Eating out: Pizza Punks bring 48 toppings to Belfast (just skip the soda bread)
16-24 Waring Street,
028 9031 4110
THERE are plenty of things this part of the world could do with more of, but stuff to disagree on isn’t one of them. From the pettiest waste of time to fundamental human rights, our capacity for finding things to butt heads over is depressingly impressive.
Sitting towards the petty end of the scale, but still liable to keep the seventh circle of hell radio call-in show industry in rude health, is just what should or should not go into a fry.
Sausage, bacon, egg? Obviously. Soda bread, potato bread? Yeah (well, not the soda. I don't care what you think). Vegetable roll? Aye. A pancake? Right. Pudding (white), pudding (black)? Uhhh... Tomato? Mushrooms? Umm... Beans? A bit English, but let’s not get into that. Hash browns? As Barney from The Simpsons might put it: Go back to Russia!
And that’s without even bringing colour of sauce into it.
But maybe the one thing we can agree on it that it all goes on a plate. Not a roof slate. Not a tennis racquet. And not a pizza.
Pizza Punks, whose recently opened Belfast city centre site is only the Glasgow-based eatery's second outlet, will do you an Ulster (another thing to argue about) fry pizza with most of the above, including potato bread.
It sounds disgusting. It may well be, but I didn’t order it so I don’t know – although not offering an opinion on something I know nothing about could get my 'over here' credentials revoked quicker than saying I don’t like soda in a fry.
Being able to get loads of stuff on your pizza is what Pizza Punks is all about.
That and, according to the website, their "love of proper pizza" (though any time someone starts throwing the word 'proper' around, sirens should follow).
Inside it’s just as you’d expect somewhere like this to be. Industrial chic. Beards and back-to-front baseball caps. A neon sign proclaiming ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart Again.” There’s some screenprinted faux graffiti saying: 'No Gods. No Rules. No Forks'.
It could all be a bit much – but it gets away with it by being good.
There’s a relaxed buzz to the place, with the friendly, helpful, bantery but not too bantery service adding to it.
And the pizza, whether proper or not, is better than good. Yes, you can construct any sort of mind-boggling combination from their choice of sauces, cheeses and 48 toppings – all for a tenner – but you don’t have to.
At £8, goat’s cheese, red onion and spinach on their sourdough base made things clear they’ve got the basics just right.
The scorch and chew of the base and sweetness of the tomato sauce suggests the £6 margarita would be a generous, seriously good value feed.
Just because you can have everything doesn’t mean you should so, rather than cauliflower, kebab meat and macaroni cheese, I use the flexibility of the £10 ‘Punk your pizza’ option to get a white pizza, with a creme fraiche and cream sauce, double up on the cheese with mozzarella and scamorza, and employ some restraint by adding just artichokes and nduja – a fiery, spreadable salami.
The nduja means I almost sweat my face off the front of my head, but it would have been worth it.
Among the starters are not quite so spicy chicken wings – good flavour, but they needed jointed – and candied bacon: salty, sticky, caramelly slivers of meat gone far too soon.
The bacon also makes an appearance in their Old Fashioned, which was perfectly fine, as was the Garden Fizz with rhubarb gin and elderflower.
Desserts are limited to a nutella and banana ‘pizza’, a selection of ice cream and their ‘freakshakes’. The ice cream, with a choice of sauces and toppings, was £4 and a perfect size if you don’t fancy too much to round things off.
The ‘freakshake’, on the other hand, was bigger than your head with ice cream and milkshake and sweets and a wedge of cheesecake balanced on top.
Still finished it, though.
Pizza Punks may play up the gimmicky side of things but it really doesn’t need the bells and whistles – or the potato bread.
Candied bacon £3
Buffalo wings £4
Goat’s cheese pizza £8
Punk your pizza £10
Ice cream £4
Old Fashioned £7
Garden Fizz £7