Pizza the Napoli way makes the journey out of Manchester city centre worthwhile
Six months after the restaurant first opened, you might already be aware of Proove, the Neapolitan pizza restaurant in West Didsbury that’s making a name for itself in top quality stone-baked pizzas across the north.
I’d certainly heard about its opening teething problems – that the waitress so was overwhelmed by its popularity and lack of booking system – that she *might* have turned away a celebrity, much to the frustration of her colleagues.
Now with a fully functioning online booking system, we – me and my boyfriend Niall, a local to this affluent but hip part of Manchester – found that we couldn’t get a reservation after 7pm or before 9pm on a Saturday. We took a 6.45pm slot and hoped we wouldn’t be rushed.
We headed up the windy high street of West Didsbury, passing the many gastro ventures with trendy fascias that the up-and-coming area offers. I haven’t been to any of them, and was thankful it wasn’t me that had to make the choice of where to eat.
As we entered I was surprised that the restaurant was half empty, given we were unable to secure a later booking. A waiter was ready to seat us who took us immediately through to the back of the restaurant, leading us between long wooden benches for groups, finally to smaller tables for a more intimate setting.
The décor was tastefully modern using a palette of copper, black and white. Dark tiles covered the lower half of the walls arranged into trendy chevron shapes, while low hanging retro lightbulbs dimly lit just above the tables, wrapped in copper wire geometric shapes. Our musical accompaniment was less tasteful: house hits from the 90s at a blaring volume.
The menu presented 12 pizza options, along with salads, street food selection and antipasti. Within seconds, another waiter returned to take our drinks order, which whilst attentive, was too quick. The waiter gave us a few more minutes, and when we emerged from behind our menus we noticed that the room had suddenly filled with eager and hungry patrons.
We opted for a Quattro Stagioni (pepperoni, ham, roasted Portobello mushrooms, olives, San Marzano D.O.P. tomatoes and Fior di Latte mozzarella) and Diavola (nduja sausage, fennel salami, chillies, San Marzano tomatoes, and Fior di Latte mozzarella) – to share both – accompanied by a bottle of merlot.
Prove promise the best Italian OO grade Caputo flour (whatever that is), slow proved for a minimum of 20 hours, and then cooked in a wood-fired oven. Naturally, the result was the authentic black-spotted, soft and chewy crust, topped lightly with bright tomato sauce peeping through the toppings. It arrived within what felt like seconds.
My pizza pet-hate is always the cheese. Cheap cheese, too much cheese. Thankfully Prove seemed to understand that less is more, and not just for the cheese, each and every topping could be tasted upon its simple base. For others, the deal breaker can be the base. Pizza the Napoli way is soft and chewy, just as it was served – and definitely required a knife and fork!
Again, the service was sharp, clearing Niall’s empty plate when I was barely half way through, and I felt rushed.
Prove’s prices are very reasonable, starting at £6.50 for Marinara through to £11.50 for more elaborate recipes like the San Daniele that comes with Prosciutto San Daniele, fresh rocket & shavings of parmigiano reggiano.
In a district that saturated with competition from other indie-foodie enterprises, it’s easy to see that Prove’s value for money and product quality has made it a favourite amongst locals. I can only assume their choice of background music is an additional tactic to speed up the turnaround of daily customers.
Proove 160 Burton Road, West Didsbury, Manchester M20 1LH; 0161 669 9061. Open Sunday – Wednesday, 11.30am – 10.30pm; Thursday – Saturday, 11.30am – 11pm. About £15 per head plus drinks and service.