Best Part: The Other Pizza
Another week, another pizza restaurant with another lunchtime deal. This one is dearer than L’Italiana, though, with pizza and a salad coming in at £9.95. If I’m brutally honest I could have done without the salad, but as it effectively cost negative £1 I went for it. Another key point of difference to L’Italiana was that whilst they were fit to bursting with diners Jamie seemed to be unable to convince many people to take a chance on his pizzas. The emptiness was aggravated by the great distance between tables and the high, echoing ceilings, so it felt somewhat like dining in a Victorian station in the early hours of the morning.
We have reviewed this space and this gurning mockney before when it was Jamie’s Deli, and the emptiness and the epic trek to the toilets remain the same, even if the menu is slightly less interesting in a town already fairly well serviced for pizza. The options were limited but not in a way that made you struggle to find something you wanted, more that it spared you the agonies of indecision that can strike in some venues. I ordered a meatball pizza, as it contained both meatballs and pizza and thus should be a slam dunk.
When it arrived (and it took longer than you would expect from a restaurant with no competing patrons and a limited menu) I very quickly noticed that something was missing. A pizza at its most basic comprises a base, tomato sauce and cheese. There was no doubting the first two but I really had to squint to make out the cheese. I should not complain as the menu does specify that it featured parmesan, and there were a few flecks here and there, but to my mind mozzarella is such an integral part of a pizza that it should be assumed. If a pizza menu failed to mention a base I would still feel entirely justified at not being best pleased if I was presented with a squidgy mess of tomato and cheese only. After the initial disappointment the pizza was fairly disappointing, with a burnt base and sporadic toppings. When the waiter asked us how our meal was it was all I could do to make a vaguely positive grunting noise. Mrs Midweek lunch however was very happy with her Mushroom pizza. The base was perfectly thin and crispy and the topping was a really imaginative slant on a pizza standard. As well as ordinary mushrooms it was drizzled with a sort of creamy truffle tasting sauce. I thought it was revolting but I’m glad she was happy.
The financially beneficial salad was also a bit of a let-down. I ordered rocket and parmesan, a dish that usually delivers great flavour hits despite being largely greenery. When it is done well, peppery fresh leaves and great shaves of parmesan with a slight tangy balsamic undertone, it can be almost as good as a dish featuring meat. In this case, though, rocket was in the minority in a collection of leaves reminiscent of a supermarket bag that had been left open for too long. Once again the cheese was present as the faintest of accent flavours, far less noticeable than the strange grittiness. We were left wondering whether Old Mother Hubbard was in the kitchen realising that the cupboard was bare of parmesan save for a tiny crust. In a panic all they could do was make the most of it and give each diner 2g each. Here’s another idea – they could have been honest and asked us to make another choice.
The waiter was as absent as the other clientele when it came to bill-paying time, which meant I had to dash back to work and leave my wife to cover it. On the plus side the range of beers was OK, though mine tasted slightly stale on arrival. Finally, I spilt tomato sauce down my shirt and was roundly mocked on my return to work, though I can’t really blame Jamie for that one.
I really cannot think why you would want to visit Jamie’s pizzeria, unless you had been turned away from L’Italiana, Cosa Nostra was too much of a walk and you had an aversion to restaurants that begin with the letter ‘Z‘. In that situation I would almost recommend going to Pizza Go-Go. At least you would get some cheese there.
On the whole this has been the worst dining experience of our entire blogging career.