REVIEW: Wild Flour pizzeria, Ovingdean, Brighton

by - October 21, 2020

Totally off the radar is a pizzeria tucked away in Ovingdean. A place I've walked and run past many times, the only nod to it a small wooden hanging sign. I'd assumed this was just another food truck in someone's garden or a pop up of sorts. But no, turn the corner and you'll find a beautiful little restaurant, which actually sits in the location of the former Old Vienna Cafe. It's surrounded by dahlias, fairy lights and trees and beyond adorable. 

Whilst the restaurant itself is closed during Covid restrictions, delivery and pick up is available and remains immensely popular, turning out an average of 150 pizzas a night in high season. I live for these quirky back street discoveries, totally unexpected and exceeding expectation.

First things first, the 36 hr prove dough is unique. Neapolitan at heart, yet crisp with a French influence. Owner and former chef Chris Phillips describes the core of the cornicione almost croissant-like and I see what he means. Those that find Neapolitan too soft and prefer a crisper base this is the one, but the all important chew is still there too - I've not had a pizza quite like it. It's specifically been crafted to travel better for delivery (makes sense as that's their core business) and the oven is spectacular too - a proper, roaring wood fired beast. 

Also noteworthy is the stealth provenance at play. There's almost an insane attention to detail here which pizza thrives on. Being a simple product it leaves no margin for error or corner cutting - skill, process and your ingredient quality are for the World to see which is why I love it so much. Easy to do, difficult to master.

As always I try a simple topping to gauge a pizza - a Napoletana or a Margherita. The menu is unusual in places so The Ocean One was closest with a tomato base, fior di latte cheese, anchovies, capers and roasted chilli flakes. That base is the absolute one; light, airy, chewy, tasty...everything it should be but even better. A good measure of a good pizza is that you should be easy able to eat the whole thing and not feel like you're going to keel over, and I was able to wolf this down with ease. 

On The Pepperoni One a Hungarian pepperoni is used over an Italian one because of the intense smoke and nothing like the greased slick sausage you'd typically find. 

Looking at the menu, there's a touch to every ingredient and the first time I've felt the need to try the more creative options. Although my first visit was an invite, I knew I had to return pronto.

Despite my very, very strong opinions on Hawaiian pizza this was the first time in my life I was convinced to try one, and no I wasn't drunk or being at held at gunpoint. My first visit I'd point blank refused but Chris came out with the maple glazed pineapple that is pre roasted in the wood oven. I knew then that this was not your average pizzeria.

Cue the Marks and Spencer's sexy music... "This isn't pineapple pizza, this is Wild Flour pineapple pizza...".  They cook the ham as a joint and by roasting the pineapple it means you're not chugging down on chunks from Del Monte. Pre roasting removes the juice and whilst it remains sweet, it's subtle, stickier, slightly candied and with the quality ham is really quite a delicious thing.

Hell we may as well break down all my barriers now. Garlic bread - another insane thing commonly found on menus that weirdos order as starters to a pizza along with the likes of dough balls and chips. But here, the butter is sous vide and garlic infused before it hits the dough, altering the burning point and avoiding that acrid taste. Truly a surprising highlight on the menu and a must order.

And on and on; mushrooms are baked in the oven with balsamic reminding me of my Italian aunt's preserved ones, chilli flakes are roasted...the halloumi salad I had, the cheese had been marinated in paprika, honey and black pepper before a stint in the wood oven, imparting a glorious sweet, sticky chew. 

My limit was reached with the special, where they go REALLY out, this time The Chilli Dog One with gourmet hot dog sausage, ground chilli, lightly pickled onions, American mustard, bacon crumb. I have no doubt that the gourmet junk food brigade would be all over this one and the chilli alone was delicious as I scooped it up - give me a bowl of this any time. On a pizza? Too far for me. They've also had an Indian pizza in the past that proved popular, inspired by the Goan dish Dal Makahni and was 6 months in development. You know what? I'd probably order it.

Dessert pizza - ha she'll hate this right! I despise those awful, sickly Nutella pizzas to end flabby garlic bread and pizza doughball dinners which you'll finish digesting sometime in 2022. Yet here, the dough is shaped into a fluffy doughnut shape, yes with Nutella, but with homemade candied orange, roasted pistachios to give a saline edge and a side of marscapone. This had a huge Sicilian vibe, think cannoli filling, which I was all over. Ridiculously good, grown up and totally different.  

Starting 3 years ago in a back garden further up the road, and now at home here for a year with a full scale wood fired pizza and permanent premises, the dough has been a labour of love. As much as this would make any Italian grimace, Wild Flour are not tied to tradition, they do what feels right which is often misguided approach in the wrong hands. But here the intention is right and they have the craft and vision to turn pizza on its head. 

I knew on my first visit but returned to make sure and can safely say this really is the best pizza in the Brighton area. People of Ovingdean I apologise - your secret is out. 

Address: Greenways, Ovingdean Brighton BN2 7BA

I was invited on the first occasion but returned as a paying customer. Words and thoughts, as always, my own. 

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