Coming across a pizza joint in Manchester’s Northern Quarter is no tough feat, but finding a decent, authentic pizzeria? Now there you have a challenge my friend.
First entering PLY, I felt hideously unhip (I mean…I am, but I try and disguise this where possible with fun jackets and the occasional hat). With no host or waiting area, I felt slightly at a loss at to what to do with myself, to wait or whether the tables were a “see it and sit” situation.
Feeling like my cool points were decreasing by the millisecond, I bagged myself one of the best tables on the upper level, overlooking the NQ from a large window. Having an optimum viewing point of the entire restaurant, I took in the large, artsy-space that was filled with low-level furniture overtaken by post-work drinkers and early-evening get togethers; their laughter and chatter contributing to the exciting air in the restaurant.
Settling in for a feed, me and my co-diner perused the menu as though we had not been stalking it online for the past 3 nights.
Whilst the setting and decor said Scandinavian, the menu was far from Ikea (although I am partial to a meatball and 99p hot dog from time to time…) We opted for the Portobello pizza and the Salami of the Week pizza to share with an order of the Octopus and Rocket Salad small plates for a little extra somethin’ somethin’.
Arriving all together a mere 20 minutes after ordering, our spread was set in front of us ready to be devoured.
Neither being one to mess about, we dove straight in, starting with the Octopus.
Now, I have to be honest, the Octopus plate held quite possibly THE best octopus I’ve eaten…ever. Whilst I’ve always been a fan of calamari, I have shied away from both squid and octopus in recent years due to the over-battered butchering following its immense popularity. Fearing a rough and rubbery consistency, I was in fact greeted by tantalising soft, slightly sweet meaty flavours that weren’t too dissimilar to the texture of lobster. Dressed with chopped new potatoes and a citrus, parsley sauce, it was a true treat and was gobbled down with gusto. A definite must-order when you go.
The pizza had arrived unsliced but with a cutter to allow us the pleasure. Now I both like and dislike this popular gimmick that many a pizzeria have adopted; on the one hand I really dig being able to manage my pizza distribution accordingly, but on the flipside when my pizza arrives – I’m ready to swoop for a slice, and this delay is non buono.
We charged through the dough with our cutters, ripping off slices desperate for a taste, and we weren’t disappointed.
For me, when it comes to pizza, simplicity is key, and that’s exactly what PLY serve up straight from their glass-tiled wood-fire ovens. Slice ripping, moreish, divine simplicity.
The fresh, light but powerful flavours smother themselves on top of the pillowy soft, flame kissed crust. Pools of baked mozzarella glisten in that gorgeously gooey way offering delicate flavours on top of a rich, plum tomato sauce. The oaky flavours of the mushrooms and luxurious drizzles of truffle oil added extra richness to each slice, total perfection from first bite to last.
The Salami of the Week pizza apparently featured an intriguing lemon and lime cured sausage, however these flavours went completely unnoticed by both me and my co-diner. Thankfully the only flavour we could taste was delicious, boldly seasoned salsicci; bellissimo!
Piled on the same handcrafted sourdough base, we indulged in the sharp yet comforting bites of basil and parmesan which complimented the crisped flavours of salami. A true slice of heaven with each portion, even the base’s inability to support the toppings as they began to drip down my hand was no cause for complaint; I simply rolled the soft base and enjoyed the impromptu calzone element to our dinner.
The Rocket Salad added welcomed fresh flavours to our carbalicious course. Tossed in light balsamic and lemon flavours, the thin shavings of nutty parmesan added a delicious decadence to the “healthy” option while the roasted hazelnuts (a pretty nutty idea I thought, but hey! It worked!) Gave a sweet kick to each bite.
Savouring the final crumbs from around my lips, I was pleased as punch that PLY had not only lived up, but surpassed my expectations as a pizza parlour with pzazz. An experience I would happily relive, PLY has its talented chefs to thank for creating a luscious menu that lives up to the lively ambience of the restaurant.
Overall, PLY offers the perfect hangout space for just about any occasion. While seeing red sauce drip from your dates chin is enticingly endearing, I would avoid for first dates purely due to the volume levels; it’s hard to get to know someone whilst trying to shout over lyrical geniuses that are House of Pain; but for late-night catch ups, mid-week lunches and not forgetting taking advantage of their daily Happy Hour…hour, this place is the one.
So go ahead! Grab a slice of the action, it’s most certainly stolen a pizza my heart.