Pizza Pop – the Neapolitan pizzeria, with draft ‘Prosecco’
How many speciality pizzerias are there in Brighton? I haven’t the time to count them all but off the top of my head, there’s definitely at least 10. A new addition to this crowded space is Pizza Pop just off the London Road. I say new but it actually opened back in May this year.
A warm welcome
Pizza Pop’s owner isn’t Italian himself but his executive chef Ivan Molnar has worked in the business for 10 years and brings with him his Neopolitan family pizza and calzone recipes.
My visit to review was precisely two weeks ago around 8pm on a Friday night. There was a chill in the air as the summer was long gone and autumn had made itself at home. Upon entering the pizzeria with my family we all commented on how toasty it felt, the reason why became clearer when I spotted the large wood-fired pizza oven kicking out heat at the back of the room.
With the decor, a mixture of 50s photographs, vintage rugs, silk flowers, newspaper print sofa seats and candelabras it had traces of eccentricity but it made for a very inviting atmosphere.
After we’d finished soaking up the eclectic surroundings, we were ready for drinks. Being all out of Italian red wine that meant the prosecco 1754 on draft was the next best option. Served in a carafe it was of medium dryness, which isn’t my preference and unfortunately, there was more fizz than flavour in the wine. At £17.50 I would also rather a bottle with a cork!
The carpaccio and burrata were all sold out that evening too (did they forget I was coming?) so to start, we resolved to share a mixed plate of Italian meats and cheese – £12. As it turned out though, the limited menu was a gift since the meats and cheeses were the standouts of the evening.
Included on the mixed platter were two types of Italian ham – a smokey prosciutto de cotto (cooked) and a sweet and salty prosciutto crudo (uncooked), parmesan and creamy ricotta cheese, Italian fungi, rocket and super sweet tomatoes.
I tend to think you need bread and oil with these sorts of platters so after realising none came with our order we requested a basket of Italian bread – £3.50. A generous portion came quickly and warmed straight from the wood-burning pizza oven behind us.
Although I don’t mind that bread wasn’t included in the price of the platter, for the benefit of future diners I would recommend the staff point this out to the guests when they place their order.
Pizzas with promise
For mains, I went for the calzone and my parents ordered the barbacoa pizza and a caesar salad. Again, they were out of an ingredient, so the chicken on the salad had to be replaced with buffalo mozzarella. There was a drizzle of balsamic on the top but it really needed the chicken and caesar dressing that it was designed to have to make it interesting.
The barbacoa pizza was topped with chicken, bacon and a barbecue salsa sauce – so not at all authentically Italian but Dad was happy with it and the portion was also large enough that he had leftovers take home.
The calzone showed promise, with a strong, tangy sourdough folded over and packed full of pretty much all the same meats and cheese on my starter plate plus some mushrooms. I just found it a tad dry and having been to Naples over the summer (and one of its best pizzerias [Sorbillo] in the city), I would say it was also a little light on sauce inside the pie.
Of course, depending on where you are in Italy the pizza style will differ but my experience in Naples this year was a sloppier pizza that the locals roll up and eat with their fingers. That’s really what I was hoping would be the experience here. Instead, it felt more like a Roman style of pizza, crisper and lighter on the tomato – nothing wrong with that but not my favoured style.
Full as we were, we accepted the offer of a dessert of fresh fruit and whipped cream and we were glad we did. The dessert was absolutely perfect, very light, very fresh and ending our dining on a high.
Rating: Must Go | Worth A Try | Give It A Miss
Pizza Pop has potential if it can just tidy up some of its rough edges and have more of the menu available. If you’re a student or a parent then it’s somewhere you need to know about as there’s a generous 15% discount on offer and kids eat for free. There’s no gluten-free option currently, although according to the website that’s coming. All things considered, it’s worth a try.
44-45 Baker St,
What do you think about a number of pizza restaurants in Brighton? Is it all getting too much or is there room for more? Leave me a comment below and let me know what you think.
*Disclosure: I was invited to review Pizza Pop but this does not have any bearing on my review, which will always be an honest account of the whole experience.