CITYLIFELOCAL SLICE OF RUDY’S IS PIZZA PERFECT
SIMON BINNS TESTS OUT THE CITY CENTRE VERSION OF A REVERED BRAND
ONE was never going to be enough. For anyone who’s been to Rudy’s in Ancoats - and if you haven’t, why not? - you’ll know that getting a table there was rarely a case of walking through the door and parking your backside on the nearest seat.
If you wanted pizza, more often than not, you were in for a wait.
Why? Well, quite simply, Rudy’s served up the best pizza in town.
You could slide a pepperoni slice in between them and Honest Crust but for me, Rudy’s always just edged it.
Day-long doublefermented dough to give a chewy, charred at the edges base and a range of simple but well-chosen (and faithful) toppings designed to show off rather than cover up the sweet tomato sauce beneath.
If Rudy’s were in London, it would have been splattered all over the capital like Franco Manca, with which it shares its sense of excellent pizza at the heart of a keenly priced but pleasingly short menu.
Between them, an uber-committed Jim and Kate Morgan had cultivated a spanking little outlet that pretty much anyone else serving up a slice in the city would have given their mozzarella balls to duplicate. But in Manchester, it operated as a lone unit - until a new regime stepped in.
As well as bars like Trof and the Deaf Institute, Mission Mars owns Albert’s Schloss and the Albert Hall. And in the Peter Street unit next door, the new branch of Rudy’s they recently opened since taking a majority stake in the business.
Why try to create your own much loved concept when you can buy someone else’s? Shrewd move.
The same semiindustrial fit out applies to the new unit, although the old one was lovably lo-fi for costing rather than aesthetic.
It’s a big space, feeling almost like two restaurants, front and back - outdoor seating means those hour long queues are unlikely to be a problem here.
The Rudy’s ethos has been well-preserved but it’s really all about those pizzas, isn’t it?
Luckily, they are much as they were. Excellent.
At 10p less than a fiver, the Marinara is simple perfection and goes straight to the top of the city’s cheap eats list. It’s big enough to wear over your head like a sloppy red hat and shareable between two, unless you’re me.
The Meridio (£8.90) mixes up sun-dried tomato, red onion and red chilli to give a sweet bite with plenty of kick and it is outstanding. For me, the best on their menu.
Ancozese (£8.90) is a close second - wild broccoli and Tuscan sausage make perfect bedfellows and prove that any more than a meaningful twosome is just for show.
The salame pizza (£7.90) comes laden with strips of smoked meat that melt into the pizza, gleefully folded up and rammed in to our gobs like sloppy newspapers being impatiently shoved through a letterbox.
Ungainly, but so satisfying.
Craft beer - Shindigger IPL (£4.50) - and a gin fizz (£5.90) are first class pizza eating libations.
On the sweet side, chocolate torte is decent, and it may be the Yorkshire in me, but £4 for two scoops of ice cream - however good it is - lets the previously price savvy menu down. The afogatto is better value at the same price and gives you the caffeine kick you might need to lift you from a dough-based haze.
That said, five people fed and watered for £72 is excellent value - and the original standards are being upheld.
Service can occasionally be a bit absent and middle distance. It starts as charming and ends up being slightly annoying. It will get slicker, you hope.
Rudy’s is an eminently expandable brand - and only a fool would think MM have picked it up to lovingly replicate it just the once, as some sort of tribute act on the other side of town.
No, Rudy’s is undoubtedly set for bigger things - and as long as they keep the place true to Jim and Kate’s original vision, they should be confident about the brand making that often troubled leap from fanatic-laden indie to (whisper it) successful mini chain.