Tag Archives: pizza

Where To Eat Pizza

Everyone knows that pizza is one of the most popular things to eat, now you can find out where the best pizza slingers can be found virtually anywhere in the world.

How?

Well, publishing group Phaidon have released a new book, aptly named Where To Eat Pizza, by author Daniel Young, the man responsible for the London Pizza Festival. Last year, I was kindly asked to contribute to the book with my recommendations for Leeds; I reckon it must’ve been my constant banging on about the great and good of the city that did the trick.

The book compiles the favourites of a whole host of food lovers from chefs, critics to bloggers like me. The result – a staggering 1700+ entries world-wide are listed, so pizza lovers out there will be hard-pressed to not find a decent slice or two!  For each city included there’s a map pinpointing each entry and a description of why it’s part of the list. 

  

To find out about my recommendations, or for the best places around the globe Where To Eat Pizza is available to buy now, both online and from all good book shops!! 

Shardana, Guildford 

You may’ve read in earlier posts of our need to search for a place to call our new home, all due to the fact that I’m moving south! So for a while we’ve been slowly trying to work out where we may want to live, not an easy task I’m sure you’ll agree. Last bank holiday weekend, May Day in fact we spent some time in Guildford, it’s somewhere we’ve been a few times and am just getting to know it a little. A wander around brought us to the top of Guildford’s pedestrianised High Street and also way passed lunchtime, the other half always says ’12 o’clock is lunch o’clock’ and it was gone 2pm. Along the way we’d noticed an Italian called Shardana, up one of the side streets, one moment for a quick internet search and our decision was made. From the bottom of the alley we could only early see the signage, but as we neared the top the place was much bigger than expected, much to my surprise.

  

The place has one large dining room with more of a modern interior, rather than a typical rustic Italian decor, we sat near the large windows. It wasn’t particularly busy as we’d arrive at 2:25pm and they stop lunch service at 3pm,  so we’d cut it a little fine. A couple of glasses of wine were ordered, and a quick perusal of the menu showed up familiar Italian fare; pasta (gluten free available on request), pizza as well as steak and seafood dishes.  All fairly reasonably priced, apart from dishes like rib-eye steak and sea bass that you might expect to be priced higher.  

After a suitable waiting time, a lasagne for me and a goats cheese pizza came our way. I love lasagne, the best I’ve ever had; in Rome with layers of silky soft pasta and THE best ragu, like the best homemade ones made by their grandmas. We’d gone for part of our honeymoon and one fond memory was watching a young boy eat the same lasagne, I say eat, but he literally wolfed it down in a few minutes, all while I was trying to savour every mouthful because it was just SO good. As far as Leeds goes, the best Lasagne, for me has to be at Livin’Italy which has many of the qualities that THE lasagne had in Rome, maybe the only difference was the occasion and our surroundings.

So how did this one fare in comparison? It was good, but didn’t quite hit the spot like those other two, the ragu not quite as luxuriously meaty and rich. However, it still made for a tasty lunch. 

  

The other half’s pizza looked massive, hanging off the plates edge it was that big. I like a pizza with a thin base, I’m not interested in deep pan, stuffed crusts or any of that nonsense!! I want a slightly crisp and golden crusts with the odd gnarly bit here and there, generous toppings, but without a stupid amount of cheese.

This had goat’s cheese, mozzarella, onions, chicken and chilli topping, now lets face it, it wasn’t the prettiest looking of things. The bit I tried without goats cheese, as I’m not a fan, was good, thankfully the chicken was moist and there was plenty of it. For goats cheese fans amongst us, it worked; the other half enjoyed it.   

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Overall, it was a good spot for lunch with friendly efficient service and reasonably priced. Away from the busyness of the High Street too, so I can imagine it as a decent place for dinner. 

Shardana

186 High Street`
Guildford
GU1 3HW

Shardana on Urbanspoon

Yammo!, Bath

If you’ve read my most recent post on Soya, you’ll know that apart from eating, a bit of the weekend was spent running as some friends and I had entered the Bath half marathon. Our accommodation for the weekend was a house we’d booked through AirBnB, about 10 -15 minutes walk north of the city. After the usual settling in period at the house, we walked into the centre and took in our surroundings, out of our party of five, three of us had never visited the city so it was nice to explore a little. Four of us were running and we’d all eaten an early breakfast, so by midday we were pretty ravenous, and as always carbs were the first thought on our minds. 

Everyone had assumed I had a list of places already researched to go, but on a rare occasion I didn’t, it was actually refreshing not to have done any work for it!! We weren’t after a posh restaurant or anything like that, but somewhere informal just to fill our stomachs and rest our legs before the big day. So after a quick internet search the place Yammo! popped up, an Italian diner which advertised itself as a Neapolitan street food kitchen and pizzeria – we thought it ticked all the boxes.

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Located on Walcot St very close to Pulteney Bridge, the place looked quite small and with all the tables occupied it seemed we’d be out of luck, but it was our lucky day as there were a couple of free tables upstairs. Initially unbeknownst to us the place had won awards the last couple of years; including best newcomer 2013, (Bath Good Food Awards), UK Best pizza chef 2014 for its Margherita pizza, (PAPA Industry Awards) and just a few days ago were named Best Restaurant at Bath Life Awards 2015.

Apart from pizza the menu has lots going for it, using as many local ingredients as possible they offer a choice of dishes including small plates, antipasti and burgers. So it was no surprise that we  ordered a broad selection of items, including a couple of pizzas (Margherita and a Diavola), one burger with extra salami, whilst myself and a friend wanted to share four small plates.

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Here are the pizzas (£9.95 and £10.95); I can’t comment on the pizzas myself, but as far as my friends there was praise aplenty for both. They weren’t the uber thinnest of bases, but it didn’t matter as the base was a tasty one with a bit of chew,  their toppings were kept simple and to good effect too.  

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The Margherita
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The Diavola with spicy salami

A side of crispy polenta (£3.75) were very moreish, again treated simply with some grated parmesan and a few salad leaves they were delicious. 

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Polenta fries

The burger (£13.95) belonged to the other half and he was pretty quiet on the other side of the table, meaning that he was happy and it was spot on I reckon!

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Italian Job burger with spicy salami

The four remaining dishes all came out at the same time, yes there was a lot of fried stuff, but most involved lots of carbs and it was exactly what we were after! All of them were excellent, the bolognese arancini (£5.75) were massive, perfectly golden, with a tasty ragu and risotto rice that was unctuously sticky and a stretchy mozzarella cheese centre. They were so so good!! Next up the potato croquettes (£4.95), again size here wasn’t an issue, there was lots of parsley, parmesan cheese, and when cutting into them soft, stretchy mozzarella cheese was on show. Third up the polpette a sugo (£7.25), on the menu it said they were based on ‘Nonna’s secret Neapolitan recipe, so surely they had to be good! Made with a mix of beef and pork these were perfect, soft in texture without falling apart, covered in a wonderful tomato sauce using San Marzano tomatoes. Last but by no means least the macaroni cheese frittatine (£4.95), now I’d never had it like this before, basically cubes of macaroni cheese with honey roasted ham running through it were deep-fried, so they had a golden cheese crust. Out of all of the these may have been my favourites out of four very good plates!!

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Arancini filled with bolognese
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Macaroni cheese frittatine
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Polpette a sugo
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Croquettes

If you’re in Bath at any point, you may be a local or just visiting like I was, then Yammo! is definitely worth a try! You’ll get some cracking food, decent service in informal surroundings at a reasonable price. 

Do you have any recommendations for Bath? I’d love to know which eateries are your favourites!

Yammo! 

66 Walcot Street,

Bath,

BA1 5BD

01225 938328

http://www.yammo.co.uk

The Black Swan, Call Lane, Leeds #2

Ok, a heartfelt apology first! I posted this earlier by accident, without it being properly finished, something I’ve done before when blogging on my phone! Trust me for not learning from my mistakes, then frustration set in when I couldn’t get onto the page to sort it out properly….ARGH!! Especially when I get an email about any confusion caused or due to an inadequate amount of information!! So BIG apologies if you read this earlier and was a little miffed?!

As regular readers know I do not usually accept free invitations to preview events, and stopped doing this months ago. However, on this occasion I went to one last week, as this venture had a link to other long-standing Leeds independent Sandinista.

People familiar with the Call Lane area of Leeds city centre will know it’s a street heavily laden with bars, well known spots such as Oporto and Jake’s amongst others have served Leeds folk well for years, mostly open till the early hours with loud music. My friends and I used to spend many an hour on Friday or Saturday nights in these bars ourselves, so I know from experience.

Of course there’s Arts Cafe and Rolands (love your pizza fritta) doing great things all day, but where Bar Room Bar once resided the place has been rejuvenated and joined these other establishments also opening throughout the day. Called The Black Swan and owned by Shane Quigley and Si Ord (Sandinista and Smokestack), it trying to offer something different to the norm in this part of town, where more often than not the usual clientele is on a night out. They’ve kept the old pizza oven and with the help of Anthony Flinn (of Anthony’s fame) who worked with Si Ord previously on Sandinista’s menu, they’re producing sourdough pizzas. If that wasn’t enough chefs drafted in from Crafthouse and Rare will serve more traditional fare, such as Sunday lunch from the upstairs kitchen. Being part of the Sandinista family, quality drinks are also on the table with craft ales, quality wines and great cocktails available. A nice touch is also their takeaway facility too. 

Here are some photos from my visit last week: 

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So what will you see on the pizza menu, all are made using sourdough which is freshly made every day on site. Left to prove for 24 hours allows its flavour to develop. Prices range from £5.95 – £8.95 and as always both vegetarians and carnivores sound spoilt for choice, such as Yorkshire blue cheese and basil for non-meat eaters. The carnivores amongst us will be pleased to hear they have some wonderful sounding pizzas gracing the menu, I have already picked out which I think may become my favourites – garlic, potato, thyme and lardo (£7.95), every bit of it sounds great, potato is an unusual ingredient on a pizza but it works, and I love the fatty/meaty richness of lardo!! Also the Yorkshire chorizo, roasted peppers and red pesto (£7.95) could be a go-er too! A lunch menu has a smaller number of pizzas, served with a mixed salad at £5.95 and they being a family friendly place, they have 6″ pizzas for little ones at £3.95. 

On the non-pizza front I’ll be interested to see if their Sunday lunch is up to scratch too.

This could definitely be a place to venture out to, whatever time of the day!

The Black Swan
37 Call Lane
LS1 6DT
https://www.facebook.com/blackswanleeds?fref=ts

Disclaimer: As I have stated above, I did attend a preview of the venue (this is a very rare occasion I may add and I won’t be making a habit of it).

Black Swan on Urbanspoon

Friday night bowling, burgers, subs and laughs @ Roxy Lanes, Leeds

A couple of Friday’s ago, the evening literally played itself out like a tale of two sittings!! It all began with a ‘quick’ curry after work in Wakefield, the intention was to have a starter or two, I really tried to stick to this, but inevitably it ended up becoming a full on curry, oops! A pretty decent one it was too. Then there was the small matter of a quick stop to see the latest Academy Alumni 2014, dressed in all their finery at the Year 11 Prom, it’s always a fantastic occasion seeing the students you teach looking all grown up and celebrating their 5 years becoming young adults. Unfortunately, it could only be a short visit as I’d unwittingly double booked myself and arranged to meet the girls for a catch-up. The plan was to meet at Roxy lanes for a bowling sesh, but stupidly in my haste forgot a much needed pair of socks, so after a quick detour (in the wrong direction) I finally got to our meeting place of Roxy Lanes in Leeds city centre.
Family, work and life in general had made this occasion a very long over-due catch up with my mates, and the older we get the more spread out these occasions become, so it was one I was really looking forward to. Yeah it was a Friday night, and I must admit that an evening of bowling, drinks and a burger wouldn’t normally be my evening of choice for a catch-up, but it made a refreshing change! 

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The location of Roxy Lanes is probably not the most obvious of choices, its entrance is a little unnoticeable being around the corner from Tesco, just off Park Row!

Once inside and up a set of stairs, you arrive into the venue to see an air of the semi-industrial, there’s neon and a street art vibe with four lanes for bowling. Lined up with bowling balls that resemble giant pool balls, we took great delight in having a go with the mahoosive ’15’ white ball which lit up in lots of different colours. I’m such a weakling I could hardly pick it up, let alone launch it down the lane and get a strike. Hey, nevermind it was all part of the fun!!

As we were probably a little giddy and excited, we weren’t observant enough to read the notices advertising their deals, we paid for 1 game (£8 each). Only later did we find out about said deals – drink & bowl – £10, mini eat, drink & bowl – £15 and mega eat, drink & bowl £20. Definitely worth another visit just to make the most of these deal I reckon.

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The plan for me was always to try out Roxy’s menu, and even though I’d had a full curry just a few hours earlier I still wanted to give it a shot! The team at Roxy have got a diner style menu with burgers, pizzas, and what they called grilled subs, more that a grilled panini and ale a selection of starters that would be great for sharing!

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After managing to squeeze in a quick game of bowling, we sat down for a feed. Roxy Lanes has pizza, burgers, grilled subs and a range of starters ideal for sharing. Three of us choose burgers and I went for a grilled meatball sub, all accompanied by cracked black pepper chips. 

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The staff were friendly and very helpful and waiting times for ordering and the food being brought to the table wasn’t overly long. On first appearances the portion sizes looked good and overall we were pretty pleased with our food.  My grilled sub was tasty enough, more like a panini but tasty all the sane! 

The impression we all got was that Roxy Lanes is the place you may go to at the start of the evening, where you can all meet, have a good laugh bowling, a few drinks and a bite to eat to line the stomachs, then head further into town to see what the rest of the evening has in store.
The price for our food (4 people) was £35.80.
I'd recommend Roxy Lanes!

Food: A reasonable choice of food, definitely worth using the deals if you are bowling and want to make an evening out of it!

Service: Pleasant service, decent waiting times.

Atmosphere: Good atmosphere, the place probably benefits from the lively action taking place on the bowling lanes. 

Roxy Lanes

1st Floor
The Podium
Bond St
Leeds
West Yorkshire
LS1 5BQ
0113 322 1781
http://www.roxylanes.co.uk/main-page/4584618104