Five different bases and even the burgers are served in pizza dough
At first glance, it might seem like any other high street pizzeria, but look a little deeper and you’ll discover that Blend Pizza and Tastelab have gone into an extraordinary level of detail.
The owners are is Italian chef Eduardo, who previously worked at the highly esteemed San Carlo, Pizza chef is Rocco, who is a master of his craft and Gaetano who is a highly esteemed pastry chef.
They offer not one, but five different pizza bases including the more traditional Napolitan for a thicker crust; nutrient rich wholemeal; a gluten free base and the more unusual five grain which uses a wholesome mixture of cereal, rye, linseed, oat, spelt and soy.
Spend five minutes with Rocco and you’ll never look at pizza in the same way again. Given half the chance, he’ll go into great depth about different grains and flours, proving time, texture, moisture, crust, cooking times and temperatures. Pizza might have the reputation of being a globally known fast food, but done properly, there’s almost nothing more satisfying. The better ones (like those at Blend) manage to be crusty, light and chewy with a perfect balance of toppings, neither too wet or to dry.
Blend are in the process of tweaking their launch menu, as they’ve only been open a few weeks, but once you’ve chosen your dough, pizzas are divided into three types; pizza rosse with a tomato sauce on the base; pizze bianche on a white base with no tomato sauce and pizzas with a special flavoured bases.
Within pizza rosse, you’ll find classics such as Margherita with the Italian triumvirate tomato, basil and mozzarella (upgrade to more authentic buffalo mozzarella for an extra £2) and others piled high with classic Italian ingredients like fennel sausages and roast peppers, or a spicy pizza with n’duja, salami and spianata. If less meaty options are more your thing, go for goats cheese and red onion marmalade pizza, or the 100% vegan pizza topped with mushrooms, artichokes, roast peppers and dairy free mozzarella.
Pizze bianche (or white pizzas) are less common in the UK, but tomato haters love them. The silky cheese base really enhances toppings such as rocket, parma ham, mushrooms and truffle. Also, what’s quite lovable is that although Blend might be trying to produce a better class of pizza, they’re not above including one with the classic favourite tuna and sweetcorn.
Blend are so proud of their delicious dough, they’ve included it in all sorts of other dishes. Start with a wheel of puffed up and crispy garlic bread – plain or with cheese or tomato, or a basket of homemade bread sticks dipped in olive oil.
If you don’t fancy a pizza, then try one of their burgers (Angus beef, guacamole chicken, fish with tartar sauce or vegan lentil and mushroom patty) but they don’t come in a generic brioche bun. Blend’s burgers are served in their own special pizza bun (softer than ciabatta and it doesn’t fall apart when you pick it up) along with fries and special Bloody Mary ketchup.
Eduardo and Rocco are both Italian, so of course there are delicious pasta dishes on the menu like luxurious truffle mac ‘n’ cheese and home made fresh pasta lasagne. Anyone avoiding carbs is catered for too with a choice of steaks, chicken Milanese, grilled chicken with a wine and caper sauce, pan fried sea bass and a selection of fresh salads.
The Italian love of sweet things is no secret. Eduardo has hired a pastry chef to oversee the dolce, so leave room for homemade puddings such as tiramisu, chocolate brownie, crème brulee, the day’s special house dessert or classic Italian gelato (with a vegan vanilla version too, of course.)
Quality ingredients are key and over 80% have been specially sourced and imported from close contacts in Italy. Everything else comes from trusted suppliers Eduardo has built a relationship with over the years.
Eduardo has a real sense of the different ways people like to eat out so has created a drinks menu to accompany a range of options for family dining, girls nights out and anyone wanting to push the boat out a bit. There is a simple cocktail list, a range of Italian soft drinks, draught or bottled beers and an expansive wine list that spans accessible and familiar house wines to more extravagant and elegant bottles such as Solatio Castello Albola or Prosecco and Champagne – because pizza and fizz is pretty much anyone’s idea of a balanced diet.
Blend might be another independent suburban high street pizza restaurant in a competitive market, but there’s definitely room for this lovely one.