Age: Only a few months.
Is this the first Pi? The second. Owner Rosie Whaley launched her flagship in Winchester a few years back but this is her first venture in the big L.
What’s Rosie’s story? Having spent the bulk of her career working in fashion, the game changed when she popped to Florence for a working holiday in a local pizzeria. Inspiration soon struck and she decided to swap the Prada for a pizza slicer and bring those Tuscan tastes and techniques back to lil’ old blighty.
What’s it like inside? Minimalist and airy, but every surface’s evidently been meticulously designed, from navy brick walls and golden yellow banquet-seating to hand-picked Morroccan rugs and wooden tables carved from fallen oak-trees from the woods in Salisbury.
There are various alcoves centred around the open kitchen, the bar’s got a living ceiling (it’s coated in flowers) and there’s even an actual tree sitting under a sky-lit roof in the main dining space outback. Get too engrossed in your company, the pizza or that bottle of organic red and you could easily trick yourself into thinking you’re spending a summer’s eve in a little Tuscan town.
What are we talking? Pizza. Mahoosive 20-inch PIZZA. All cordoned off into halves or thirds with an impressive choice of topping combos – things like spiced Lebanese lamb drizzled in Turkish yogurt or gorgonzola, baked pear and walnut cream. The mega-pies are definitely intended for the sharing, but there are individual pies as well, for all less ravenous, more realistic souls.
Just pizza then? There are starters and sides too. Formidable fried Nocellara olives, tender ball of gooey burrata paired caramelised black fig and cauliflower and Old Winchester arancini balls – an explosive pairing to limber up the taste buds.
Back to the main event: On our visit, our savoury wagon wheel arrived alongside gasps from just-arrived neighbours and utterances of “good luck.” The base is light and lean, the dough’s just been plucked from a 72-hour ferment and comes speckled with flavoursome charred dabs. The crust’s core is moist and spongy, laced with air-bubbles and encased in a delicately crisp shell.
And what was on the damn thing? On one half, wafer thin slices of silky aubergine lay on a bed of parmesan infused with chilli, garlic and a sweet cherry tomato base. The second half hosted crumbling goat’s cheese, its creaminess matched with gently caramelised red onion, and sprinkled in lashings of crispy kale. The ingredients are fresh and their combinations have been thoughtfully curated. We murmured our approval to our friendly waiter, attempting to plough through the second half of the gargantuan pie.
Anything else? They’ve got an impressive array of in-house brewed oils. Pick ya’ place on the flavour spectrum from garlic to smoky, hot to sweet chilli. Perfect to soak up with those spongy crusts.
And there was room for dessert? No, but there was a will and somehow a way. We angelically resisted the salted caramel tart and the fig-with-grappa tiramisu to stay within the realms of digestible possibly, by sticking to a sorbet and ice cream. A velvety white chocolate scoop was cut through with a sharp raspberry companion, as close to the real fruit a sorbet can get.
And the service: Great: the place was teeming with the excitement of a new opening, the operation staying slick as the place gradually filled up on a raining Monday night.
Do say: “Hands down, some of the best pizza in town.”
Don’t say: “I think I’ll just get a big one to myself.”