Pizza to the power of Pi has landed in Bristol, and
wasted no time in going to check it out…
Noticed how it’s kicking off on the local pizza scene of late? New restaurants dedicated to the stone-baked snack are popping up at a rate of knots –
in the old Mud Dock Deli; the second
at Cargo; an additional
Flour and Ash
at the former Casamia… And that’s just in Bristol; Bath has its newbies too, and all on top of our already-generous helping.
There’s one in particular, though, that’s proved especially intriguing. The Casamia team announced plans for
a few months ago (although it’s been in the making for years), and have been busily developing it in the background since moving the flagship restaurant in January. (Yep,
imagine they’ve been bloomin’ busy as well – and they’re not even finished yet, with Paco Tapas set to launch imminently too.)
The new pizza parlour is a fond nod to Casamia’s original guise as an Italian trattoria dishing up traditional pizzas. It is, however, a very different beast (well, obvs). Pi Shop is uber-casual, for starters. It’s walk-in-friendly (in fact, it doesn’t take bookings at all); the cheery staff are dressed casually; napkins and cutlery are stashed in wire pots on the tables for you to help yourself; and seating comes in the form of wooden benches and tables. So, yeah, don’t rock up expecting a Michelin-style feast here.
That said, there
several parallels to the original Sanchez venue – look in the right places and you’ll see it smacks of the same team. There’s the cool, clean and classic décor (think white walls, sleek, faded wood and plenty of copper); the on-point service that manages to be entirely casual while still setting an imposing bar for the most formal of restaurants; the calm and intriguing open kitchen; and the bold menu, with both intelligence and a sense of humor.
Bold how? Well, it doesn’t beat around the bush when it comes to the offering – it’s pizza or nothing. There’s no token alternative. There
three optional extras, though, in case you’re as greedy as us: a Severn Project side salad (£3), olives (£3), and a really great-quality charcuterie board (£12), with gorgeous cured meats, moreish cheeses, tiny pickled onions, and soft and sweet sundried tommies.
The pizzas – which are made intentionally and comfortingly sloppy, with thick sauce and thin bases – are split into two categories: classic and speciality. The former is where you’ll find the margheritas, meat feasts and Hawaiians, while the latter is all about inventive toppings like carbonara (a tomatoless version topped with coppa, Parmesan and Cacklebean egg yolk), and beetroot with ewe’s curd and mustard frills. There’s even a number topped simply but decadently with 36-month-aged Parmesan and real truffle shavings. At £30, there’s a confident take-it-or-leave it air about it.
The JR (£10.50 – with £1 per sale donated to the Karen Clifford Skin Cancer Charity, in honor of Jonray) was a muddle of black olives, anchovies and fresh basil, amongst which was dolloped creamy mozzarella. The anchovy fillets – punchy in flavour and super-delicate in texture – were almost dissolved into the topping, while the suitably puffy crust tasted pleasingly smoky. Dark, crisp bubbles had surfaced around the puffy edges during its time in the sexy copper pizza oven, which is on full show.
The 18-hour-cooked lamb, pickled cucumber and mint yoghurt number (£12) was a proper class act. The tender lamb chunks pulled apart in soft strips, and were balanced by the cool, pokey freshness of the cucumber, and dribbles of tangy yoghurt. It was like a Greek taverna and an Italian pizzeria had fallen in love, moved to Bristol, and created a beautiful child together.
Dessert options total at one. Silky smooth soft-serve ice cream (£3.50) came swired in a glass with plenty of fruity, natural-tasting strawberry sauce, and a considered scattering of tiny fresh tarragon leaves.
The same brown-paper menus also list the drinks: there are really reasonably priced cocktails (try the uber-handsome Negroni), local beers (from the likes of Wiper and True and Left Handed Giant), and a very concise selection of wines, available by the glass.
You can tell by Pi Shop’s food that it’s fully aware that it’s in Bristol, as opposed to Naples – and it wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. The chefs seem to focus purely on the best in ingredients, flavour and texture, and simply serve whatever the resulting pizza is – no messing. We like their attitude.
, The General, Lower Guinea Street, Bristol BS1 6SY; 0117 925 6872