The ac­tion

Irish Independent - Weekend Magazine - - Table Talk -

With a pro­lif­er­a­tion of new pizza places open­ing across the coun­try in re­cent months, Alex Mee­han ex­plores what’s fuelling our ap­petite for the Ital­ian clas­sic

What’s more basic than the hum­ble pizza? We’re talk­ing dough, crushed toma­toes and cheese, just three basic in­gre­di­ents, and yet to­gether they make up a dish that’s served in vir­tu­ally ev­ery coun­try in the world. This Ital­ian clas­sic is un­der­go­ing some­thing of a resur­gence. Pizza — more specif­i­cally artisan pizza — seems to be ev­ery­where at the minute, with restaurants de­voted to it pop­ping up in in­creas­ing num­bers. But what’s the dif­fer­ence be­tween a take­away pizza you’d get de­liv­ered, a frozen one you’d buy in the su­per­mar­ket, and the ones served up in these restaurants?

“Peo­ple use this word, artisan, about us, but to be hon­est I’m not sure what they mean,” says Ro­nan Gre­aney, who runs the Dough Bros res­tau­rant in Gal­way with his brother Eugene.

“There are so many forms and types of pizza to be­gin with that it quickly be­comes be­wil­der­ing. You can have Chicago style, New York style, Neapoli­tan style — and lots of peo­ple don’t even agree on what the right way to make it is in the first place,” he says.

“For us, artisan comes back to the qual­ity of the funda- men­tals and the re­spect that you ap­proach the process with. It’s also about the in­gre­di­ents. We im­port flour from Naples, we use a par­tic­u­lar type of toma­toes, we use buf­falo moz­zarella. We make the dough by hand and even stretch it by hand.”

For many Ir­ish peo­ple, their first ex­pe­ri­ence of pizza is from a su­per­mar­ket or mass-mar­ket de­liv­ery com­pany. “It’s a shame,” Gre­aney says, “be­cause it doesn’t do the real thing jus­tice.”

Cheap in­gre­di­ents, lots of preser­va­tives and ad­di­tives, and the wrong base to top­ping ra­tios re­sult in a prod­uct which is pizza in name only, he be­lieves. To make mat­ters worse, a de­liv­ered pizza of­ten sits in a card­board box steam­ing away for up to 30 min­utes be­fore ar­riv­ing at your door. The real thing is a world apart, and the dif­fer­ences start with the dough.

“A good dough is ex­cep­tion­ally pure. It’s made with flour, wa­ter, salt and yeast — noth­ing else. When you order a pizza from a large com­mer­cial sup­plier, it’s of­ten got other things in the base. Preser­va­tives, sugar and oils are com­mon for ex­am­ple, as is the ad­di­tion of a lot more salt,” Gre­aney says.

“The weight of the dough is also im­por­tant. In a com­mer­cial pizza, more of the prod­uct will be made up of what is ba­si­cally bread, be­cause it’s cheap. The re­sult is a much heav­ier meal. But you shouldn’t feel like you

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