With the shine wearing off golden boy Jamie Oliver, KATHERINE MACALISTER finds out whether his pizzeria is still in the pink
JAMIE Oliver has had some less than favourable press in recent years.
There have been restaurant closures and he’s also pulled out of Oxfordshire’s Big Feastival, which until now he hosted with Blur’s Alex James.
A case of too-many-fingers-in-too-many-pukka-smashed-pea-and-pulled-pork-pies perhaps?
The golden boy of cooking has finally fallen on his knees in the playground and is frantically picking the grit out and wondering what happens next.
Not that you’d know in Oxford of course where business carries on as usual, his first restaurant situated right in the middle of theatreland in George Street, still busy if not heaving.
And right next door is his lesser known pizzeria, of which there are very few in the country, and it is here that I sneak off to now and again when I fancy a really good pizza with the kids.
We love it because you can watch them being made, with great ingredients, in a proper pizza oven, producing top notch, great tasting and good value pizzas every time.
The margherita is only £6.95 – half the price of many Oxford establishments (at Pizza Express it’s £10.55).
At 5.30pm it was understandably quiet, but with the curtains going up at Oxford Playhouse at 7pm, we were on a tight schedule.
The pizzeria is situated next to Jamie’s main restaurant tucked away down Gloucester Street in the basement, so rather dark, but our waitress was cheerful and the menu varied with some new additions too.
Starting off with some lovely oily mozzarella and rosemary garlic bread, as well as the truffled cheese variety, we chose our mains carefully, opting in the end for a bit of everything: the angry pepperoni (£9.95) with crushed tomatoes, pepperoni, ‘nduja, mozzarella and aged Parmesan, the said margherita, the polpette ( a vastly reasonable £8.95) which included crushed tomatoes, pork and fennel meatballs, mozzarella, garlic and Parmesan, and a gamberetti (£9.95) with crushed tomatoes, marinated prawns, mozzarella, capers, rocket and lemon.
As the pizzas are homemade they come in all different shapes and sizes and boy they were good.
Generous, oily, pungent, the dough was fantastic and you eat it crusts and al, those lovely puffy black burnt bits proving how its been proved properly first.
The sauce was deep and rich and the mozzarella generous. Even the olives were top notch, not those hollowed out tasteless black ones of yesteryear, but properly tasty.
The angry pepperoni kept Mr Greedy busy, the margherita disappeared in a trace, only the polpette was left, but then my daughter chose badly, the meatballs being quite strongly flavoured with fennel, more of a manly dish perhaps. My gamberetti was heavenly.
Sadly we didn’t have time for dessert as the theatre called, but I had my eye on the affogato (coffee poured on ice cream for a very reasonable £3.95).
So I hope Jamie Oliver’s Oxford pizzeria isn’t going anywhere soon because it’s cheap, tasty, quick and authentic.
We’re in for the long term.
Jamie's Pizzeria Oxford
24-26 George Street? ?(Gloucester Street Entrance)
Monday - Sunday -5pm–10pm
Saturday 12 noon–10pm
Sunday 12 noon–8pm
01865 838 383