Thick, thin, deep dish, sourdough, stuffed with tiny hamburgers – as London’s hunger for good quality, artisanal pizza shows no signs of abating, the humble crust is getting just as much airtime as the ingredients on top.
Dough was the subject of much discussion at the launch of Panzo, the brand new Neapolitan-style pizzeria that opened in the heart of Exmouth Market earlier this month, but not for reasons you might think.
Chefs combine rice, soy, wheat and sourdough flours and leave to rise a whopping 26 hours before double cooking it as individually-sized bases in a process inspired by the panuzzo; a Nepalese pizza sandwich made famous by the Manzi brothers.
The result is a light, crispy vessel that the average pizza lover is unlikely to wax lyrical about. This leaves plenty of room to talk toppings – exactly what founder Anna Skigin and her partners were hoping for.
“I noticed that so many pizzas in London focus more on the dough over the ingredients and flavours on top,” Anna says.
“I wanted to create a pizza that wasn’t so heavy without compromising on flavour, concentrating on the ingredients and produce used.”
These flavours take shape in a carefully curated menu of six options, ranging from the Maggie: roasted tomatoes and mozzarella to the Mikey: onion confit and Italian sausage, plus a daily special allowing for experimentation.
The Luchino, a particularly punchy combination of ventricina, nduja and mozzarella and fresh chilli was good enough to wish for gluttony, rather than Panzo’s more moderate individual serving sizes. The Easy V: a pumpkin base, grilled aubergine and courgette was enjoyable for a vegan option but something was missing – “cheese,” my friend remarked. Well, can’t fault them for that omission.
Starters include terrifically simple salads – burrata and cherry tomatoes is the perfect palette cleanser – and charcuterie boards that let the quality of the produce shine through.
Clerkenwell’s lunch crowds could well be tempted away from the regular food stalls lining Exmouth Market with the addition of a charred whole wheat panuzzo stuffed with various fillings.
And, if that doesn’t do it, the window full of individual pizzas dressed with fresh, colourful toppings certainly will; an image that puts the ‘art’ in ‘artisanal’, beginning with the perfect canvas.