National Pizza Day: Edinburgh’s own Pizza Geeks on what makes the perfect bake

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Topping preference aside, what is the secret to the perfect pizza?

According to the team at Pizza Geeks, it is pretty simple and a whole lot to do with the cooking.

Gozney 1250 painted by Chris Rutterford

Gozney 1250 painted by Chris Rutterford

The celebrated street food experts now at home on Dalry Road, explain the fiery Gozney oven and how cooking pro pizzas at home is possible in just 90 seconds.

Formerly street food vendors the team set up in Dalry in last year and have harnessed the power of the Gozney oven.

Finlay Clarkson, co-founder of the Dalry restaurant said top dough, good quality tomatoes, balanced topping combinations and the perfect bake all contribute to perfect pizza results.

He said: “We think pizza is pretty simple - the dough is only four ingredients after all. We are a little less traditional in some of our toppings and keep things pretty geeky along the way but we’ve always tried to adhere to the fundamental Neapolitan style as closely as we can when it comes to the base.”

The Pizza Geeks use A Gozney oven, invented by Tom Gozney in 2010 as part of one man’s quest for the perfect home-cooked pizza, which turns the puddle of dough and toppings into the perfect pizza pie in just one minute and 30 seconds.

“Our Classic 1250 Gozney Oven is essentially where the magic happens,” Finlay explained. “Temperature is vital for dough at both ends of the spectrum; cool when proving but also roasting hot when cooking to get that delicious crust.

“We find the internal shape of the Gozeny oven is perfect with multiple hot spots so we can keep up with demand and high turnover.

“Our Classic 1250 is completely unique having been painted by Scottish muralist, Chris Rutterford, as the flaming fires of Mount Doom!”

Tom Gozney designed the ovens, firstly for home-cooks keen to flip traditional pizzas, before adding a professional range of wood and gas fired versions.

They have since been installed in high-end restaurants including the Pig Hotel, in the New Forest, the River Cottage Canteen in Bristol and the Novelli Academy in Luton as well as Foundry 39 in Edinburgh’s west end and Benugo Cafe at Edinburgh Castle.

Five billion pizzas are consumed every year, and the popular meal, celebrated today on World Pizza Day, is the most popular food purchased in restaurants, second most popular item bought in supermarkets and the fourth most popular dinner item purchased in fast food outlets.

But what is it about pizza that makes it so enticing?

“Ah...it’s the timeless combination of a thin, digestible centre and a light, chewy - almost pillowy - crust,” Finlay said. “A Pizza Geeks pizza should leave you wanting more not in some grease-induced comatose state. Less is more, and giving the dough and the tomato space then come to the fore is what we like.

“The Mario – our take on a classic margherita – is a great benchmark pizza and one you can always come back to if you have been eating pizza almost daily for the last three years like we have. For me, though, it would have to be The Braveheart: tomato base, fresh mozzarella, salami milano, Stornoway black pudding and haggis. It sounds heavy but the salami is wafer thin and we crumble the “scary” toppings so every mouthful is rich and pretty epic.”

Finlay met fellow Pizza Geek Patrick Ward at a party in early 2016 and decided take a gamble and start a pizza business the very next day - before they had ever made a single pizza.

“We racked up well into double figures worth of YouTube videos watching people make dough and pizza from all over the world and then just tweaked things here and there to suit our street food set up. To be in a restaurant less than three years later is quite surreal and it’s been an incredible, hobbit-esque journey so far and we can’t wait to see what’s next.”

The Dalry pizza joint takes its position in the community seriously. Every month the team pick a and for each one of those sold, they donate one to Edinburgh’s homeless and vulnerable community.

Distribution is either in person in conjunction with food charity Soul Food or through a redeemable voucher for the shop at 19 Dalry Road.

These vouchers are also distributed by Soul Food and around 100 were put in to circulation as part of a Christmas present pack which included highly durable, antibacterial socks.

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