There’s nothing quite like rounding off a long and busy day than donning your PJs and sprawling out on the sofa with a delicious slice of pizza. The smell of it alone is enough to send your cares floating away.
But while it may be better known as a trusty takeaway option, there are other ways of enjoying a slice or two than out of a cardboard box. Pizza just tastes better when it’s cooked using the finest and freshest ingredients and is brought to your table piping hot – and Leeds is home to an abundance of great pizzerias. Claire Schofield picks out 8 of the very best.
Everything about this restaurant screams refinement. The interior is contemporary and stylish, and the light silvery shades make it feel light, airy and relaxing. It has class, yet it’s not pretentious. The staff are friendly and inviting, the service is impressively speedy, but always delivered with a smile, and the food is refreshingly down to earth. The menu has all the classic Italian staples – the pizzas, the pastas, the risottos – and there are a few other choices on offer if the classics don’t take your fancy, including burgers, chargrilled chicken breast, or fillet of salmon.
But you can’t pay a visit to Prezzo without tasting their pizza. There are dozens of options to choose from, all hand-stretched and stone-baked to order on a delightfully thin crispy base. Choose from a classic, light, or V.I.P. base depending on how hungry you are, but be warned, even the light dishes are generously sized. The range of toppings is pretty extensive to say the least, and there’s a few more unusual options thrown in, like the pulled pork or the salmone, which adds a nice bit of variety. Whatever flavours you choose, it’s guaranteed to be delicious.The Light, 13 The Headrow, LS1 8TL (0113 246 1910, website)
On a mission to provide the most authentic Neapolitan pizza, Ecco Pizzeria in Headingley has gone back to basics. Expect no fancy stuffed crusts or deep pan options in this place, but rather an awesome simplicity which utilises centuries old wood fired cooking methods to capture a taste of Naples – the birthplace of pizza.
And with ingredients imported from Italy, along with seasonal ingredients sourced from local farmers and artisan producers, this restaurant really does provide an authentic slice of Italian cuisine. The pizzas come as either a half-metre flat bread, complete with two different toppings, or the traditional round 12-inch. There’s a host of choices, ranging from the classic Margherita and the Marinara to more carnivorous creations like the spicy meatball pizza or the Ecco, made with strips of marinated woodfired chicken, roasted tricolour peppers and mushrooms. Cooked to perfection in only 90 seconds, this fine pizza place is hard to beat.
93 Otley Road, LS6 3PS (0113 278 2828, website)
Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen may be better known as a popular music venue, but it ought to get more recognition for serving up some of the finest pizza in the city. Served by the slice, or whole if you prefer, Dough Boys dish is the perfect place to drop by to grab a quick bite for a reasonable price.
The menu may not be massively extensive but it is certainly varied, often changing daily so each visit is different. And the inventively named pizza pies do add a bit of comical charm to the quirky venue. There’s the ‘Screaming Goat’ (made with a load of creamed goat’s cheese), the ‘Sausage Fest’ (a load of sausage, obviously), and the ‘Baa No More’ (spiced ground lamb) among many others, all packed full of flavour from local sourced ingredients. It’s creative, inventive and quite unlike your average pizza joint.
1-1A Cross Belgrave Street, LS2 8JP (0113 246 0744, website)
It may be located quite a way outside of the city centre in Cookridge, but that’s no reason to dismiss this elegantly decorated Italian ristorante. Built around a 200 year olive tree laced with twinkling fairy lights, the interior is warm, elegant and enchanting. The restaurant prides itself on its use of well sourced suppliers who use only the most traditional, natural and sustainable methods to provide the finest and freshest ingredients.
Cooked using a wood fired oven and their very own signature sweet tomato sauce base, their pizzas are both flavoursome and satisfying. The dough for the delightfully crispy base is made on site using a recipe from a Tuscan monk called Palo (apparently), and it’s topped with an array of inventive toppings – the roasted crispy duck on a hoi sin base with spring onion and cucumber being one of the more unusual pizza options.
151 Otley Old Road, LS16 6HN (0113 267 2100, website)
Dining out at Bibis is quite an experience. Home to a bustling cocktail bar and, somewhat bizarrely, a stage on which tribute acts perform at Bibis Showtime, this 1920s styled restaurant is a one-off from all the rest. The place can get a little crowded on weekends or later in the evening thanks to its popular bar, but it’s worth braving the queues to sample their irresistible pizzas. Using the highest quality locally sourced ingredients, the crispy and flavoursome pizzas make your taste buds sing.
This place isn’t stingy with the toppings, with the majority of pizzas on the menu loaded with at least five, but if you really want a fantastic pizza feast the calzones are well worth a try. They are stuffed to the brim with meats, melt-in-your-mouth mozzarella, and a generous helping of tangy tomato sauce (the sheer size of them means you really needn’t bother with a starter or dessert). It’s a tad pricey here yes, and booking ahead would be well advised, but for an indulgent pizza treat it merits a visit.
Criterion Place, Sovereign Street, LS1 4AG (0113 243 0905, website)
The pizza menu at Sela may not be the most vast or the most inventive menu you’ll ever lay eyes on, but who wants fancy when the basics are done so well? Stone baked and cooked to order, the pizzas at Sela are crisp and light and made with tasty locally sourced and homemade ingredients, which makes the food feel very authentically Italian.
Alongside the classic Margherita, there are some more exotic flavour options such as the ‘Chorizo’, made with spiced Spanish chorizo, roasted red peppers and mozzarella, and the ‘Diavola’, comprised of roasted red peppers, chili, jalapenos and mozzarella. You might need a glass of water after that one. Despite a very thin base the pizzas are filling, but if you can stomach it there are a couple of side orders and desserts to tuck into as well. And if it so takes your fancy, you could always round off a good night of eating with a drink at Sela Bar.
20 New Briggate, LS1 6NU (0113 242 9442, website)
Leeds is home to a mass of Italian restaurants, but LIVIN’ Italy is probably one of the lesser known. Hidden away on Granary Wharf, it’s one of the city’s best kept secrets for great Italian cuisine. The wooden decor gives the place a nice rustic vibe which all feels very Italian and the wooden boards used in place of plates does bring a certain charm to the dining experience.
One of the best things about pizzas at LIVIN’ Italy, aside from their great taste, is the very loose menu. With only a few set pizza options you don’t have to feel constrained by a fixed menu, on which there could nearly always be at least one ingredient shoved on the pizza that you don’t like. Here, you can run free and create your own customised pizza with as many or as few toppings as you like. The world’s your oyster.
Granary Wharf, Little Neville Street, LS1 4BR (0113 243 0090, website)
With more than a handful of awards to its name, including a nod of approval from acclaimed chef Gordon Ramsay, it’s little wonder that Salvo’s is widely regarded as one of the best Italian restaurants in Leeds. The pizzas are irresistibly crispy and thin and packed with mouth-watering flavours. The only trouble you’ll have is deciding what to pick, as their rather broad menu will spoil you for choice.
But if you’re looking for something a bit more out of the ordinary, why not opt for their pizza kiev, stuffed with chicken, ham, garlic butter and cheese, or the calzone loaded to burst with spinach, mushrooms, garlic, onions and tomato? And to top off the endless list of choices, Salvo’s also serves up pizzas suitable for vegetarians and coeliacs. Drop by for a slice of the best pizza pie in town.
111-115 Otley Road, LS6 3PX (0113 275 5017, website)
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