I’ve had a lot of recommendations for Pizza 500, the little Italian joint on Preston Road in Brighton, so I thought it about time I popped along to review it. If you don’t know where it is, it’s right on the outskirts of Brighton, beneath the illuminated arches of the viaduct on the edge of Preston Park.
On the website the restaurant describes its offering as: “Authentic Italian traditional cuisine… using only the freshest and finest ingredients, wherever possible we make all our products and dishes, treating you with the best in traditional Italian cuisine.”
Because I’d heard such good things from several people (including an Italian), I sent my parents off there a few weeks ago without having tried it myself. They had an amazing meal that night and were particularly enamoured with the grilled pork loins. Apparently the pork was so good that my dad actually convinced two people on the table next to him to try his dish… don’t ask me why… too much Prosecco?
Unfortunately, when I came to visit last Saturday, the experience wasn’t as good and I was left disappointed.
To kick off I ordered a small Calzone Picante – £3 with spicy sausage, mozzarella and tomato sauce, dad went for the small Calzone – £3.50, which is a milder version of the Picante without the spicy sausage and Mum had the Insalada Di Mare – £5.
Both calzones were great, crispy on the outside and generously stuffed with cheese, tomato and ham. My dish also had a wicked kick of spice to it. Mum didn’t rate her seafood salad though, expecting it to come with a mixture of seafood not just squid. The squid was also very firm, so not a dish she’d order again.
Next up was gnocchi with tomato sauce – £6, the potato dumplings were soft and freshly made, but the dish was let down by the bright orange sauce which tasted too much like tinned Heinz tomato soup and not like the wonderful, sweet tomato passata I was expecting from somewhere that cooks ‘homemade Italian’.
We also shared the Pasta Spinach & Gorgo – £6 which was described as containing double cream, gorgonzola and spinach. The penne pasta was served in the traditional Italian style, al denté, and the sauce was spectacularly cheesy, but the double cream seemed to have been forgotten from this dish and that let it down.
Onto mains and more starters. We ordered the Fiorentina pizza with spinach and egg – £7.50, grilled pork loin steak – £6 and the Peperonata which was stir-fried potatoes and peppers – £3. The only stand out dish here was the pork which was simply grilled but tender and juicy. The Peperonata was fried in far too much oil and as a result it was greasy and soggy. With regards to my pizza, there was a strange twang to the spinach which I couldn’t put my finger on and as the pizza was covered with it, it ruined the whole thing for me. My egg yolk was also overcooked.
My personal preference with pizza is a pillowly, doughy based, rather than a super thin, crispy one and this pizza was the latter. If you’re into that then you may disagree with me on the pizza front. That’s fine though, each to their own.
Mum and Dad somehow had room for a gelato – £2 per scoop, but I was fed up with disappointments and went without. There was nothing to complain about with the ice cream, which was a relief.
I don’t know if we just chose all the poorest dishes on the menu or if was just a bad day in the kitchen, but I had expected so much more. A positive though was that the table service was friendly and attentive. If you want to try it out for yourself you’re probably safe with a pizza or calzone, especially if you’re into a crispy base, but I would encourage you to go for the pork which was the best dish by a mile.
If you’re more into your pillowly pizza bases then visit Fatto A Mano, just five minutes down the road from Pizza 500, or VIP Pizza in the centre of town. Both of which you can read reviews of on my blog.
PRICE: £48 for 3 people (not including drinks)
RATING: 2/5 – based on this visit