After almost 15 months of walking or bussing past it basically every day, Brandon and I finally popped in to Pizza 500 this week to see what’s good.
Pizza 500 nestles in amongst the houses on Preston Road and has the proper look of your typical neighbourhood restaurant, with the added quirk that it is set within what looks to be an old car garage. You can’t always clearly see inside whilst walking past, which put me off somewhat at first (I have a bit of a thing of going into empty establishments, for example), but after squinting in a few times we noted how busy it seemed to be most evenings and vowed to check it out.
It was really warm still when we walked down from ours (15-20 minute walk), so we were offered a table outside which we gladly took. The outside area is narrow, exactly like a back garden, but functional with 5-6 chunky wooden tables outside and a toilet in a back part of the building accessed this way.
Walking through, it was already busy and everything smelled delicious. We were greeted with smiles by all of the team that we passed on the way outside, a small but extremely appreciated gesture.
We perused the vast menu for quite some time and ordered a couple of Peronis, apologising profusely when we had to tell our server – not once! But twice! – that we weren’t ready to order. Although I guess I should take the blame for this as I am famously indecisive, especially when there is too much choice. We both decided to try the suppli, fried rice tubes filled with mozzarella, and then ordered our pizzas. Brandon chose the 32. Homemade sausage, adding buffalo mozzarella and mushrooms, and I went for the 41. Four cheese with added spinach. I had originally added parma ham on top of this but shortly after ordering, our server came over to clarify this with me, saying that the chef recommended it without the parma ham due to the strong flavours already coming through with the gorgonzola. I quite admired the fact that the chef cared enough about the food experience to question this, and happily went along with his recommendation!
The suppli arrived with an apology a little way into our pizza, which was totally fine, and they were very satisfying! There is no other way to explain it than its description – a fried pasta tube filled with mozzarella – and it felt so naughty and delicious.
You can tell the quality of the ingredients used on these pizzas from the taste, as every mouthful was packed with flavour and involved a party of textures, with a nice crispy base. The chef hit the nail on the head with mine as the creaminess and almost sickliness of the gorgonzola combined with the mature taste of the parmesan for some very complex flavours, and the spinach made a great accompaniment on its own. The parma ham probably would have pushed me over the edge!
I can’t say much for Brandon’s apart from what he told me – that it was delicious – and the little forkful of homemade sausage that I speared to satisfy my curiosity. This!! Fragrant, salty and ridiculously moreish, I’m definitely going for some of this next time we visit, and it definitely rivals that of the garlic and herb sausage from Fatto a Mano down the road.
Pizza 500 make their own gelato, which was something I was really keen to try out. However, I had my eye on the Pizza Dolce – folded pizza dough filled with Nutella and mascarpone – so was very glad when my dessert indifferent boyfriend chose a scoop of gelato, knowing I would get to try both. He asked our server what gelato flavours were on offer, to which she asked the sort of thing he was looking for and then recommended pistachio. One mouthful into his gelato, I saw Brandon wince and asked him what was wrong. “It tastes like nuts” was his reply to which I gleefully laughed my head off and then proceeded to scoop some onto my dolce. Pistachio is always a winning flavour but this was just beautiful!
The Pizza Dolce. I feel full just thinking about it now, and I chose the smaller size. Thank goodness too, because for one person it is more than enough! Crispy dough filled with a sweet and creamy amalgamation of Nutella and mascarpone, even Brandon couldn’t resist helping me to finish this and I’m pretty glad for it, as I don’t know how I’d have walked home otherwise.
Overall, we had a really great first experience with Pizza 500 and the food could absolutely not be faulted (oh, except for the nutty pistachio gelato of course…)! On top of this, a 330ml bottle of beer was only £2.50, which was incredibly cheap and meant we were able to have a few drinks along with our meal, rather than going up the road afterwards and paying several pounds more.
Two female servers looked after us for the evening and both were really friendly and polite, making recommendations and telling us about the menu, but perhaps if anything just not quite as attentive as some other restaurants. This just meant that getting their attention for another round of drinks was more difficult than usual, but was by no means a reflection on their service as it was great!
So, this really is our local pizzeria: just down the road, with incredibly friendly people, great food and a lovely atmosphere. It makes a great third place spot for friends, families and couples to enjoy dinner, and you can just tell it already is many other people’s third place!
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