Pizza by the slice isn’t something that has caught on in Cardiff. RomEat does it very well, of course, and their Roman-leaning style is notable for its crisp olive oil-enriched base. Generally, the city is dominated by the Neapolitan style: small, soupy-centred, the rim buckshot-scorched with blisters, turning us all into pomodoro pundits and cornicione connoisseurs.
And among those, Ffwrnes. For many, the pick of the bunch, with a huge following, built up over years. Ieuan and Jeremy’s Cardiff Market balcony level stall is always one of the busiest, and with good reason: it’s good food at a good price, with no pretension.
Cosmetically, West Pizza couldn’t be more different. This brings their New York-style menu to the spiffy Laundry Quarter (no, me neither). You can have a slab of the daily filled focaccia, crisp and airy (£7); it comes with crisps, though sadly not in a crescent, and rather lovely it is, too.
(Also missing: cooked meat. And a hot egg. And a side clump of cress.)
Or come for something sweet, while you sip your Cortado- it’s like a flat white, but for grownups- and gaze out on the mean streets of Pontcanna.
But really, you’ll come here for the pizza. And quite right, too.
There are six on the regular menu, available as huge 18 inch family-size jobs, with additional specials: but the fun is in working your way through slice by slice. Grab one- paper plate, brown paper bag if it’s to go- from the themed menu. They’re all linked to Welsh rugby- their hometown club Llanelli, specifically, because as they say, ‘West is Best’.
Perhaps the peak West experience- certainly one I’d recommend- is to nab the window seat, rack up a few slices and watch the world drift by. If you really have to, you can pretend you’re in The Sopranos as Chrissy Moltisanti tells that pizzeria story. Or Do The Right Thing, perhaps, for that NYC vibe, though do try not to incite a race riot while you’re here. No one needs that.
The CJ (£3.50) plays a neat trick- the hoisin-laced base, strewn with spring onion, conditions you to expect the usual duck while being meat free. Meri Ann, £3, (from Sosban Fach) keeps it simple with basil and olive oil, while the Ray (£3.75) is a classic pepperoni.
The last is named after Ray Gravell, which potentially makes him the only person to have two of Cardiff’s best cheaper eats named after him (see: The Grav from Ansh). The New Yorker teams slabs of pickle with tangy American yellow mustard: these are heftily-proprtioned slices, all with that light base which demands to be folded in classic NY style, for everything from a quick bite to a hearty meal.
Garlic dip- thick, pungent, a grown up’s upgrade on that stuff Dominos do- you know, the one you’d never admit to having to your foodie friends- and a punchy sriracha mayo make for excellent finishing touches.
West Pizza has an enviable location here. Between the moneyed ‘WFH’ Pontcanna contingent (it’s standing room only on Friday lunchtime) and the fact it’s close enough to Cowbridge Road to make it a Canton option. There’s potential here too to appeal to the walking home from school crowd.
But eating out is more than just transactional. As with everything Jez and Ieuan do, from their joyous TV programmes to Ffwrnes’ startlingly low prices, it feels wholesome somehow. There are no bombastic social media claims, no sense of cashing in on a passing trend. It is one of those rare things in hospitality, something impossible to fake and shorn of cynicism. I love that. You should, too.
West Pizza, 60 Glynne St, Pontcanna, Cardiff CF11 9NS
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This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.