Eating Out: Flout! - Seriously serious about pizza
Portview Trade Centre
310 Newtownards Road,
MAKING pizza is a serious business and the people who make it - whether or not it's their actual business - take it very seriously.
It's a world of precision tweaks and balances. Where temperature, time and the ratio of flour to water - hydration is a big thing - are measured to the smallest degree.
Where people call lumps of dough, all swaddled and cosy, full of potential, babies.
But if all of this is in service of producing something good, then more power to them.
Pizza is deceptively simple, but to think of it as easy is to get it wrong. Just consider how disappointing bad pizza is. Just as, at the other end of the scale, good pizza, great pizza, the best pizza, is a special thing.
Say hello to Peter Thompson and his Flout! pizza, complete with the most deserving exclamation mark since Wham!
He had already constructed a pizza oven - Pete's Hut - in the back garden of his Belfast home to let friends and family benefit from his passion, but when the pandemic saw the job he had recently moved to disappear, he took it as the push he needed to turn it into a full-time gig.
The result was Flout! and eventually a space in the Portview Trade centre in east Belfast, where he churns out - as much as he can, being a one-man band - slices of takeaway pizza, but in style and substance you won't find bettered anywhere else in Belfast - a city well served by pizza places - or a good distance beyond.
His Instagram account detailed above is the best place to get an idea of what he's doing and what you can expect - also opening times, which are generally 12pm-2pm Wednesday to Saturday, but can fluctuate given it's just the man himself keeping the show on the road at the minute.
It's also reason alone to set up an Instagram account. I know, because it's the reason I did.
But as alluring as they are, the pictures don't do the pizzas justice - because they are phenomenal.
There are a couple of Detroit/Sicilian via New York style - square, thick, fringed by a crisp collar of cheese - and other, more recognisable round pies. What you get from each is equally generous for £4.50 - either stout but pillowy oblongs, or huge triangles to be folded lengthways and manoeuvred like you're parallel parking a double decker bus.
Both the garlic and onion and 'Spicy King' Detroit-ish slices get the ratio of dough to other stuff just right - an absolute necessity for deep dish. The pepperoni on the Spicy King curls into little cups, giving up their oil like a sacred offering. God, it's good.
In the round and thin corner is a version of pizza marinara, which eschews the cheese but is as bright and fresh and moreish as you could want, while a fennel sausage and shaved garlic number, whipped up then and there, is the epitome of a New York slice that has found its way to east Belfast.
These two go a long way to explaining just why Thompson gets things so right.
The pizza marinara - he also does a Philadelphia tomato pie, which is essentially the same thing on a square thick dough - leaves nowhere to hide. It's tomato sauce on dough, but it sings.
The added cheese and sausage on the other slice display the care and thought that go into the ingredients. The sausage is from the high king of all things meat in Ireland, Peter Hannan, while Thompson makes his own mozarella.
It's all brought home along with a foccacia, a volcanic landscape of a thing, with its huge charred black blisters balanced with honey sweetness.
Thankfully the line was forming as we left with our precious cargo, and it's unlikely to get any shorter as word gets out.
Flout! is expanding with the option to order entire pizzas for collection through the website - again Instagram is the place to find out just when that's available. But whatever way you manage to get your hands on it, you'll be getting your hands on probably the best pizza you will ever have, anywhere. Seriously.
Tomato pie slice £4.50
Spicy King square slice £4.50
Onion and garlic square slice £4.50
Sausage and onion slice £4.50