Eating Out: Greens Pizza menu evokes The Deer Hunter a little too much for my liking
357-359 Ormeau Road,
028 9099 3130
GOING out for something to eat somewhere you've never been before is inherently risky business. Other people liking something – even an awful lot of people liking it – doesn't necessarily mean that will hold true for someone else.
Greens Pizza, long established on the Lisburn Road and more recently settled at Ballyhackamore in the east of the city, is a venerable institution of Belfast's eating out scene.
An awful lot of people seem to like it, so it's not surprising that another branch has opened, this one on Ormeau Road. And it's busy on a Thursday night, with the clink of bring-your-own bottles echoing around the exposed brick, industrial chic styling that every new restaurant is apparently required by law to employ.
After ordering from the efficient, friendly waiting staff it quickly becomes apparent that the risk factor at Greens extends to the menu: you can be landed with anything from a regrettable bowl of pasta to a pizza that makes you wonder how you ever lived without it.
'Sticks and stones', a selection of bread sticks and garlic dough balls, augurs well for the pizza to come, arriving with garlic butter, pesto and chilli for dredging through.
It's described as sweet chilli sauce and, while there's a hint of sweetness to it, it's not the ubiquitous clear, chilli-flecked Thai condiment you expect when someone says sweet chilli – it's superb.
Throat-ticklingly hot but with a deep, smoky flavour, it more than made up for a bland pesto crippled by far too much flavourless cheese.
There are four pasta dishes on the menu: every single one except the lasagne is penne with a 'white wine cream sauce'.
The ‘Greens pasta' adds mushrooms, bacon, salami and more of that pesto. It's starter sized, thank God, because it would be easier to stay awake through The Deer Hunter (I don't care what you think) than a bigger bowl. The pasta's cooked well, but the salami may as well not be there and the sauce barely tastes of anything.
But this is Greens Pizza, not Greens Pasta, so judging them on anything other than their main attraction may be missing the point.
There's a pizza special on – chicken madras. Er, no. Not because I get particularly exercised about what other people have to eat, but because it sounds horrible.
Less dry heave-inducing is the regular pizza menu, boasting everything you'd expect – and one with hoi sin duck, pineapple and almonds.
Again, knock yourself out.
Scrambling for safer ground, the diavol – essentially a really good margherita with the smack in the mouth of nduja – was pretty much perfect.
The base was crisp, with a good chew but never doughy, while the sauce, cheese and basil did their best to stand up to the spicy, soft sausage. By the time it was finished the nduja had prevailed, as the beads of forehead sweat proved, but by that time it was all over, and well worth it.
The 'fig and balsamic' pizza was less successful. For a start, it was covered in Parma ham, which you think might have merited some reference in the name of the pizza.
Menu semantics aside, the flavours were just a bit off, with the figs just not providing enough oomph on the sauceless base and everything ending up tasting of balsamic and that ham.
It wasn't bad by any means but it was disappointing in the extreme when compared to the effort across the table.
A waffle with outrageously good salted caramel ice cream from Al Gelato a little further up the Ormeau Road, and an even better salted caramel brownie – practically molten in the middle – round things off strongly and consistently.
The savoury end of things just needs to aspire to that to make sure you're not playing a game of Russian roulette when you order your dinner.
:: THE BILL
Greens pasta £5.95
Sticks and stones £8
Diavol pizza £11.15
Fig and balsamic pizza £10.50
Salted caramel brownie £5
Waffle and ice cream £6
San Pellegrino lemon x 2 £4.80
Total £ 51.40