Pizza Pandemic at Firebrand Pizza, Clerkenwell

25 Aug 2020

Monday nights aren’t usually the busiest in Central London, but my first trip into town during Covid was interesting to say the least – mandatory face masks meant that I trotted along on an empty train and tube, sweating behind my mask as I power walked up those seriously long escalators at Angel station to get to my destination. In my mind, that alone had worked off the calories for the pizza I was about to scoff!

Walking through the eerily quiet streets of Clerkenwell to get to my destination, I had a sudden sense that I was in some sort of zombie apocalypse movie, and in true movie style, I saw a glimmer of a halo around my destination as I walked towards a majestic looking building. Housed in an old Victorian bank, the Clerkenwell site is full of light thanks to the large arched windows throughout. After working up a sweat, and an appetite, dining al fresco had to be done. By now, I was in full movie mode in my head. Although I’d moved on from zombie apocalypse to closing my eyes, feeling the sunshine on my face and imagining I was in Naples looking out at the sea! The wafts of pizza definitely helped with that illusion!

Popping inside to freshen up, it’s hard to miss the sleek bar with metal finishes at the centre of the restaurant. Pops of colour from the blue and yellow interior and outside seating instinctively gave it a Scandi feel but then I noticed the open kitchen and wood fired pizza oven, and I was instantaneously transported back to my Italian dream.

To start we shared, Burrata with traditional Sicilian Caponata (£8) and arancini (£7.50) which oozed with meaty, cheesy goodness. In my opinion you cannot go wrong with a good cheese starter (in fact I could eat cheese with every stage of the meal, and in this case I did!) but the caponata vegetables alongside the creamy burrata was a great touch.

Pizzas are the star of the show as you would guess from the restaurant name, so after a long debate due to too many favourable options, we doubled up on meat and went for the Spianata Calabrese Salami, spicy salami, caramelised onion, mozzarella and tomato sauce (£13) – spicy with a hint of sweetness, and very, very moreish.

The pizzas here are cooked in a wood fired oven and use Sourdough proved for over 72 hours, Caputo flour, Fior de Latte mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes for the sauce, all from Naples; which is undisputedly the home of the best pizzas!

We also devoured a King prawn and lemon risotto (£13) to balance out the meat, and, well because it sounded too good not to try! It had the perfect balance of acidity blended with the creamy, but slightly crunchy risotto, and was topped with super juicy prawns making for a mighty fine main course.

After stuffing our faces, I couldn’t find room for dessert (very unusual for me!) but thankfully my friend ordered the Tiramisu (£6) and allowed me to have a spoon or three! We’d heard good things and were not disappointed as we tucked into luscious layers of creamy mascarpone, chocolate and coffee-soaked sponge.

Basking in the sunshine, catching up with my friend, laughing the night away and stuffing our faces with good food – it almost felt like life was back to ‘normal’. Thank you, Firebrand pizza for transporting me back to a sense of normality and filling my belly with goodness!

The Clerkenwell site opened at the beginning of the year, but due to Covid has not had as many visitors yet as it deserves, so if you are craving some good Italian grub, I highly recommend supporting them – you won’t be disappointed.

Clare D’Silva

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