Restaurant Review: Firebrand Pizza, Clerkenwell, London

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Whenever I order a pizza, I say a little prayer that it won’t be a disappointment. Sure, this flat circle of dough, topped with tomato sauce, melted cheese and whatever else the imagination allows, is not supposed to be a gastronomic dish, but it should have some pizzazz and in my experience, they are often mediocre at best

In my view, a pizza should be crispy enough for a satisfying bite yet soft on the inside with flavoursome toppings for a gratifying chew.

So on my way to Firebrand Pizza one long, heady, sunny evening, I muttered a small invocation and made my way in.

Ambience

The building looked handsome with its Baroque elements on the corner plot at the end of Rosebery Avenue. It was still bright and sunny that evening and perhaps unsurprisingly, the outside tables had already been nabbed. With overhead heaters, cushioned seating and canopies, the alfresco space looked like an inviting place to dine.

So we took our place inside. This is a spacious zone with comfy cushioned chairs in pleasant surroundings. This is also where the hybrid wood/gas oven takes centre stage and it was fun t watch the chef at work.

Food & Drink

While we waited for the garlic and oregano marinated tomato bruschetta, mixed olives and arancini (rice balls stuffed with Mozarella cheese), a plate of dough sticks arrived with a  balsamic vinegar dip. All well-executed.

Then came the pizzas.

Buffalo Mozarella added after cooking and anchovy, olives and capers

My partner went for anchovy, olives, capers, tomato sauce and mozzarella pizza. I spotted a Buffalo Mozzarella pizza which came with the cheese placed on top of the pizza in clumps after it is cooked.

We watched as they were being made. This is what we saw – note how my pizza was topped only with tomato sauce:

Both turned up slightly crispy – though my partner would have preferred his to have a little more crispiness. The dough tasted great, and what we couldn’t finish, we took home.

I was keen to find out the secret to their dough. Co-owner Guy Holmes explained:

The secret to the pizza, is sourdough left to prove for 72 hours made with Caputo Flour from Naples. That’s the optimum time to develop the sourdough taste and make it easy to digest. The tomato sauce on the pizzas is made from San Marzano tomatoes, again from Naples, as is our 100% Fior Di Latte Mozzarella. Our oven is wood fired and all ingredients have been carefully sourced from specialist Italian producers to ensure the highest quality.

Though best known for its pizzas, the Firebrand menu offers pasta, steaks, seabass and chicken dishes.

There’s a handful of desserts, and of course, we chose a pretty decent Tiramisu.

There is a small wine list, some cocktails (we went for gin and tonic) and a selection of interesting beers.

Verdict:

These pizzas did indeed have some pizzazz. These were as close as you can get to an authentic Pizza eaten in Rome.

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