4 The Quay, Exeter, EX2 4AP – 01392 670424 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Regular readers might have guessed that I like to whitter on about the history of the buildings sometimes. Pizza Stein is no different as I have many memories of this building when it was The Hot House, back in the late nineties, a sticky floor club with Volts on the bottom level. In more recent times it was called The Revelry, a hip live music venue that did drinks, a smattering of food and lots of music.
And now it is Pizza Stein; home of Napolese style Pizza and a selection of delectable European beers served by friendly staff in a welcoming atmosphere.
Three separate people have said how lovely the pizza’s are here, and that not only is the atmosphere friendly as I mentioned, but they are definitely kid-friendly. I don’t have kids myself, but many of my friends are now at the age where finding a place to eat can be tricky with their sproglets. Many restaurants are kid tolerant, but having a place that is properly kid friendly is a definitive bonus for mums & dads.
Kids can watch their pizza being made, or even have a go themselves at The Pizza Table next door to the chefs themselves. We met Ella who was assisting Stu on the ovens who normally helps the kids out and shows them how things work; definitely a USP to be proud of. Pizza & Stein is at the top of my list for ‘places to take kids over the Easter holidays’ so after reading this review, I really hope you do.
So what is Pizza Stein all about? Myself, Tori, our niece Beth and our good friend Lewis from OMG Comics in Fore St. decided to try it out.
Like football, there are many variations on a theme of Pizza. True, you can go to any place in the UK and find either a Dominoes or a Pizza Hut producing overpriced en-masse pizzas that are often under done, using ingredients that come from a packet. And many of the Zizzi’s and ASKs of this world hand-toss the pizzas, but with inferior ingredients and with no real heritage. Pizza Stein use the Napoli rules and they adhere to these rules strictly; using authentic ingredients, the correct type of oven at the correct temperature, and with the finest Italian flour available.
We had the luck of being able to sit at the Pizza Table which gives you a great view of the chefs at work. Our chef this evening was Stu, who thoroughly educated me in the way of The Napoli rules pizza, and showed us every step of the process.
To the layman, there doesn’t seem to be much to the pizzas; tomato and fresh basil, smoked garlic, buffalo mozzarella, fresh sourdough bases and then whacked in the oven for a short period of time. But the small details give it that extra edge. The tomato used is genuine San Marzano, which grow on the south plains of Mount Vesuvius; the base is sourdough (they employ a chap who comes in at 5am to create the base for service each day); and the oven has to be a genuine wood-fired Italian pizza oven, which has been imported especially. Those are not a full list of the rules by any stretch, but handily they list them on their website.
On Stuart’s recommendation we went for the Charcuterie Board (£20 for four, but comes in smaller sizes too) along with the pizza’s. Instead of having them as a starter, we plumped for it altogether. I devised a fantastic technique for further loading the pizza with items from the board too, as the dough is soft enough to roll up, I was very happy.
So along with my pint of Pilsner £4.25 (which itself was an impressive glass even though it wasn’t a genuine Stein that holds up to two pints), I went for the Parma Ham pizza (£8). The Marghirita (£6) and Marinara (£5) is much simpler, but no less delicious.
From taking the dough from the crates, rolling them out and topping them, the cooking process is under five minutes, a very quick process given each pizza spends less than two minutes in the oven.
The pizza itself was soft and with the deep tastes that came from the ham and the tomato, it worked wonderfully.
One of my long-running bugbears with restaurants has to be apathetic desserts. Packet based things that require minimal effort and taste like they’ve actually just come out of a packet; Pizza Stein has to be one of the only casual dining restaurants in Exeter that has their very own Michelin Starred pastry chef (Stuart was part of the team at The Castle Hotel in Taunton who attained their star a few years ago), who does all of the desserts as well as manning the pizza oven. I was too full for a dessert but Tori and Beth shared a Chocolate Pot (£5) which came in a sealed ramekin.
This was an intense blast of chocolate, a very rich and perfectly formed mousse that was more creamy than mousse in taste, but firm enough to sit on the end of a spoon without losing its shape. A very impressive dessert, and two very happy campers in our party.
Pizza Stein is an incredibly positive addition to the Quayside dining scene. Exeter is fast becoming a hub of different styles and tastes when it comes to eating out, and I am really chuffed there is a place in Exeter where you can go back to basics, the simple beauty that the pizza is without the irrelevant garnishes and palette noise that it has gathered through its evolution to the thing we know today.
There is a simple menu, the staff are friendly and throughout the establishment there is a sense of welcoming that seems lacking in many restaurants generally. Take your kids, take your wife, take your grandma, and make sure you book in advance, this is one restaurant that needs showing off.