Thursday, July 16, 2015

Basil Wood Fired Pizza and Café

Although I love pizza (who doesn’t?!), I’m still a long way short of trying a lot of the purported best pizza spots in Dublin. I mean the Independent Pizza Company and Da Mimmo are at least close by, but I’ve yet to try the likes of Di Fontaine’s, Manifesto or Paulie’s. Shocking, I know! Especially since all I’ve been dreaming of lately is up and flying to Naples so I can finally try the undisputed best Neapolitan pizza. Thing is, that’s expensive, and not a realistic option for whenever I crave a wood-fired slice. Luckily, I spotted a somewhat-hidden but conveniently located place that provided the perfect solution: ‘Basil’, a recently opened wood-fired pizza joint/café in Ringsend.

And when I initially drove past it, I’m pretty sure I had to double take! It had the look of an almost hole-in-the-wall, street food type of location that had popped up overnight. But I could have sworn I spotted a few chairs? Not to mention I hadn’t seen whether or not they actually did pizza, but the name was teasing it. A quick Google after I got home revealed it was like nothing I’d really seen before, but either way my interested had been piqued and there was definitely going to be some pizza had. No complaints there! Fast forward a week later and Rebecca was at a hen party for the day, so I took a big old stroll through the city centre to work up the appropriate appetite for a pizza feast.

The first thing you’ll probably notice about Basil is the somewhat cobbled-together look of the place. The gentlemen behind it all spent a good three months seemingly throwing everything and the kitchen sink into building it, so don’t be surprised if you spot cable rollers, a shipping container, old garden fencing and even a Buddha statue or two. Literally everything has been reclaimed from somewhere. The floors are lined with a faux grass carpet and canopies stick out over the tables from pretty much every direction! It all combines wonderfully to give the place a bit of an eclectic yet homely feel, like you were having lunch in the garden of that one friend who takes their mindfulness just a little bit more seriously than others. I am wondering what it’ll be like come the winter since there is only the one small indoor space, but for a nice summer’s day it could not be more perfect.

Speaking of how much effort went into building up the place, even the oven itself was entirely hand-made! And what comes out of it is definitely up there with some of the best pizza Dublin can offer, let me tell you. I ordered a plain Margherita and another with pepperoni, although the way in which you order means that you’re able to build practically any pizza you like from a list of extra toppings. Margherita is the default and you go from there; nice and uncomplicated. And starting at only €7 for a nine inch pizza (€10 for a twelve incher), Basil offers pretty much the best value you’ll find either side of the Liffey.

The pizza itself is amazing, everything I had been hoping for. The base was chewy and the crust good and crispy, perfect sauce to cheese ratio with neither overpowering the other. That said, the mozzarella is cut nice and thick so it really stands out. All too often you end up with overly cheesy pizza where the sauce is pretty much drowned out or invisible; complete sin in my book, but they got it absolutely spot on here. It’s no wonder I ended up scoffing most of the leftovers I meant to save for Rebecca (sorry! …I’m not). My only criticism is that the menu champions the pizza coming with basil and in my case at least, it was sorely missing. I asked for it myself in the end and it was happily produced, but it’s definitely something you don’t want to forget given is literally the name of the restaurant!  

They also do the rarely spotted and much fabled dessert pizza, which I am absolutely guaranteed to get no matter where I am or what I’m doing. Their version is a soft base, smothered in Nutella with banana, raspberries and cream to finish it off. Absolute decadence, you only need to look at the picture! …Although I did have to share the leftovers of that one.

Pizza aside, Basil also offers tea and coffee, as well as scoops of gelato at €1.50 a pop. They take great pride in sourcing the coffee beans which are roasted in Wicklow, and although I’m by no means a coffisseur, the latte I got wasn’t overpowering and tasted very nice. It’s a lovely spot to have a sit down and drink on a suitable day but good luck resisting the pizza if that’s not what you’re visiting for.

One final note: I was pleased to see a steady flow of people coming in and out while I was there, especially considering the wind was nearly blowing the entire place away! They’ve been open for just under three months, so it’s still very much in its infancy and word of mouth goes a long way at this point. And that being said, Basil is definitely a place people should be talking about. I mean what’s not to love about good quality, unpretentious and cheap pizza? I am still curious to see how they adjust going into the colder end of the year, but as the menu itself proclaims, they are constantly evolving so I’m sure it’ll be fine. Once the pizza stays that good, I’ll keep going back no matter what the weather! 

97, Ringsend Road,
Dublin 4

Tph: 01-2325600

Monday, March 9, 2015


At first glance, shakshuka might look like the result of a jolly in kitchen after a heavy night of drinking. Not that great things don’t come from cooking after a night out, but this particular dish (also spelled shakshouka) is in fact a one that’s much beloved across most of Northern Africa and the Middle East. Literally meaning ‘a mixture’ in Arabic Tunisian, it’s a simple combination of tomatoes, vegetables and spices which is then used to poach one or more eggs sitting on top. It’s easy to make no matter what part of the world you’re in and has countless variants that include additional ingredients like meats and cheeses. Although typically a breakfast dish, its popularity in countries like Israel have transformed it into something of an all-day affair, enjoyed in the evenings and especially during winter.

For this particular version, I included halloumi cheese to add a bit of creaminess. It’s such an easy recipe to make, comes out looking great and if you’re having a get together, is a really nice sharing dish that visually beguiles its simplicity. Ensure you have some bread to serve it with, that sauce isn’t going to mop itself up!

Serves 6

3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
½ large onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
½ tsp sugar
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (½-1 tsp if you prefer it medium-hot)
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tbs sweet paprika
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
2 400g tins of peeled plum tomatoes
200g halloumi cheese, diced
6 large eggs
Coriander leaves for garnish

Heat the oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat. Add the sliced onion and peppers and cook for approximately 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until both have softened. Then add the garlic and stir for 2 minutes until softened. Now add the paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper and sugar, mixing it until the pepper and onions are well coated. 

The tinned tomatoes can now be added; ensure you break up the tomatoes well and stir until the contents of the pan are well mixed. Allow to reduce for 15-20 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Add the diced halloumi and stir it in. 

Before you add the eggs, make sure to push little indents into the surface of the sauce so that the yolks do not run away from you and become unevenly spaced. Now crack each egg and gently drop them evenly around the pan. Cover with a lid and allow the eggs to poach for 13-15 minutes, or until the yolks and whites have just set. 

Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper to your taste. Garnish with the coriander leaves and serve with bread. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Very, *Very* Belated Japanese Food Adventure

Shortly after I went on, er… ‘hiatus’ in 2011, I travelled to Japan to visit my brother who’s been working there for a good three years now at least (I’ll have to check up on him with that, it’s been so long!). It was a two week trip that was unfortunately punctuated by the Tōhoku earthquake but luckily we ended up being nowhere near some of the worst affected areas. I went there with grand plans to use the experience as a means to kick start myself into writing again by giving an in depth look at all of the different foods I’d be trying. Obviously, that never happened. Sorry everyone!

So, to make it up to you, here’s a very belated and condensed summary of places I went to and foods I tried. Japanese cuisine is one of my absolute favourites, so to say that I went there with tunnel vision is a bit of an understatement! I didn’t get to eat everything I wanted but in a country where delicious food is available on pretty much every street you wander down, it’s a fairly minor complaint to come out with.

First stop was Kyoto, featuring a nearly three kilometre walk along Teramachi Dori and the surrounding market streets. Here you’ll find anything from seafood to hand crafted kitchen wares and a rake of Japanese fast food stalls. The variety is incredible, and every stall is in some way unique from the next.

Fried kamaboko (kind of a seafood paste), Kyoto 

Plastic/wax food displays outside of most restaurants, Kyoto

Dorayaki pancake machine in Teramachi Dori, Kyoto

 Food display, a bit more cute this time! Kyoto

Octopus stuffed with a boiled quail egg on a stick (I'm sure there's a name for it), Kyoto

Kyoto is also famed for the diversity of its food, and it was here I probably tried the biggest range of dishes, from unagi to conveyor sushi and mitarashi dango. The city has such an amazing, old world feel to it, and restaurants are hidden in literally every nook and cranny; half the time it’s impossible to tell what might and might not be one!

Bamboo shoot kushiyaki with yam jelly, Kyoto

Musashi Sushi moving window display, Kyoto

Tuna tartare gunkanmaki in Mushashi Sushi, Kyoto

Mitarashi dango (grilled rice dumplings in a sweet soy sauce) Kyoto

Matcha green tea with rakugan at Kinkaku-ji Tea House

Tamagoyaki (omelette) over unagi and rice at Kaneyo, Kyoto

On a side note, If you haven’t ever had the pleasure of trying katsu curry yet, I urge you to check out your nearest Japanese restaurant and fix that problem. It’s the perfect blend of crispiness and juiciness, which when mixed with Japanese curry and rice becomes the most amazing comfort food. It’s quite probably my favourite dish, so no prizes for guessing which kind of restaurant I was on the lookout for. As luck would have it, our first hostel was a few steps up the road from a little placed called Café Curry Sakakura. Jackpot. For whatever reason, I didn’t take many pictures there but the menu alone just goes to show that if there’s any kind of meat or veg you like, chances are you’ll be able to get it fried up and served with curry.

Katsu curry everything!

The next major city we visited was Osaka. Known as the ‘nation’s kitchen’, it’s home to one of Japan’s most distinctive street foods, takoyaki. We’d already tried some in Kyoto so regrettably I passed up the chance while I was there, but I did instead try some fugu, the notorious puffer fish. This was in Zuboraya, one of many specialist fugu restaurants you’d find in Dōtonbori; the neon lit, night crawling central neighbourhood where eating, drinking, shopping and tourism all come together. If I’d had the money or the time, I probably would have ended up trying every single one of the restaurants there but as it happens, we could only spend a couple of hours exploring. Maybe next time!

Takoyaki street vendor, Osaka

Fugu shabu-shabu in Zuboraya, Osaka

And then came Tokyo. Halfway through our time there, Japan was hit by the Tōhoku earthquake so the city slowed down considerably in the aftermath. Nonetheless, we still got to eat in one or two izakayas, ramen joints and of course, a katsu curry restaurant. It was actually just as we finished having a lunch that the earthquake happened! And even though we had to high tail it outside into the street, we didn’t forget to go back and pay the bill.

Ramen, Tokyo

Yakitori, Tokyo

Gyoza, Tokyo

Yet more ramen, Tokyo

Vending machines, everywhere!

Last but definitely not least, the highlight of the trip for me was Tsukiji Fish Market. I wasn’t so dedicated that I got up at three in the morning to see the tuna auctions, but I did arrive early enough to experience its legendary organised chaos. Afterwards, we did the only thing one should do; had a sushi breakfast in a nearby restaurant called Tsukiji Sushi Sen. It was the first time I’d ever tasted sea urchin and I only wish it were easier to find in restaurants on this side of the world because it was every bit as delicious as I’d been told. Definitely not your traditional breakfast, but it ranks up there amongst the best I’ve ever had.

Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo

Sushi platter at Tsukiji Sushi Sen, Tokyo

All in all, the food of Japan was everything I had hoped for and my only regret is that I didn’t try more! But that’s a very convenient excuse to revisit someday, which I will. When that happens, I promise not to leave it another four years before I actually write something about it.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Smoke Potion Hot Sauce by the Chilli Alchemist

I’ve gotten used to receiving food related gifts at Christmas by now, but this year I got something from two of my friends that I’d never heard of before; ‘Smoke Potion’ hot sauce from a company called ‘the Chilli Alchemist’. No, it wasn’t anything to do with mysticism or Fullmetal Alchemist tributes. Rather, it’s a sauce made and sold by a chilli expert from Bristol. I was waiting for an excuse to use it and by sheer coincidence, a shoulder of pork magically appeared last week. Now that it’s just as magically disappeared again along with most of the sauce, I can finally talk about it!

Okay, I admit. Part of the reason it’s taken two months to open is that it just looked so pretty and ornamental! I didnt want to ruin the wax they’d used to seal it, the effect is fantastic. What I’d been given is one of their ‘apothecary bottles’, which cost £8.50 apiece (sorry Eimear/Phil, I had to know). Normal bottles of their sauces will only set you back £3.99, but the premium you pay for the apothecary style is more than worth it if you know a chilli lover and want to impress them with your gifting skills. Part of me wants to buy all seven flavours and just use them as decorations for my kitchen, but we all know that they would only last for so long.

Taste wise, the Smoke Potion is fairly in line with what you’d expect from a smoky barbecue sauce. It’s not as sweet as your average commercial sauce and it has a nice tang to it. The chipotle chillies take over from there, leading into a low burn toward the middle and back of your mouth. It’s classed as a medium spicy sauce on the Chilli Alchemist website but I personally found it to be on the milder of medium. And of course it’s full of smoky flavour, as the name suggests! It went perfectly with my pulled pork and didn't get lost in the spicing that was already on the meat.

As I mentioned before, the Chilli Alchemist has a range of sauces available on their website with some pretty big hitters on the Scoville scale if anybody is feeling particularly adventurous (try ‘the Everlasting Flame’ or ‘Purus’ at your peril). The man behind it all, Jay Webley, has an obvious passion for peppers and it’s worth noting that many of the chillies used for the sauces are home grown! Do NOT attempt to nick anything edible from this man’s garden.

So with interest in sauce variety growing ever larger (just look at your supermarket's condiment section if you dont believe me!), it's great to see an independent business like the Chilli Alchemist adding a bit of spice to the market. I'm looking forward to trying some of their other sauces so this probably won't be the last you'll hear of them from me, especially since I've just noticed they're also experimenting with ice cream and popping candy! Whatever next?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Pitt Bros BBQ Project

I’ve always dreamed about opening a restaurant. It seemed like a natural way for things to unfold what with me spending so much time in them, the joy of cooking and so on. Of course, I lack both the experience and vast funds necessary so I chose the only realistic alternative: keep on eating and become a blogger! *triumphant fanfare*

Not that I didn’t have a plan for if I did open a restaurant mind. We love adopting American culture here in Ireland, but I was always puzzled by the lack of an all-out American style barbecue restaurant, in Dublin or anywhere for that matter! Maybe I’d just spent too many evenings watching Diners, Drive ins and Dives, but I just didn’t understand how dishes like sweet pulled pork, smoked brisket and racks of finger licking, sticky ribs hadn’t already become a feature while other niche markets like gourmet burgers, burrito bars and grilled chicken were already exploding. No matter, I’d spotted the gap and if I won the lottery or somehow gained magical cooking skills, it was mine. Well, it had been until I was walking down George’s Street and noticed three neon red letters that spelled BBQ, framed by an equally neon pig shaped street sign.

And so I discovered Pitt Bros BBQ Project, the barbecue venue Dublin had been waiting for and I had been dreaming of running. Dammit! Ah well, at least I now had a good source of barbecued meat to soothe the pain, and that is exactly what it did. That was in 2013, and I’ve since eaten there at least five times. What better place then to visit so I can get back into the swing of writing? Not that I’m looking for an excuse to eat my weight in barbecued meat or anything.

This time, I went with my good friend Damien who is a confessed fan of barbecue but for whatever reason had never heard of Pitt Bros. I’d be lying if he was the first friend I’ve forced to go there, but thankfully none of them ended up regretted the kidnappings! And given the queue running out the door that greeted us when we arrived, I’m clearly not the only one doing it. My advice: try to avoid lunch time and dinner peak hours unless you can get there early or don’t mind waiting; I’ve never seen the place with a table to spare at either times and reservations are not taken so you might have fifteen/twenty minutes to kill. That said, the atmosphere is always buzzing and it’s a great place to have a social gathering if you can manage it.

When you do get your seat, things work very much like they do at say Nando’s where you pick what you like but order and pay up at the counter. It’s a straightforward system in a restaurant that takes a similarly straightforward approach with its food and menu in general. You won’t find starters, mains and desserts here, no specials or drinks menu, all you get is just a single page with ten meal options and seven sides. It’s pure, uncomplicated barbecue and comfort food, exactly as it should be.

Yet still it’s hard to choose something! Every time I’ve been I find myself agonising over whether to get a bun filled with pulled pork or just a plate with a few big slices of smoked brisket. Even after that there are other items I’ve yet to try like their ribs, sausage, half chicken or burger. When everything tastes good, it’s a problem in itself! This time I eventually went for the brisket on its own while Damien opted – on my insistence – for the Pitt Master’s combo, a bun (courtesy of the not-too-distant Bretzel Bakery) filled with brisket, pulled porn and a fried onion ring. Both come with some pickles and slathered in the house barbecue sauce, of which you can apply more at your leisure from the squeeze bottles on every table (hot sauce and a Carolina dressing included!). All meals also come with at least one side included as well, so please, for the love of all things that are delicious, do yourself a favour and try the macaroni and cheese. I won’t even describe it, it is just one of those dishes every city has that you simply have to try at least once. 

As for the meat, it’s as tender, crumbly and absolutely delicious as you’d expect from a fourteen hour, overnight stay in a smoker. My brisket fell apart the moment I took a fork to it and it was deceptively filling, every bite an explosion of hearty, barbecue goodness. Damien absolutely loved his Pitt Master’s combo, though he did a better job at polishing off his food that I did! Serves me right for ordering a second side. Speaking of which, all of the barbecue support acts like slaw, fries and corn on the cob are there, in addition to some of the more decadent sides like burnt end beans or bone marrow mash. There’s even homemade lemonade on offer, along with a respectable choice of craft beers and some wine available if it takes your fancy.

All the while, none of this food will set you back any more than twenty euros. Okay, I’ll rephrase it, if you want to stand any chance of clearing your plate, it shouldn’t cost you any more than twenty. All of the main meals clock in between ten and fourteen euros which is tremendous value, considering they come with at least one side anyway. Want another? It only sets you back €3.50. Oh, and everyone gets a free soft serve ice cream for dessert! But be warned, the machine has a bit of a kick so you might end up covered in it if you aren’t careful.

One other thing that desperately deserves a mention is the smart design that’s gone into the restaurant. You can tell whoever’s behind it has a genuine understanding of what barbecue means, as everything from the steel drum light fittings and wooden log counter front to the tin plates and rolls of kitchen towel at each table gives off exactly the kind of relaxed and rustic vibe you’d expect of an actual barbecue gathering. I can’t think of one other restaurant in Dublin where the look and feel goes so hand in glove with the food it creates, and it’s a wonderful, oft-overlooked thing to see.

So that is Pitt Bros in a semi-nutshell. Vegetarians beware, meat loves rejoice! They may have dashed my dream somewhat, but in doing so they’ve made authentic barbecue much more accessible to the Dublin public and filled a niche that was painfully wanting. If you haven’t already been, go now. And if you know me, take me with you. 

Pitt Bros BBQ Project
Unit 1, Wicklow House,
George's Street,
Dublin 2

Tph: 01-6778777

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Just a Quick Update

Hi everyone!

Just a quick update; I know it’s been roughly four years since I last posted anything so before I jump back in,  I’d just like to reaffirm that yes, I am alive and (mostly) healthy, and have neither forgotten about this place or how much I enjoy talking/writing/thinking about food. Also eating it, minor detail! I may have tried to forget at times, but thankfully my long suffering partner Rebecca wouldn’t let me.

In the time I’ve been absent, I’ve kept myself busy either cooking or eating out when I can, so all that’s left is to get some posts written and hopefully produce something useful. My focus remains restaurant reviews, but I’ve definitely learned a thing or two extra about cooking in the interim; fingers crossed you may actually get one or two half decent recipes out of it!

So thank you to everyone who’s visited and commented in the meantime, all the nice things you've said mean a lot to me and I promise I’ll be a lot more present going forward. Watch this space, with any luck (and a meal or two to write about) I’ll shortly be of some help in finding you all the best places to eat in Dublin and/or anywhere I go. 

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Hell (closed)

Kris Kristofferson once said that “the Devil haunts a hungry man”. He may not have delved into the specific food types that Satan uses to tempt us, but everybody has their own preferred indulgence; for some it’s chocolate, others a plate of curly fries. One dish you can expect to find its way into almost any list of sinful comfort foods is pizza, truth be told perhaps the most popular food in the western world! And here in Dublin, we have the added benefit of being able to order it piping hot from the ovens of Hell itself. No, not Lucifer’s cooking range; what I’m referring to is Hell pizzeria of Wexford Street (sorry, the devil’s in the details).

Now I must admit that the first couple of times I saw Hell, I thought it was just a normal takeaway with a catchy name. Then again, this had always been at ten o’clock on a Friday evening with more than a handful of banteriffic lads spilling in and out the door! It wasn’t until my good friend Áine invited us into town for what she described as a ‘hunt for gourmet pizza’ that I finally took the time to look at Hell’s menu and realised exactly what it was they were offering. Five pizzas later and I was kicking myself not only for never having taken a closer look in the first place, but also neglecting to bring my camera to take the mandatory snapshots of what we’d just eaten (not for the first, seventh or twenty-sixth time either). Ever since then I’d been itching to return and photograph the food for a proper review, not to mention enjoy it! Thankfully, my friend and DVD jockey Niamh was recently in the mood for a lunch outing and although I mentioned several possibilities, I’d already made up my mind as to where we’d be heading.

*Fade in AC/DC’s Highway to Hell*

Before I get into the nitty gritty, let me fill you in on a bit of Hell’s back story. Like many a modern ‘gourmet’ restaurant, it serves unfamiliar variations on a familiar food type. Think ingredients that you look at and wonder how exactly such a combination is meant to work, yet alone when introduced to something like a pizza base. It’s the hallmark of an adventurous cooking style that originates all the way from far flung regions such as California or – in Hell’s case – New Zealand. Before this recent visit, I actually hadn’t the foggiest that Hell is a very popular restaurant chain in the Southern Hemisphere with multiple outlets feeding Kiwis and Aussies alike. The Wexford Street branch is one of a few locations to have opened across the UK and Ireland since 2006 when the franchise was being expanded further afield. Officially speaking, ours is a ‘pilot’ store, but hopefully that will change in the not too distant future. If Callum, Stu and Otis (Hell’s Kiwi founders) are reading this then here’s advice/plea on the matter: open a branch in North Dublin City, preferably smack bang in the middle of Beaumont. There’ll be little to no competition and you’re guaranteed to have one very loyal customer! Anyhow, back to Niamh and I’s journey into the pizza inferno.

Half of the fun in visiting Hell is to simply witness how stylishly designed the restaurant’s interior is. No opportunity to exploit the devilish theme is wasted, with cracked mirrors lining the wall, bare bulb lighting, red velvet curtains and a trio of big LCD screens that – depending on the day you visit – will either be displaying tongues of fire or Murnau’s Nosferatu.

Food is served on beaten metal dishes with ‘remains’ given to you in coffin shaped pizza boxes. Even the landline phone number ends with a 666! Literally everything that can be done to earn Hell the right to its name has been covered, bar being a deliberately unpleasant place to eat. It’s an altogether remarkable dedication to an image that you seldom see in most modern restaurants, yet alone one of many in a franchise.

When it comes to the menu there’s no let up in the Satanic send off either; the first handful of pizzas listed are affectionately named after lust, envy, pride and the rest of the seven deadly sins. Further on you’ll find the likes of ‘serpent’, ‘brimstone’ and ‘Mordor’, which feature some of the more exotic topping combinations.

If you’re expecting to find a basic margherita in Hell then you can forget about it; the closest thing to your average set pizza on the menu is a double ham, pineapple and cheese affair. There’s a create your own option if none of the pre-made choices tickle your fancy, and all pizzas come available in two sizes (seven/eight euro for an individual serving, fourteen/sixteen for a double). Oh, and you can order a cute ‘333’ size for the kids. In addition to Hell’s main fare they serve a decent selection of sides, salads, beer and wine, not to mention ‘dessert pizza’ which I’ll tell you all about very shortly.

So, after spending the best part of a decade oogling at not only the menu but also the restaurant itself, Niamh and I made our choice. She went for the brimstone (a Mexican style pizza with the whole shebang; avocado, onions, salsa, Cajun chicken and sour cream), whilst I chose purgatory (sun dried tomatoes, spinach, feta, onions, mushrooms, garlic and kalamata olives). The last time I’d eaten in Hell we’d tried some delicious wedges called kumara chips but unfortunately they weren’t available on the occasion. Shame, they’re almost identical to your average sweet potato chip; something I’ve a major weakness for! We settled for some Cajun wedges with a garlic mayo dip instead.

Ultimately, both of the pizzas were a success. I put this down largely to the base, which slots nicely into perfect thickness territory. It’s substantial enough to withstand the loaded toppings in most cases, but thin enough so as to not preclude any flavour – a very important aspect when you serve pizza with the likes of apricot and stilton cheese!

Niamh enjoyed her helping which had a distinct Mexican twang to it, whilst mine was definitely in and amongst the more flavoursome vegetarian pizzas I’ve eaten. The only let down was the Cajun wedges, which were just a bit too much on the salty side to properly enjoy.

As good as the savoury pizzas were, the star of the show on this particular day was the aforementioned pizza dessert. Unlike most other pizzerias that stick to the usual formula of ice cream, cheese cake and pie for afters, Hell offers us an interesting twist on their food of focus by serving a normal bread base covered in lashings of custard and other delightful sweet toppings.

At only a mere four euro, the combination of banana, chocolate and mixed berries was too enticing to resist, and it arrived looking even better than either of us could have imagined! The taste: absolutely divine. What else would you expect of hot custard laced with melting chocolate?

In total we paid just over twenty five euro for what effectively ended up being a two course meal for both of us; exceptional value when you consider the quality of food you get. Niamh was both impressed, and patient enough to wait for me whilst I chatted with the staff and Bruce, the head chef. If I didn't enough at the time, I'd like to thank him for giving me a great photo opportunity with a wonderfully presented dessert!

Hell is a rare example of a catering franchise that has a very obvious soul and sense of humour behind the ins and out of how it's run. The philosophy of their gourmet pizza is to present us with inventive and unusual creations, whilst their dedication to a very novel and 'damned' interesting theme goes far beyond anything else I've witnessed on such a large scale. Most importantly of all, they've given me a fantastic chance to get a few terrible puns into this write up. So, if you're disollusioned with any other Dublin pizerrias, then all I can say is that you should go to Hell.

32, Wexford Street,
Dublin 2
Tph: 1890-456-666