The Elephant Pub and Bakehouse, 1 Woolton Street, Liverpool, L25 5NH. 0151 909 3909.
Pulled chilli beef, red onion, jalapeños and buffalo mozzarella £10.95.
When celebrity chef Simon Rimmer took over the Elephant pub last year he vowed to serve the best pizza in the city, developing a base recipe from “work experience” in the kitchen of Soho’s trendy Pizza Pilgrims.
Semolina-dusted dough, proved overnight, is hand turned and fired in a 350C oven. The result is a millimetre-thin, golden and crunchy moonscape onto which is firmly slapped a simple, fruity plum tomato sauce, mild red onions, just the right amount of creamy mozzarella and hot, pickled jalapeños. But the main event is the formidable dark and dangerous smoked beef chilli which has been bubbling away for 10 hours just to be scattered all over in generous shards.
On Tuesday it’s 2 for 1. But if you needed one good reason to hop onto your Vespa and head up to Woolton - anytime - then this is it.
Il Forno, 132 Duke Street, Liverpool, L1 5AG. 0151 668 0004.
Pizza Il Forno, £12.25
The restaurant's name refers to their oven; a giant, god-like, fire-breathing head which gobbles up pizza, before heating it and spitting it out again, ready for the plate. The result is stunning; soft and flavoursome with edges that are proudly puffed up and just a little chewy in a good way. The
Il Forno is a lovely balance of flavours – buffalo mozzarella, fresh rosemary, salami delivering a subtle heat, chunks of porcini mushroom, and blitzed potato fragments which managed to be both fluffy and crispy. Lunchtimes, they do a handful of toppings for a fiver. You'd be a bit stupid not to.
Ma Egerton's Stage Door
Ma Egerton's Stage Door, 9 Pudsey Street, Liverpool, L1 1JA.
0151 345 3525
Charlie Chaplin, Roast chicken breast, chargrilled roast peppers, caramelised onions with rosemary. £7.
Like Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole, Ma Egerton's is a theatrical boozer of note. Unlike them, it is very much alive and kicking.
The last couple of years have seen it go from major failhouse to major alehouse – all under the careful eye of His Landlordship actor Iain Hoskins. Slap bang opposite the Empire Theatre stage door, over the decades it has welcomed a huge array of famous punters.
It is the only city centre pub with a proper pizza oven and its Pizza Shop serves food glorious food “inspired by past patrons”.
Pizzas are take the names of illustrious customers past: Marilyn Monroe, Harry Houdini, Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra AND all are served with a name plate lest you forget it's all about them. Each boasts hefty, imaginative toppings and all as “fresh” as Osgood Fielding the Third.
Absolutely worth a visit whether waiting for curtain up or need to stoke up for a journey out of Lime Street.
The Quarter, 7 Falkner Street, Liverpool L8 7PU. 0151 707 1965.
Mediterranean pizza, £8.95.
Yoko Ono, when not wrapping herself in tin foil to imitate the distress call of a humpback whale, has enjoyed pizza here. They push the envelope; hence a New Yorker with pastrami, meatballs and goodness knows.
Sometimes less is more and their Mediterranean version is one such time: tomato sauce has the teensiest hint of the tin, but roasted peppers, aubergine, a good smattering of mozzarella and a generous scattering of basil leaves do the job nicely.
In a place that can be inconsistent, the pizza base is ever-reliable: soft, sweet and slender, crisper at the edge, but never brittle.
Maguire’s Pizza, 77 Renshaw Street, Liverpool L1 2SJ. 07535 090636
Bacon Cheeseburger 15in pizza, £10. Slices £2-£2.20
Pizza, pop music and, for the penny-conscious, a cheap and cheerful tea.
These are the USPs of Helen Maguire’s live music venue with atti-food.
It’s easy come, easy go in this tiny licensed cafe. The only place serving pizza by the slice, create your own or a full on 15 incher from 26 toppings which include everything from scorching hot bhut jolokia tomato sauce and vegan chorizo to quail eggs and falafel. There are no fewer than 12 different vegetarian and vegan varieties with geddit names such at Things Can Only Get Feta and Quorn-ado. You can even have an all-day breakfast pizza.
Here meatballs topped with melted Kraft cheese-food and bacon dot the vast crunchy, hand-kneaded surface with an added 50p throw of gutsy black olives. Total filth.
For £15, the Friday after-work offer buys you any 15in pizza, garlic knots, a bottle of wine or three cans of lager/cider. Win-win, innit?
The Italian Club, 85 Bold Street, L1 4HF. 0151 708 5508.
Signor Maurizio, £9.50.
Cut any one of the Crolla clan who run this place and they bleed the same rich tomato sauce that fires up the seafood pasta and covers the pizzas, each named after a family member. The Maurizio, in honour of the head chef, features a layer of that tomato sauce, covered in a film of mozzarella and topped with good quality parma ham and fresh basil. Help yourself to black pepper and extra virgin olive oil. The base is everything it ought to be: chewy stretchy, puffy, crispy – in all the right places.
TriBeCa, 15 Berry Street, Liverpool L1 9DF. 0151 707 2528.
The kitchen crew must suffer arm fatigue after a day of stretching dough thin enough to produce probably the slenderest bases in town and an excellent base for their 30-odd toppings, from Peking Duck to Irish Breakfast and everything in between, in surroundings that are either down with the kids or just a little down at heel, depending on your age and
point of view.
Along with tomato, mozzarella and a handful of dried herbs, the Vesuvio's heat came from spicy pepperoni, salami and explosive red chillies, resulting in beads of brow sweat and a sudden need for water.
San Carlo, 41 Castle Street, Liverpool, L2 9SH. 0151 236 0073
Pizza Proscuitto e funghi, £10.85
If your idea of excitement is bagging a Premiership footballer, necking Cristal and striking a pose for the waiting paps, this is the place.
But if you also want to impress a dinner date and can't stretch to a Lamborghini you'll probably wing it here too. For at San Carlo, you don't just get toppings, you get all the glitz, glamour, drama and charm school service Italy can offer.
However you also get tradition and their version of the classic Reine is pretty much text book. The roughly hewn base follows the Neapolitan ideal - soft and yielding, with a chewier edge and the hefty whack of mozzarella, Italian ham and shrooms is nothing short of a treat.
Olive, 25-27 Castle Street, Liverpool L2 4TA. 0151 227 2303.
Pollo Pesto £9.50
From the unrelenting hell of the wood fired oven come imperfectly formed pizzas to please all ages in this unpretentious basement which has been a family favourite for more than a decade.
Once you have removed, to the side, the dense forest of rocket heaped atop of your pizza, you will be satiated by the flavours and colours of the Med - roast chicken, roasted red peppers and a ballsy basily green pesto - over thick layers of buffalo. Knock it all back with a ripe n rounded Feudi d'Albe Montepulciano Abruzzo (£18.95).
Amalia, 1 Campbell Square, Liverpool L1 5AX. 0151 709 0402
Quattro Stagioni, £8.95.
Bang in the middle of Liverpool city centre, yet just off the beaten track in hidden Campbell Square, Amalia is a bit of a throwback to the basic grub n glug Italian restaurants of the 1990s. But that is not necessarily a bad thing and if you happen to be passing and need a high carb fix of old-school pizza, redolent of that first trip to Rome when everything tasted fantastico, you won’t be too disappointed.
The toppings on this four seasons pizza aren't especially keeping with the orthodox notion of the beast, but you won't get many hen night girls shouting "Where's me bleedin' artichokes, mate?" at the waiter. The dough is decent and crisp enough and the dishevelled appearance perhaps only adds to the rustic charm.
Who cares? A bottle of chianti (£17.50) and two straws later you won't - and Bob De Niro will, most definitely, be your uncle.
By Angie Sammons and AA Grill