I love pizza. Like, I loooooove pizza. Hence Pizza Pilgrims has been high on my hit-list for some time. However, every time I fancy pizza I shame-fully/lessly find myself returning to Homeslice. But, having reviewed Franco Manca, it really was about time that I paid Pizza Pilgrims a visit too. So imagine my complete & utter elation when an invite from Zomato popped into my Inbox, inviting me to be a #PizzaGod for an evening (a title that I’ve become rather attached to), and assist in the tough challenge of picking Pizza Pilgrim’s October Pizza of the Month.
By FAR the best invitation that I have ever received…
So much love for the personalisation, although I’m not 100% sold on smoothies & steak on pizza; maybe Pizza Pilgrims’ daring chefs can test it out for me and invite me back for another tasting. No? Oh, okay.
Ten food-loving bloggers all gathered to attention as James, our lovely host for the evening, began to tell us about the five different pizzas that we would be sampling and the kind of feedback that they were looking to receive, i.e. what aspects we liked/loved, and what we thought could be improved on.
First up for the royal taste test was ‘The Mellow Yellow’ (by Dario), which consisted of a saffron-infused ricotta, fried courgette, provola & Parmesan bread crumb topping. It was a ‘white-base’ pizza, meaning that it doesn’t have any tomato sauce, which is something that I’ve always been adverse to in the past, but it’s safe to say that the Mellow Yellow has fully converted me, as this pizza turned out to be my favourite of the night!
The fried courgette still had bite, the ricotta provided a tangy, creamy sweetness, and the Parmesan bread topping provided the perfect amount of textural crunch. I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed this pizza, but I guess that’s the beauty of trying new things! Generally, it received a big thumbs-up, with the only comment for improvement being that the saffron needed to be added a little more liberally for the flavour to really come through.
James even taught us the ‘proper’ way to eat a Pizza Pilgrims pizza; you start to pull out your slice, crease the two edges together, and then flick the tip up & over, to create a little pizza parcel (preventing any delicious topping from slithering off your thin piece of dough). I can’t say that I did it quite as skillfully as James but, in my defence, he has had a lot more practice!
Not part of the competition was the classic margherita, provided to “keep us going” in between…. ya know, just in case we got hungry.
Although we weren’t actually asked to judge it, I couldn’t help but offer my two cents and recommend improving the tomato sauce; it was very runny & rather bland, which James explained to be as a result of the fact that they simply pulverise good quality tomatoes with a touch of seasoning for “authenticity”. Personally, I think it could do with being jazzied up and reduced with some other vegetables to achieve greater depth of flavour, but then I never order margherita, nor was I asked to comment, so who am I to complain?!
One thing that I will give Pizza Pilgrims due credit for is the quality of their dough. MY GOD. It’s perfect. Like, actually, perfect. The crust was easily my favourite part of the pizzas, which I suppose is both a compliment and an insult (in fairness, the pizza toppings that we tasted were a little ‘out there’), but it is the most difficult & most important part to master – AND it meant that I got to chow down the pyramid of abandoned crusts left over at the end to my gluttonous heart’s content.
The group favourite, and my second favourite, was ‘Zucca, I am your Father’ (by Fabio), made with a pumpkin puree base, and topped with rosemary, provola & pancetta. The flavours were all right, but the amount of wet topping saturated the delicate dough, ruining my favourite element and making it a sloppy mission to eat. The rosemary worked fantastically with the sweet pumpkin and salty pancetta, but the meat needed to be fried before being baked, so as to give it a crisp texture and render the fat properly. With a few tweaks, this would have been my favourite too and, since it is going to be launched as the October Pizza of the Month on October 5th, I am going to be sure to pop my head in and see what they’ve done with it. I have faith that it is going to be very bloody good!
The third pizza for us to try was ‘Bumblebee-Tuna’ (by Giada), which comprised a normal margherita pizza topped with tuna, sweetcorn, black olives, sliced red onion, parmesan & basil. Sooo, I don’t want to be too harsh, but this is the exact pizza that I once made in a Year 9 Food Technology class, which is what I also told James on the evening. Personally, I think it’s quite insulting to serve (probably half) a 30p can of tuna on a restaurant pizza, but that may just be me. Let’s just say that there was an overwhelming number of slices left over…
However, that didn’t stop me from having a jolly good time with my dear Scottish lass Lauren, who I always have a barrel of laughs with.
Number four was ‘Sausage & Mash’ (by Alessio), which I think we can all agree is an interesting topping choice for a pizza. A meal on a meal. Carb on carb. It had a white-base with Italian fennel salsiccia, onion & porcini gravy, mashed potato, basil & parmesan. The sausage was delicious, truly delicious, and was well complemented by the basil and parmesan. However, the large dollops of mashed potato? Not so much, as it just added mushy texture with no flavour.
Some loved it just as it was.
Whilst some of us recommended removing the mash entirely, or at least frying the potato ‘rosti-style’ before adding it to the pizza to give it some crunch. A finishing drizzle of truffle oil would also go down a treat, in my opinion.
Last, and very much least, was ‘The P.L.T.’ (by Matteo), who shamed himself by calling his creation a pizza. What he produced was a salad on dough; provola & porchetta, romaine lettuce & sliced beef tomatoes, to be exact. None of us liked this ‘pizza’, with it becoming subject to a picking massacre of everyone nibbling at various bits of veg, cheese and ham, whilst I (gladly) hoovered up all of the dough.
Unbeknown to me, Pizza Pilgrims make their own limoncello, which James very kindly shared with us to round off an epic evening of over-eating (fabulous dough) and a lot of laughs.
However, little Miss Piggy had heard that a wondrous thing by the name of ‘Nutella pizza ring’ featured on Pizza Pilgrims’ dessert menu, which I simply could not leave without trying.
James generously brought out two rings for us to delve into, and the look of anticipation on all of our faces as Honey made the first incision was pure brilliance, and sums up why I love fellow food bloggers oh so much.
Everyone knows that bread and Nutella are a match made in heaven. But stepping up that classic combo with Pizza Pilgrims dough, and adding ricotta to the filling, is simply pure genius. The ricotta added a hint of creamy, sweet saltiness to the chocolate, and the taste of the two combined was quite literally what my dreams are made of. An absolutely stellar dessert. (Can this be my favourite pizza?)
All in all, a fabulous & fun evening. A HUGE thanks to James, Pizza Pilgrims and Zomato for making me a #PizzaGod for the evening life. It’s safe to say that I will be returning to Pizza Pilgrims pronto, and can’t wait to try BOTH a more conventional pizza (‘black pepper salami’, I’m looking at you) AND the October pizza of the month, ‘Zucca, I am your Father’, which I have no doubt will have been refined to a T. Homeslice, you’ve got competition.