Pizza Loco at the Meanwood Tavern: I tried the raved-about pizza that has taken over from Well Oiled at Leeds pub
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Whether it’s a band trying to capture the magic of their debut album or a writer working out how to tie things up nicely in the second part of a play, sometimes you can set the bar too high for yourself.
Such must have been the conundrum for the Meanwood Tavern when the residency of Well Oiled in their kitchen came to an end last month. The Detroit-style pizzas had become a tour-de-force during the bar’s first year of opening, with their thick, flavoursome, doughy goodness perfectly complementing a pint at the pristine boozer.
But in Pizza Loco they have a worthy – and dare I say superior – custodian to take over the task of raising the pizza game in Meanwood.
Pizza Loco was established in 2014 by Ollie Reynolds, and has earned a reputation as one of Leeds’ best pizza joints since the opening of its first designated restaurant in Oakwood last year.
And it’s easy to see why – and tempting to add my own name to those claiming that to be the case – after sampling what they have to offer.
After ordering our food at the bar our three side dishes – which came as an offer of three for £15 – arrived within five minutes and were each as sublime as the last.
Pizza Loco prides itself on sourcing ingredients locally but I don’t recall eating Italian food that tasted as delightfully pure and fresh since visiting Sorrento.
The first bite of the artichokes left me stunned. Roasted Roman-style and served with a lemon and basil aioli, their meaty texture and delicate flavour combinations were something to behold.
Also leaving me aghast were the brown anchovies served on the crispy, panuozzo toasts with a whipped lemon ricotta. The sumptuous crunch of the bread made for a great bedrock for the balance of sea salty fish and sultry ricotta.
Lastly were the roasted gnocchi ‘chips’, which were lacking the same gobsmacking oomph as its companions but still with plenty of taste and intrigue.
Sadly Pizza Loco’s hit number the Panuozzi – a range of fully stacked pizza bread sandwich that come highly recommended and look incredible on their Instagram page – were only available for lunch so we settled on a couple of pizzas.
Not that that was a bad thing. We went with two veggie options, the first we tried being the Puttanesca, which for where it was lacking in cheese it more than made up for in flavour. The rich, oily tomato sauce and mixture of capers, olives, garlic and basil made for an assault of flavour while the classic 12” Neapolitan base in both cases was utterly divine.
We also had the Jean Paul Goatier which again adds a twist on the classic recipes by mixing a hint of lemon to the always delightful taste of goat’s cheese, tomatoes and red onion.
Washed down with a couple of drinks from the Meanwood Tavern’s excellent selection (the standout being the Pass Time fruited gose by Left Handed Giant Brewery, which had a marvellous fruity blend to take the edge of the hard hitting acidity) and the £50 bill felt like money well spent.