Saturday, 6 August 2016
REVIEW: Jamie's Pizzeria, St Albans
Not long after Jamie’s Italian opened in St Albans, a Jamie’s Deli opened next door. This always massively confused me for some reason. It looked intimidating, like a trendy wine bar, and I never ever went in there, despite popping into the main Jamie’s restaurant on many an occasion.
Perhaps this was a problem all round, because Jamie’s Deli has now been replaced by Jamie’s Pizzeria. It’s a more low-key version of the restaurant, really, although they only do – you guessed it – pizza. They asked me along to review it, and I said ok, because duh, pizza is amazing.
The menu is small but neatly formed, with a variety of hand-stretched garlic breads to choose from, nine different pizzas, a couple of salads and a handful of puds. I’m a fan of a small menu as a rule – it feels like the food on offer has been more carefully thought out, rather than pages and pages of options. When it’s the latter, I also find it really hard to choose, and I get really bad FOMO, so that’s a problem for me.
The restaurant was very quiet when we went, so service was super quick. We started with some olives and the garlic bread with pecorino. The garlic bread was lovely – served warm and fresh, and while it wasn’t overly garlicky, it still had a lot of flavour.
We also ordered a salad – heritage tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and basil – because whenever I’ve been to Italy, I get super obsessive about the tomatoes. A good tomato salad, though, right? When it’s good, it’s REALLY good. Sadly this was just okay – the tomatoes lacked flavour and it was crying out for a hearty slug of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. And if you've ever watched any Jamie Oliver shows, you'll know he bloody loves tomatoes. So that was disappointing.
We did our usual trick with pizzas and ordered two to share; the Spicy Meatball (Nduja sausage, pork meatballs, garlic and Parmesan) and the Patata Bianco (white sauce, thinly sliced potatoes, pancetta, rosemary and balsamic onions). They’re very much cooked Italian style – super thin bases and flavoursome sauces. The Spicy Meatball was, as its name suggested, spicy. It was just on the verge of being too spicy for my wussiness, but still tasty, with a well seasoned sauce and crispy base. And I know you can feel a ‘but’ coming, and it is, but it’s not the Spicy Meatball’s fault. The Spicy Meatball was fine. FINE. But the Patata Bianco was INCREDIBLE. Anything would pale in comparison to it.
I am a sucker for a white pizza - so decadent, so rich. I've never met one I didn't like. And the Jamie's Pizzeria version is one I liked very much indeed. The cheesy topping seeps into the white sauce, creating a thick, creamy topping of oozy wonderfulness. I didn't feel like I noticed the potato topping, but I did notice a lemony hint that's not mentioned on the menu. But it totally worked! It cut through the richness and meant that well, I really didn't want Matt to have the other half of that pizza.
For dessert, Matt had the tiramasu and I had the chocolate brownie. Look how pretty. LOOK. Both were great. Maybe a little on the safe side, but the whole menu was fairly simple so that didn't bother me, and who's ever had a bad chocolate brownie, hmmm? Plus, that was a super salty salted caramel ice cream on top, which was amaaazing.
Jamie's Pizzeria was pretty good. The Patata Bianco pizza was amazing, and I'd go back for that alone, but the rest of our food was... fine. But not exceptional. I just think there are a lot of truly great Italian restaurants out there by people who really specialise in the cuisine, and I think Jamie likes to try his hand at lots of different cuisines, which works on his show but less so with his restaurants. A bit of a Jack of all trades, master of none situation. Just me? Perhaps.
Jamie's Pizzeria is at The Maltings, 22 Chequer St, St Albans AL1 3YD. The restaurant kindly paid our bill in return for this honest review.
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