IT was a bit soggy bottom time to see no Manchester operator shortlisted in this year’s National Pizza Awards, won by some joint in Kensington. The kind of place Mary Berry – who famously confessed she’d never ordered a takeaway pizza – might finally get on the phone to for a 12in with extra pepperoni.
Of all a food critic’s daunting responsibilities, pizza judging might be the worst. We’ll rule the question of ‘pineapple chunks on your Hawaiian?’ out of competition. The key quandary may well be prove (sic) fat crust or thin crust?
Thin crusts are what Great British Pizza Company is all about along with immaculately sourced UK raw materials for its toppings. Telegraph critic Zoe Williams was so impressed by the two she wolfed at the Margate original she declared: “This is the best pizza I’ve ever had.”
It was also named as one of the world’s best pizzerias by international arbiter Where to Eat Pizza last year, alongside Manchester stalwarts Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza and Honest Crust (both favouring fatter Neapolitan or long-proved sourdough crusts).
So no pressure there then on a visit to the GBP’s first franchise outlet in West Didsbury. And yes, it sticks damn close to the winning formula created by chef Rachel Seed and journalist Lisa Richards, which has contributed hugely to the regeneration of Margate seafront (along with the little matter of the Turner Gallery). Even down to the £6 Margate-rita. Ouch.
Still it is good to see a card on my table referencing the local suppliers. Even the 00 flour used for the bases(mad out of house for them) is British. And we like the informality of this no fuss little venue at the end of the Lapwing Lane shopping parade. Grant Ashdown and Kally Shukla are from a fashion background and it shows in a kind of no fuss minimalism. A trio of wines on tap come by the glass or in 75cl (£16) carafes and there’s no cutlery proffered, so you eat the pizzas as finger food (made it a bit messy for ToM).
Oh yes, the pizza. Best ever? Or even as good as West Didsbury rivals Proove, whose 20-hour proved dough is unreservedly, overlapping the plate Neapolitan? We’ll be diplomatic – there’s a place for both styles.
We went for one of GPP’s more expensive variations – Bath Pig British Chorizo and Chilli (£9.50) with extra anchovies (a good salty move) on the insistence of Grant, accompanied by a a can of Beavertown Neck Oil Session IPA, so can’t report back on the wine.
The Chorizo, from a Bradford producer, and the chillis were lightly strewn across the crispiest of tomato-slicked bases, more akin to a Middle Eastern flatbread, an impression accentuated by the spicy kick.
I can quite see how Zoe got through two. They are incredibly light. There was no temptation to cut off the crusty ends. Still ordering a second to fill up is going to hit the wallet. The temptation’s there, though. Toppings such as pear and British blue cheese topping on a ricotta base (£8.50) are enticing.
Great British Pizza Co, 113 Lapwing Lane, West Didsbury, M20 6UR. This not a scored review because ToM didn't sample the range of food and drink on offer.