REVIEW: Purezza Pizzeria, Brighton
What’s good about pizza? Ooozing creamy buffalo mozzarella, affettati like salami, prosciutto and everyone’s favourite sausage du jour n’duja…but Purezza offer none of that, being a 100% plant-based pizzeria, the first in the UK none the less.
For all the many, many pizzas I’ve eaten in my time, the menu here is unlike any other pizzeria I’ve been to. They even make their own cheese alternatives, headlined by the all important mozzarella. Their version is made, somehow, with Italian brown rice. I tried to read up about it, something to do with rice sprouts to make rice milk..micronutrients..animoacids…blah, blah, blah. But does it taste good? It actually takes ok. I wouldn’t want to eat a block of it but melted on the pizza it was just fine and I bet most people wouldn’t even notice the difference.
The bases, it has to be said, are phenomenal. Although you can go for a Sussex-grown hemp flour base (could this be any more Brighton) or gluten free, I stayed safe with the traditional wholegrain sourdough. Beautifully crafted, super light, fluffy and pillowy, the base really was one of the best I’ve had. The cornicione was enormous but fully cooked and airy, you would easily eat the lot and not feel over-full.
Topping choices have been well considered, the Margherita and Marinara the only instantly recognisable ones amid some really interesting ideas. A good mix of both white and red sauce bases are on offer and only half have alternative meats on them although they can be added as an option.
The Green Supreme that I finally chose is just a reinvention of a classic friarielli (broccoli/spinach hybrid) and spicy sausage pizza I know and love. This being vegan the sausage was some sort of alternative meat and truthfully, I did miss the texture and taste of the real deal a little, but the combination with the mozzarella and bagfuls of spice from the chillis it was a great eat.
The slice from the other side of the table, a Season 4 Pizza 1 with mozzarella, artichokes, kalamata olives, beautiful trumpet wild mushrooms and a smoked beetroot carpaccio was also delicious. Sweet, piquant and well balanced and actually, a picturesque pizza if I ever saw one.
Not all the toppings work, on a separate visit I tried the Telling Porkies with marinated pulled BBQ pieces which I found dessert-like sweet, and truffle head I am, had great expectations of the Here Comes Truffle. This was fine, if slightly too earthy and muddy, and the generous wild mushrooms on top actually made it a tad sloppy.
For all the grown up Dominos weirdos out there that like dips for their crust, there are plenty to choose from including some interesting options like banana ketchup. This was so bizarre I had to try it, definitely a Marmite-love-or-hate thing, it wasn’t for me with the sweetness, but my dining pal happily polished off the lot.
Again sides are not something I order with pizza but looking round the restaurant I know I’m outnumbered on this too with diners supplementing their carbs with carbs (I always empathise with the chef in the film Big Night on this) with pots of mac’n’cheese, dough balls or getting their greens in with a salad or courgetti dish.
The restaurant itself is now beautiful and on-brand. I remember when it opened with school-caff seating and scratchy plastic tables that didn’t get the ethos of the food across at all. Luckily that was skipped in favour of natural wood, warm lighting with a little industrial edge and the pizza oven in pride of place.
Worth noting is that kids eat free with each paying adult and I’ll definitely return with my pizza mad mini crew in tow.
I dined with my die-hard Vegan friend who raves about this restaurant and the fact that it is packed to the rafters on most days, lunch and dinner, is a clear sign they are doing it right. Whatever your diet, and this is a particularly good choice for those that are meat, dairy or gluten-free, there’s plenty to love about Purezza.
12 St James’s Street