Battle of the Bulge
In the late 80s there were two kinds of people in Birmingham: Pizza Land people and Pizza Hut people. And like the Jets and the Sharks, the two gangs fought running battles up and down New Street over who was the creator of the least shit pizza. In the last five years we've had a glut of indy pizzerias finally bringing exceptional cheese-laden discs of joy to our tums. And with four major new openers in as many months, we thought we'd try and whittle down the best, to the best of the best...
Best for: toppings
We should immediately disclose a geography bias that could have gone either way for this spot — it's the closest pizza place to all our team and Alicia's features in our lives on the regs. Having, therefore, tried almost every iteration of the entire menu, you need to try the Capricciosa (£12.50) with black forest speck. The team goes big on toppings, which is great because they taste so good, but does make their super-charred sourdough base a firm knife and fork job.
Score: 🍕 🍕 🍕 🍕
BAKED IN BRICK, Digbeth
Best for: *that* Calzone
Aubrey Allen beef shin ragyu and wild mushroom in a parcel of wood-fired doughy goodness — the Calzone (£12) that bagged Baked In Brick the best street food dish at the British and European street food awards is rich, Brummie, bucket list stuff. The Custard Factory team also does pizza by the slice at its permanent digs for lunchy pickings and added happiness.
Score: 🍕 🍕 🍕🍕
POLI, Kings Heath
Best for: sides
Expectations can be a bastard, and it's difficult to remember a time when ours were higher. On our single visit to Poli, our go-to N'duja (£12) didn't land on flavour. The team's tomato-less black pepper cream creation (£9.50) was a worthy sub, as was the lovely atmosphere, but Poli didn't make us freaky deaky like we thought it would. We'll be back for a second date, only too happy to eat our words.
Score: 🍕 🍕 🍕
Best for: dining solo
The Woodbridge Road new kid is a veggie-only entrant and deals exclusively in pizza by the slice. Benefits include speed, snack-potential and low-risk new tries — we hit up the blue cheese-laden "Tangy" (£3.50) on the owner's tip, and it was a hit. Here's the problem, the pizza is part-cooked when you order and the compromise is topping freshness. They know that, we know that, but it's still a fab Moseley addition. And Tiny Rebel beer is ace.
Score: 🍕 🍕
FRANCO MANCA, Town
Best for: price
After a right nice press night and great history with London Franco Mancas we were seriously taken with this VC-powered newbie. But two visits later, we had gripes — measly amounts of mediocre anchovies and a soggy middle on the team's no 5, and an acrid aubergine dish. We would say we'll be back to give the spot another whirl but Rudy's is on the same street (on which, more below).
Score: 🍕 🍕
LAGHI'S, Five Ways
Best for: table pizza
Our office is locked in bitter dispute over this entry. Half our team would be giving Laghi's all of the pizza plaudits, while the other half has never been sold on its dough. Either way, we invented the table pizza here, the shareable side dish you order in addition to your pasta mains, and that's a very very good thing. Go for the classic buffalo mozzarella (£9.95) and settle this battle.
Score: 🍕 🍕 🍕
Best for: value for money
Location, value for money, easy service — and the crucial bit — ace pizza. The only thing we could take or leave was the sharing platter at Rudy's, the newest of the new openers, where those happy, humungous 360 degrees of delight start at £4.90, rising to £8.90. Based on one visit, Rudy's was a top spot contender but years of stone-baked goodness means that crown has to be ceded to a certain spot you might just have heard of...
Score: 🍕 🍕 🍕 🍕
OTTO, Jewellery Quarter
Best for: being the best at pizza
After hearing reports of a possible dip at this JQ stalwart, we dragged four pals to put Otto to the ultimate test: Saturday night, 8pm. More rammed than we've ever seen it, service was impacted in understandable ways, but affected the glorious, giving pizzas nought. Such is the quality of the toppings and consistency found from the huge wood-fired oven, every pizza (N'duja, Capricciosa and Mushroom Bianca) was better than any pizza at any other restaurant. Romeo done.
Score: 🍕 🍕 🍕 🍕🍕
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