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Best of three: Proper Italian pizza

Forget those chewy, stodgy crusts that you save for the dog, and deep pan offerings. Good pizza these days is all about blazing coal fired ovens, skinny, crispy bases and delectable fresh ingredients

Published on January 14th 2010.


Best of three: Proper Italian pizza

What is it about pizza? It's been around forever so is there anything new to say about it? Aha, yes, because now it's going back to its roots.

Gone are the thick, heavy Chicago-style offerings, thundering onto your table, weighed down by glistening brown and yellow cheese slicks, cooked ham and pineapple rings.

Today, any chef who knows their onions or, indeed, their olives, is serving authentic Napoli numbers that take just 90 seconds to cook and not much longer to devour. It's all about fresh and ever more interesting toppings and the thinnest of crispy bases, from a woodfired oven, all rustic, hot and yielding... We wanted to see if three of the city's most popular pizza places were keeping up.

Quattro Stagioni (£7.20), Casa Italia, Stanley Street, Liverpool 2 0151-227 5774

What's on top? It's called a four seasons, but Vivaldi would have got a surprise. Mushrooms, ham, prawns and clams, with the odd slice of pepper and chilli.
Does it work? Only in a Lilliputian way. This was the smallest pizza, about 10in diameter. The cheese, scorched brown in large areas, was covered in proportionately tiny prawns and shelled clams, plus an unremarkable sprinkling of the rest.
What about the crust? Thin enough, but too uniform and soft and lacking that authentic continental texture. A disappointment from one of the city's oldest and most famous pizzerias. 4/10. Rethink time.

Quattro Stagioni, (£7.95) Il Forno, Duke Street, Liverpool 1
0151 709 4002

What's on top? Tomato and Mozzarella topped by ham, mushrooms, olives and artichokes. All the ingredients of a classic four seasons, in fact, each element occupying its own quarter of the 12in+ base.
Does it work? The ingredients are all very fresh and authentic, with big slices of Parma ham and the other elements coming in spadefuls. Served with perfect timing from Il Forno's centrepiece fire-breathing mask oven.
What about the crust? The base, while light and even textured, needed to be just a bit thinner and crispier to tick all our boxes, but you probably won't hear many people complaining.. 7.5/10. Top of the toppings

WINNER: Pizza American (£8.95) Olive Press, Castle Street, Liverpool 2 0151 227 2242

What's on top? Olive Press has a brick fired oven and children can delight in creating their own pizza concoctions which are then sent to the stone baked furnace. Spicy chorizo, fresh tomatoes, Mozzarella, salami and red onions topped this one, the most expensive we tried.
Does it work? Very well. Generous on the stretchy cheese while all the other toppings contrasted well on flavour and were fresh and tasty.
What about the crust? A smattering of charcoal dust on the underside, baked rapidly to give tiny pockets of air that create that wafer thin effect. Result: The crispiest and lightest of foundations, which just tipped it into top place.
8/10. Ace of base.

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24 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Mr. I. TyeNovember 6th 2007.

The missus told me that Il Forno is an authentic Italian experience: it is noisy with rude staff and high prices. Authentic indeed! How we laughed!

Paul PaulsNovember 6th 2007.

I remember Quo Vadis. I was extremely drunk when I ate pizza in there so can't recall what it was like. There's a lot of crap pizza about, I do know that. Maranto's used to be fantastic too. Look for the wood fired oven is my tip.

Tricky WooNovember 6th 2007.

That's not very grown up, is it?

JazzmanNovember 6th 2007.

Sorry - it's spelt "Il Bacino".

Mr. I. TyeNovember 6th 2007.

I would like to take issue with the statement about pizza "it's been around forever" - no it hasn't! You had to make your own pizzas from scratch in Liverpool until the the Pizza Santa Lucia opened on Lark Lane (and they admitted it wasn't real mozzarella but something called 'Mozzatop') and 'Pick Up A Pizza' on Smithdown Road.Mind you the Americans were still calling them 'pizza pies' at that point.

Recovering alcoholicNovember 6th 2007.

Just looking at these pizzas reminds me of the days when I regularly used to down a couple of bottles of the finest chateauneuf du pape with a four seasons. Those days are sadly over, but now I feel like getting smashed and I am looking at a bottle of CD cleaning fluid in a whole new light.

London RoadNovember 6th 2007.

I hope Fat Git's post office hasn't been closed down.

ellisNovember 6th 2007.

I really miss the Santa Lucia in Lark Lane.

Pauline's mateNovember 6th 2007.

Fat Git is addicted to cheap tasteless cheese, and that's just his women.

WittyNovember 6th 2007.

Dear Dour, I am afraid your assumption is completely wrong, but I would still say you should try American Pizza Slice out! I am just an avid fan of all good food, whether it be a top class restaurant or just a good take away!

MalNovember 6th 2007.

I once called a girl Pizza face for a whole year. I'm not proud of it but it's true. She did have a terrible complexion though so really, she should have at least worn a mask

scrittipolittiNovember 6th 2007.

Best cheap pizza I've had in Liverpool is at The Quarter on Falkner Street. The garden pizza (multi veg) is £5.95 and at least looks better than the winner! Fat Git sorry but I'm guessing your addiction to cheap tasteless cheese is not enough reason to celebrate Liverpool pizza. The principle of good ingredients is not present in most of the mountains of cheap mozzarella, half-cooked bread and crap meat which make up your average cholestorol-fest which is fed to the North End.

DourNovember 6th 2007.

Does Witty work for American Pizza Slice perchance.

Fat GitNovember 6th 2007.

I don't agree that there is a lot of crap pizza about. I have been on incapacity benefit for the last 16 years and so have enjoyed more than the average number of Domino's and Pizza Express sloppy guissepies while delivering them around the north end at night. I wouldn't mind one of those big Il Forno pizzas though and may go there next Monday after I've been the post office and cheer myself up.

DigNovember 6th 2007.

I thought Mozzatop was a word Jews use when celebrating. Maybe only when they're celebrating Beatles Day. Do Evertonian Jews wear a Blue Kippah?

Mario LanzaNovember 6th 2007.

Is that related to the Gusto in Heswall?

AnonymousNovember 6th 2007.

Gusto in Southport in the best pizza I have tasted in England

Brian PNovember 6th 2007.

Casa Italia - excellent pizza's, but the service was rubbish yesterday (over an hour wait), and they were only half full, and rudest waiter in all of Liverpool - give it a miss

WittyNovember 6th 2007.

I think you all could be stark raving mad, has no-one mentioned American Pizza Slice on Whitechapel?As much as pizza may have been invented in Italy, people must agree that (as much as it loathes me to say) the Americans have perfected it! I'm not talking the Domino's or Pizza Hut trailer trash, I mean the 5th Avenue of Pizza Parlours like American Pizza Slice! The flavours and ingredients are fantastic and having spent a lot of time over in the States, I have to say that American Pizza Slice is the closest thing to the real deal I have found in this fair land of ours, and trust me I have travelled the length & breadth sampling the highlights, or lowlights, of many a different pizzeria. There really is nothing like that glorious feeling of the flavour infused oil running down your hand and up your arm of a fantastic pizza! If you haven't tried it then check out American Pizza Slice on Whitechapel! I live in Crosby and if they can't deliver to me because they are too busy then I am more than happy to go and collect it because it is that damn good! Granted there is very limited space for eating in, but to be honest I am grateful of that because once you start eating their pizza it can be a messy sight watching people fighting over a slice and devouring an 18" pizza in under 2 minutes!

AnonymousNovember 6th 2007.

Isn't mozzatop something to do with Beatles Day?

JazzmanNovember 6th 2007.

For Italian - try Il Baccino (Brunswick). The real thing!

AndrewNovember 6th 2007.

Anyone remember Quo Vadis (or something) on Bold Street? Pizza to die for.

DigNovember 6th 2007.

Best pizza I've had was a 3 cheese pizza from a chippy on Rice Lane called China Palace. I don't recall ever enjoying a pizza as much as that one. I was very drunk at the time so I'm sure that enhanced the experience. 它是可口的

AndyNovember 6th 2007.

I had pizza in Italy once. It was crap.

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