SO what makes the perfect pizza? The Neapolitans seem to have it down to a fine art and it’s reassuring to discover that Proove on Burton Road, West Didsbury is steeped in that tradition.
The pizzas at Proove, whose original restaurant is in Sheffield, tick all the topping boxes – San Marzano tomatoes, Fior di Latte mozzarella and fresh basil plucked straight from the pot. Cured meats? That spicy nduja salumi or San Daniele, superior prosciutto. They are all there.
But the proof (sic) of true authenticity is all about the dough. It has to be from 00 grade Caputo flour and slow proved for a minimum of 20 hours. It has to be hand-stretched and cooked to perfection in a wood-fired oven. The crust must be ‘cornicione leopardo’ (the crust with little black spots) and it simply must be topped toperfection with the highest quality ingredients. The result is 12 inches of pizza perfection winging your way.
A mosaic tiled oven is the centrepiece of all the new wave pizzerias, but Proove has that extra edge of expertise. Indeed the whole place has a sleek appeal from its open frontage onto Burton Road to the abstract ziz zag walls and the dangly copper light fittings inside.
Less than a year in situ it fits the neighbourhood like a glove. Why, they even boast local brewery Burton Road on draught in a drinks offering packed with classic Italian cocktails (Negroni, Bellini, Martini) and an impressive array of regional wines. Savour the Aglianico Rocco del Dragone (£6 a glass, £23 a bottle), beautiful dark fruit with added oak and the tiniest hint of bitterness. It’s from Campania, the hinterland of Naples, naturally. For a really special night out try the Franciacorta – Italy’s most stylish Prosecco.
And the pizzas? You are spoilt for choice. We are torn between the spicy San Daniele (£11,50), featuring the superlative ham of that name alongside co-stars San Marzano tomato sauce and the cow’s milk Fior di Latte mozzarella. Both feature again as the backdrop to the spicy nduja and fennel salami atop the Diavolo (£11.20).
In this season to be merry a good introduction to a menu encompassing a mouthwatering array of Italian comfort food is Proove’s three course Christmas Menu. For £23 a head you choose between two Antipasti – crab arancini and prawns in pastella (lightly battered) or the veggie option of artichoke arancini and verdure pastella.
Then you have a choice of any pizza on the menu, followed either sugar-coated chocolate gnocchi with a Nutella dip or Tartine de Natale, where a cinnamon and clove custard accompanies a traditional Panettone bread pudding. Add a some fizz of a festive cocktail for just a further fiver. Well, the Italians do love their Christmas treats.
Proove, 160 Burton Road, West Didsbury, Manchester, M20 1LH. Tel: 0161 669 9061. Christmas parties catered for.