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