As a proper Pizza Fiend, you’ll struggle to find somewhere in town that does pizza and I haven’t had my grubby mitts all over their creations. I would consider pizza to be pretty much the pinnacle of human creation, beating the Internet on the sole reason that 70% of what’s actually on the Internet is pizza related anyway.
Therefore it can be quite difficult to impress me with your pizza. I’ve tried to eat as many as possible all around the world, wherever and whenever I can. From the worst (China) to the best (surprisingly India), there are so many factors that make up a great pizza that it can often be pretty easy to get wrong and completely ruin.
For me it’s all about the base, as that Meghan Trainor woman sung in that song a couple of years back. If the base is shit, the pizza might as well be served up on the back of a tramp’s dog – one of the reasons I will never try a Cauliflower Base pizza ever again ever.
So as I walked into PLY to try their new menu I was already in a pretty welcoming state. Having already eaten here a few times, I know that the PLY bases are pretty much up there with the best I’ve ever had; seemingly once their dough goes into their wood oven, some sort of magical process happens which turns it into a fluffy, moist but also surprisingly crispy circle of heaven.
Add to this the holy grail of any pizza crust – the bubbling and charring that you only get with a truly scorching hot oven and you’ve got the perfect canvas for whatever toppings you can think of. With PLY’s new menu, they’ve added some corkers, as well as keeping some of their old favourites.
To start with, like pretty much every meal I ever have nowadays, we had some alcohol. The list of new cocktails at PLY is rather impressive, and unless you’re feeling in a Phil Mitchell kind of mood – you can only get through a couple.
I started off with the Vitamin Bee (£7) which was a lovely bit of gin, honey and lemon, with something called bergamot – which I quickly discovered to be some sort of orange. The cocktail was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever tasted – but in a very good way. It possessed an almost autumnal, medicinal taste, which was perfectly complemented by the sharp citrus and bitter gin. We also tried the Pantone Two Eleven (£7) which was as close to a ‘Cheshire Cocktail’ as you can get with gin, rhubarb, strawberry and prosecco.
As part of their new menu, PLY have introduced a new selection of Small Plates including a Beetroot Carpaccio, Lamb Chops and a revitalised Fennel and Orange Salad. So that we didn’t ruin our main course, we decided to share the new Charcuterie (which I still don’t know how to pronounce) which consisted of Coppa ham, salami, smoked mutton, air-cured duck, pickles, olives and bread.
When it arrived it was clear that we were going to have to take it easy so as not to get too full before the main event. We gave it a bloody good going over though – which to be fair was pretty easy because the meat was excellent. For bread you receive a mound of the fantastic PLY dough, which is perfect for wrapping around some of the cured meats and making a cute little sandwich. The duck was especially flavoursome – I believe I ate it all without sharing. My mum would be so proud. The pickles in the middle were a nice little addition too – adding a welcome degree of juice and sharpness to the meat.
Swiftly moving on to the pizzas, PLY have added an extra 5 concoctions to their already extensive menu, and to be fair I was having a bit of decision-making trouble. I was torn between two – the Pear and Blue Cheese and the Chorizo and Squash. In the end I settled on Pear and Blue Cheese, while my girlfriend went for the Aubergine and Red Pepper.
While eating the Pear & Blue Cheese (£9.50) pizza I really was in some cheese-related heaven. A place where the Laughing Cow will chat to that Cheesestrings guy, while the Lurpack trumpet player relaxes on a wheel of Brie. As a massive fan of Blue Cheese (I will cancel Christmas if it doesn’t feature on the family cheeseboard), this white pizza was perfect for me.
The strength of the gorgonzola juxtaposed with the sweet pears and crunchy walnuts was wonderful – and with the added pancetta (an additional £1.50) – there was a welcome bit of bacon saltiness to it. If you’re a lover of Blue Cheese you should definitely make this your first choice. If not – I’d probably stay well clear.
In stark contrast with my blue cheese pizza was the Aubergine and Red Pepper creation (£9), which followed more traditional lines in terms of coming loaded with a tomato base, as well as being probably the most colourful food I’ve seen since my last trip to Neverland. Coming laced with a variety of chargrilled veggies, it’s very Mediterranean – a factor further emphasised with the welcome addition of a fantastic basil pesto in every bite.
We were in a bit of a rush so didn’t get to try any dessert, and to be perfectly honest – there wasn’t much space. The pizzas at PLY, although not the biggest in the city, are definitely very filling and offer excellent value for money. As previously mentioned, their dough is fantastic – and manages to keep you coming back for more even when you think you’ve had enough. Add to that some imaginative and well balanced toppings, and you’ve got yourself one of the best pizza experiences in the city.
Next time, I’m going to smash that Chorizo and Squash one!
PLY, 26 Lever St, Manchester M1 1DW
0161 711 0401