Jamie Oliver’s never been one to shy away from an announcement, yet the pizzeria arm of his massive Jamie’s Italian empire appears to have arrived fairly quietly. It opened around a year ago, I think, and the entrance is tucked away behind the huge Jamie’s Italian building in the centre of the city. Perched at the top of the building, the smoky smell of the pizza oven whets your appetite as you climb the stairs.
I’ve become a recent convert to Jamie’s Italian, and we usually visit a few times a year, it is definitely one of the best chain restaurants in the UK. When I was invited to review the pizzeria I jumped at the chance, hoping it would be just as fresh and inventive as the original restaurant.
The menu is short – flatbreads with a choice of dips, a few salads, nine pizzas and the choice of affogato, tiramisu or gelato for pudding. A pizza special and a pasta cooked in the pizza oven rounds things off. Drinks-wise there are the usual soft drinks (sugar tax included of course) house whites, reds and roses with a few fancier options, plus prosecco by the glass and cocktails alongside soft drinks. I had a glass of prosecco and it was serve in a lovely coupe, which instantly made me feel fancy because clearly I need to get out more.
We shared a garlic bread with sundried tomato and olive tapenade dip to start. The tapenade is one of our favourite items from the main Italian menu, and we greedily hoovered it up with the crispy, garlicky bread. The ‘plank’ it is served on is rather too much, but I suppose it makes and impression!
My choice of pizza was the Spicy Meatball – a tomato sauce-heavy base topped with super spicy ‘nduja, fennel spiced pork meatballs, garlic and plenty of parmesan. I really enjoyed this, the base was smoky and crisp and the toppings were generous and of great quality.
Mr had a choice of three vegetarian pizzas, which was more than we expect from most restaurants. The choices included margherita, chilli freak and funghi misti, they’ll also adapt any pizza to suit so meat or other toppings can be removed or added. He chose the funghi misti which had a deeply savoury mushroom sauce (to replace the traditional tomato), a variety of roasted mushrooms, mozzarella, chervil and tarragon. The mushroom sauce was a fantastic idea, something I will be recreating, creamy and very savoury, it made for an inventive vegetarian pizza.
We both had tiramisu for pudding, served scooped out from a large bowl, it wasn’t very photogenic, but it was delicious! It was very classic, no messing about here, and the simple presentation was just right. The orange zest over the top gave a lovely perfume to the entire dish, gorgeous.
After all that pizza and tiramisu, a strong espresso rounded off our meal nicely.
Jamie’s Pizzeria is focused on great quality ingredients (many of which are sourced in the UK), simple cooking and Mr Oliver’s trademark use of big flavours. We’re glad that Cambridge was chosen as one of the first places to test out this new branch of his restaurant empire, and we’ll definitely go back for another leisurely lunch.
We dined as guests of Jamie’s Pizzeria, but all opinions are my own of course