Peter Pizza

March 23, 2015

The Leicester Mercury hasn’t got around to posting my recent review of Peter Pizza in Leicester so I’ll give you the gist of it here. Long term readers may remember me writing enthusiastically about the Loughbourough  branch in 2013 and of plans for a Leicester opening.

WP_20150305_20_56_24_ProIt finally opened on Valentine’s Day this year  in one of our landmark buildings, the handsome Grade II listed Welford Place. This was formerly home to The Leicestershire Club and to a fine dining restaurant, before most recently suffering the indignity of hosting a cheesy 70s disco.

Pizza has also been subjected to indignities in this country and the Italians behind Peter feel on something of a mission to change that perception. These pizza bases are made from sourdough which has been fermented for 20 hours and the other ingredients – which do not involve chicken tikka or barbecue sauce – include Italian sausage made for them locally by Woodhouse Farm, small batch olive oil from an all-female co-operative in Italy, San Marzano tomatoes from the slopes of Vesuvius. The pizzas are blasted in a handmade wood-fired oven for ninety seconds to give a distinctive char.

It’s a compelling story, but there’s more to explain. This feels less of a restaurant more a friendly but slightly gone-to-seed social club. Downstairs there are two rooms – all mismatched furniture and lightweight tables that can be hastily rearranged as different sized groups come and go. Half the walls are just rough plastered, half have wallpaper featuring film posters. I should add I wasn’t too chuffed with our table, it was in a gloomy little corner that need some light. The front room facing down Welford Road is designated the breakfast room where you can start the day with the likes of truffled scrambled eggs or nutella croissants.

Sorry there's pictures of the loos and not of pizza, but the loos are interesting

Sorry there’s pictures of the loos and not of pizza, but the loos are interesting

Upstairs there’s a big bookable meeting room, a games room for diners with football tables and table tennis, quirky toilets with stalls made from individual garden sheds, and a further overflow room with random features such as those hairdryer hoods from from your mum’s hairdressers.

Enough of the concept, let’s review the food. Trying to ensure we covered as much of the menu as possible, we started with antipasti. There was fiery Calabrian salami, soft and creamy (vegetarian) fior de latte mozzarella, super cherry tomatoes that – unusually in my experience – actually tasted of tomato, piles of mortadella and several varieties of olives. In retrospect though, this was a mistake. Not because the quality of the food wasn’t great but because there was just too much of it and it would subsequently take the edge off our enjoyment of the pizza. At £6.00 a person I’ve no real problem with the value for money but smaller, cheaper plates – or a sharing version – would improve things.

The pizza menu is short and well-priced, starting with a simple margherita at £6 and then the rest ordered by number. My number two had the addition of that excellent Italian sausage, my friend’s number 7 came with more salami and ham. They didn’t quite have that crisp lightness I remember from my visit to the Loughborough branch but the sourdough and the charring give distinctive tangs, while the non-greasy cheese and the sweet tomatoes are a huge improvement on your standard delivery pizza.

A word for the wine too. No big wine list but a small selection from the same family-owned vineyard in Piedmont. I had a glass – actually it was a tumbler, that’s Peter’s style – of the Dolcetto d’Alba, a soft, medium bodied red with a lovely creamy mouthfeel. There’s no need for a £50 Super Tuscan here – this was fine stuff for a pizza.

At a time when the informal dining scene is increasingly dominated by dull, cynical even, chains who mimic individuality and feign character, it’s terrific to have a place such as Peter. It may not be perfect – I hear service got a bit chaotic on the opening weekend – and it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is a true original and it is a delight to have it here.

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One Response to “Peter Pizza”

  1. […] around 25 restaurants in the scheme, including Maiyango (from their daytime menu), Crafty Burger, Peter Pizzeria, Carluccio’s, Kuru Kuru Sushi, Cedars Lebanese, The Smokehouse, Yesim, Queen of Bradgate and […]

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