthefood.ie which boldly declared “If this isn’t the best pizza in Dublin we’ll eat our smartphones”.
So as soon as could be arranged I was sitting in Pi with The Engineer and a trusted foodie friend that had randomly texted me several photos from Pi at 10.15pm the night before — I think she was high on pizza at the time.
It shouldn’t be difficult making great pizza, all you need is a wood-burning oven, flour and water, a kneading machine and some patience.
Not far from Pi on Dame Street is Forno 500 who flew in a team from Naples with nine tonnes of bricks and bits and bobs to create their oven.
They have rare official accreditation from the Naples pizza association, they use good ingredients, their oven heats to 500 Celsius, and their pizza is good… just not good enough, it lacks bounce.
The key to great pizza in my view is bounce. If your oven is hot enough the dough will rise in as little as 50 seconds and will cook through, the cheese will melt, the toppings will cook and the pizza will be so fluffy and light the puffed edges of the crust will bounce under your finger.
Crucially you will remove the pizza from the oven before the base burns, burnt is not a flavour anyone wants, ever.
There are eight pizzas to choose from ranging in price from €9 for a Marinara (no cheese) to €16 for a Funghi made intriguingly with ‘hen of the woods’ mushroom. Sadly, the latter was not available on the day we visited as I suspect this wonderful (and relatively rarely seen) mushroom would work perfectly matched with Grand Padano, Spinach, Fontina, Garlic, Sage and Cream.
We settled on a Margharita as a touchstone; a Salsiccia with crushed Tomatoes, Piquillo peppers, Pickled Chillis, Gubbeen Chorizo and Toonsbridge Fior di Latte; plus a Zuccha with Grand Padano, Basil, Courgette, Garlic, house Ricotta, Salsa Verde and Black Pepper.
All three were glorious. They arrived within seven minutes of ordering (proof of the heat of the oven), the base was fluffy and bouncy and the toppings were appropriate and judiciously used.
The Margharita was textbook, the Gubbeen Chorizo was softened by the milky richness of the Toonsbridge cheese and the heat of the chillis livened things up. The Zuccha made me re-evaluate everything I thought I knew about courgettes, their light subtly bitter flesh rounded out by the Salsa Verde and the ever so slightly funky Ricotta.
There are two desserts — a creamy chocolate mousse pot topped with Maldon sea salt and a genius combination of vanilla ice cream drizzled with supremely fruity extra virgin olive oil — a tiny quibble on the ice-cream which I think could be improved (made lighter, creamier and with more vanilla), but the idea is perfect.
Clear thought has gone into the fine selection of craft beers and my fruity Hopefully Graciosa was a perfect aperitif on the warm evening.
The short wine list is being worked on we were told and it does indeed need tweaking and possibly a wine fridge. Our Finca Las Cabras Rioja was decent however and worth its €29.99, but needed some ice cubes (donated by the excellent barman at the Globe Pub opposite).
Please don’t be shocked (as my foodie friend clearly was), better your wine taste a little dilute than taste of soup.
So how good is Pi? Let me digress a moment, a number of years ago I was on Canal Street in New Orleans walking behind an attractive young woman who was listening to loud music on headphones, she suddenly leaned against the wall and began to twerk to the music, oblivious to onlookers and the noonday sun.
This is the power of good New Orleans Bounce music, the local variant of Rap. Pi Pizza is that good.
One beer, one bottle of wine, three pizzas and two desserts cost €84
How to: Monday to Thursday, 12pm to 10pm; Friday and Saturday, 12pm to 10.30pm; Sunday, 12pm to 9.30pm
In a sentence: An informal but carefully conceived and wonderfully executed pizzeria with pizza so tasty, bouncy and fluffy you may lose control and start texting random people, or worse, start twerking.