Would you like a cocktail with your pizza? Don’t mind if we do. We visited Smoke + Ash nine weeks after opening and it’s fair to say it’s going well.
Over Christmas, the chefs couldn’t make enough dough to feed demand and they completely sold out numerous times. They’ve just had their busiest week to date in January when hospitality is usually in tumbleweed territory.
So, what’s all the fuss about? Well, it’s not rocket science, more like hard graft, vision, attention to detail and no doubt deep pockets. Opening a restaurant right now is not for the faint-hearted. The place is small but mighty focusing on excellent, reasonably priced pizza and sharing boards plus a cracking drinks menu with some quality cocktails. We recommend getting your lips around a rhubarb and ginger bramble on a Friday lunch-time.
The pizza features gloriously puffed-up blistered crusts for dunking into a choice of dips – we went for a punchy aioli packed with garlic. There’s also chimichurri and salsa verde. Toppings are plentiful – the Napoletana was loaded with creamy Fior di Latte mozzarella, anchovies, olives, capers and fresh basil. Not everyone’s cup of tea but right up our strada while the best seller, Salami Napoli with fresh chilli and mozzarella sang.
Sandwiched between the delicious toppings and brilliant base was a substantial flavour-packed tomato sauce – no insipid watery nonsense here. There’s also a choice of bianca pizzas without tomato if that’s your bag. Meanwhile, my mate said the rocket salad was the best he’d ever eaten – a surprising sentence for him to utter, but still, I knew what he meant. Rocket’s rocket, but the sweet balsamic dressing and cheeky parmesan shavings gave it a significant bit of oomph. Attention to detail again.
The location’s interesting too. A couple of doors down from Loki and opposite Chapter, Smoke + Ash is nestled in what is becoming a foodie hotspot. There’s a collective feel about the street, a support network and pleasing chatter of full pedestrianisation that will only add to the good vibes of the area and provide a further boost to business.
If you love pizza, go. If you don’t love pizza, we can’t be friends.