Many of you may have thought something along the lines of, “not another pizza place in Oxford” when you first heard about Pizza Pilgrims opening in The Westgate shopping centre. I have to admit, I did.
On the face of things, there was a cliché story about two guys that travelled around Italy to find the ‘perfect’ pizza recipe and subsequently bring it back to the UK to replicate here and feed pizza lovers with authentic Italian pizza.
So I decided to see what the fuss was about.
My negative thoughts soon disappeared about just, “another pizza place in Oxford”, soon after I walked inside Pizza Pilgrims. I was really refreshed by a feel of authenticity and storytelling on printed materials around the restaurant, as well as several really query features such as retro games that can be played for free and a huge screen playing a “Chef Cam” so you can see at all times whats going on in the kitchen – always a good sign that the restaurant has nothing to hide and is showing complete transparency in what they are making and how they make it for you.
Food and Drinks
When we planned to come to Pizza Pilgrims, we really only wanted to try their pizzas. However after looking through the menu it soon became apparent that they offered a selection of good pizzas as well as starters and desserts or as they call it, ‘With Pizza’ and ‘After Pizza’.
In terms of drinks I opted to try the house draft beer which was Birra Moretti and I have only ever tried this beer from a bottle before. It was light and refreshing, great for accompanying pizza.
For the starter I was intrigued by the Deep Fried Italian Mac ‘n’ Cheese with Parmesan, peas and mozzarella (£5). I’ve never tried anything like this before, but the outside was super crispy and the inside was warm and fell apart. Absolutely loved this and would definitely have it again.
The main reason why I came here. I’ve read reviews online about the style of pizza at Pizza Pilgrims and the final product is a bone of contention for some pizza lovers out there. If you don’t read up on the style of pizza that is served before you come to Pizza Pilgrims, you might be in for a bit of a shock when you take your first bite. For example business people just looking for a quick bite to eat.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, allow me to elaborate.
Their pizza tastes really fresh. By really fresh I mean that the dough comes out very soft and doughy. This is because they cook their pizzas at a very high heat (around 400-500 degrees) for just 60 seconds which is enough to cook the pizza and crisp the edges of the crusts whilst keeping that fresh taste.
This style of cooking originates from Naples in Italy and many of your typical UK large pizza chains do not offer this style of pizza. So for some UK pizza lovers that have never had the chance to try proper Italian pizza, this may be a weird and unorthodox concept to them which is also one of the main reasons I wanted to try it.
I was introduced to this style of pizza by a competitor of Pizza Pilgrims that opened on George Street a few months ago (Franco Manca) and really liked it.
I opted for the Nduja (£9.25) with an extra topping of Parma Ham and my other half went for the Calzone Ripeno (£11).
We agreed the best way to describe the pizzas in two words would be ‘fresh’ and ‘tasty’. As expected the dough was really soft and doughey and there’s nothing really quite like it if you haven’t tried this style of pizza before.
The Calzone was quite different from any other we had tried before too. It comes out much flatter and actually looks just like half a pizza. But when you cut into it you can see it is stuffed with toppings as expected and is really tasty (see picture below).
After eating our starter and pizzas we were stuffed. One thing to point out as well is that the dough is really filling! That being said after such a good experience from what we had tried already it would have been rude not to try a dessert, right?
It wasn’t discussed, we both just pointed at the Nutella Pizza Ring (£5.50) and couldn’t wait to see what this could even look like, let alone taste. We waited in anticipation and much like the speed of our pizza, it arrived quickly.
The Nutella Pizza Ring was essentially hot, messy, gooey goodness. I would definitely order this again and tasted exactly how it looks below.
Conclusions and final thoughts
Overall I loved Pizza Pilgrims.
In my opinion, it is best placed in the Westgate as the restaurant has very modern and quirky feel to it which compliments the modern design of the shopping centre.
What disappointed me the most and I find a great shame is that it is tucked at the back of the top floor so that they may miss out on people walking past and trying the food spontaneously, so if anyone is considering trying it I’d encourage you to give it a go!
I would rate my dining and food/drink experience a 9/10 and there was really little if anything at fault. The service was chilled and friendly and the food came quickly.
If someone was to ask me if I preferred Pizza Pilgrims or Franco Manca (now that I’ve tried both) – you’d really struggle to make me pick one. I’d honestly tell you to try both!