17 November 2016

Panzo, Exmouth Market

If you go down to Exmouth Market today, you're in for a big (pizza) surprise. New kid on the block, Panzo, is set to shake up the foodie haven, offering a rival pizza destination to Pizza Pilgrims only a few doors down.

Panzo's USP is the dough. It's lighter, with less gluten, formulated with wheat, rice and soya. The base is pre-cooked, loaded with toppings, then cooked again. The formulation and cooking technique makes for a stronger, crispier dough, which equals more toppings and less droop.

First things first: the exterior is pink. PINK. Admittedly, a very pale, subtle pink, but pink nonetheless.

With copper lettering, which is just *so* in vogue right now.

The interior, which is Italian and Scandinavian inspired, is similarly dreamy. Pink washed walls, marble, copper fixtures, and succulents artfully placed on the walls.

Upon arrival, we were greeted with a warm welcome and a chilled drink.

Frizzante, not Prosecco. It apparently has less fizz (which I found made it easier to drink, bonus).

There are chalkboards laying out the pizzas on offer, as well as coffees and teas. Good news for people on their lunchbreaks - take out is available, too.

And there's no ignoring the stars of the show - the pizza.

In all their glory; toppings covering the 50% cooked base, ready for round two in the pizza oven once ordered by a very lucky customer.

Speaking of which, we were hungry.

We were shown to our table and perused the menu. It's quite concise - nibbles are bread, olives and salad, with one veggie starter, 'Tina' and one small meat platter, 'Bruce'.

We opted with the 'naked panzo' (bread with rosemary, I thought it would be garlic bread for some reason, bit of a shock) and a starter each.

Creamy burrata with sweet, juicy tomatoes, a drizzle of olive oil, and basil to garnish...

And a mini charcuterie consisting of prosciutto, salami and ham. Yummy. I couldn't eat it all, as I wanted to pace myself... but I tried. And it was good.

Then onto the (yay) pizzas...

I went for the special, which was pear, pancetta, red onion and Parmesan. Mmmmm.

I was worried that pear on a pizza would be weird, and maybe make the dough a bit soggy, but I was wrong. And happy to be wrong (which is a rarity). The pear had been finely sliced and ever so slightly dried, and it was just the right amount of sweet contrasted with the saltiness of the pancetta. The onions added a bit of crunch and the Parmesan brought it all together perfectly.

We also got a Maggie - roasted tomatoes, mozzarella and basil - which, yes, was pretty much the same as the starter, but on dough...

How good does it look, though? Simple but effective. And I was assured that the tomatoes didn't seep into the dough, which means, yes, Panzo keeps to its word about the crispy, strong base. There was no drooping or flopping or dropping of toppings. Success all around.

In the absence of tiramisu (I know - there was none left, it was a travesty), we were presented with yet more dough, this time of a jaffa cake variety, topped with orange and chocolate. It did taste like a jaffa cake, to be honest. Which was delightful, but by this point we were a bit dough-ed out...

What was on offer was the Chocolate Explosion. I was quite intrigued by the idea of an explosion - would it have a sparkler? Popping candy? Some sort of melting involving fire?

It turned out to just be chocolate mousse in a jar, which flummoxed me a bit. It was delicious, though. If I hadn't been so full I would have devoured it.

(Not pictured - we also got given what was described as 'nutella and banana', and that was also on dough, as an apology for the lack of tiramisu. We thought we may explode from a dough overdose, and could barely manage a few mouthfuls. We were grateful for the effort, however!).

The Chocolate Explosion, somewhat lacking the explosion factor

Panzo is really quite exciting in what it promises - light, crispy pizzas, loaded with delicious toppings and an interesting combination of flavours. I probably wouldn't have believed I would have enjoyed a pizza with pear on it, for example, but I've been totally won over. 

I did miss the tiramisu, and I would have liked to see a bigger variety of starters, but then maybe that might take away from what Panzo is about: the dough.

I'd recommend visiting, especially during the day. It has a huge skylight in the main dining area that promises to fill the room with light, perfect for that insta shot of the succulents lining the walls...

Find Panzo at 50 Exmouth Market, EC1R 4QE panzopizza.com

**I visited Panzo in exchange for review. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.  

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