It may be a cliché, but pizza is the way to this girl’s heart, so heading down to Leeds’ newest ‘za restaurant Pizza Punks was a no brainer.
The self-proclaimed anarchic pizza venue first opened its doors in Glasgow back in September 2016, and over the last few years has spread its reach to Belfast, Newcastle and now Leeds. As an independent company, Pizza Punks pride themselves on saying no to the corporate chains and money men, and yes to putting their people and products before profit, and it is this anti-establishment outlook which has earned them a loyal following of punks the country over.
My partner and I visited on Sunday afternoon. On arrival, we were greeted with a warm smile from the host and shown to our table. Pizza Punks Leeds has taken over the former premises of Mod Pizza on Bond Street, and by the looks of things, have taken things up a notch or two. The décor is bright and airy, with black leather seating, marble table tops and black and white subway tiles adorning the walls. Plants hanging from the lighting fixtures add a natural touch which stops the monochrome interior from looking too sterile. The piéce de résistance however, was the giant pizza oven behind the open counter. Guests could watch the kitchen staff preparing their food and cooking pizzas with flair whilst they waited – dinner and a show!
Our host explained the menu to us, and we were offered drinks right away. The drinks menu is extensive and covers all bases – wines, cocktails, craft beers and soft drinks, but we both were drawn to the punk sodas. These are handcrafted sodas created with house made syrups and lemon juice, with flavours including pineapple & chilli, and passionfruit & coconut. My partner and I chose the cherry pop and the strawberry lemonade respectively. Both were beautifully sweet, tart and flavourful, and an exceptional pairing to cut through some of the richness of the pizzas . The cocktail menu looked particularly tempting too, with interesting ingredients such as CBD oil (in the Dazed & Confused), and Buckfast tonic wine (in the By Monks for Punks) – we will definitely be trying these next time!
The menu looks simple – pasta or sourdough pizza, with a range of sides, dips, and desserts – but look a little closer and guests will notice it is anything but. For starters, their sourdough is made using a mature starter culture all the way from San Francisco, with the dough being proofed for 48 hours, giving their pizzas a strong and deliciously distinctive flavour. Alongside regular pizza flavours such as Margarita or salami, come more quirky and unusual combinations – think cheeseburger pizza with burger sauce and American cheese, or the Cubano – mojo sauce, sriracha caramel pork belly and dill balsamic. The small plates and sides menu tempts diners with offerings such as ‘nduja and hot honey burrata, vegan mac n’ cheese, and buffalo chicken wings with ranch sauce. There is also the option to ‘create your own’ pasta (£9) or pizza (£11), with a range of sauces and unlimited toppings, as well as a children’s menu, and options for vegan, gluten-free and halal diners.
We both chose to try a small plate each as a starter. Mine – the gorgonzola, pear and walnut bruschetta – was delightful. The creamy cheese and perfectly ripe pear were the most superb match, and the crunchy walnuts, balsamic dressing and drizzle of basil oil just elevated the dish. My partner’s – the punk mac n’ cheese – I’m told was excellent. (It was inhaled almost before it had reached the table!). The mix of mature Cheddar, parmesan and mascarpone gave it the depth of flavour and silky texture of a much more expensive dish.
For mains, we both chose a pizza. I am a firm believer that you can tell a good pizza restaurant by its Margarita, as there are no fancy ingredients to hide behind, and I am happy to report that Pizza Punks Margarita lived up to my exacting standards! The sourdough base came decorated with beautiful darker charred spots from being cooked in a proper pizza oven, and the tangy, sweet tomato sauce and creamy fior di latte mozzarella were heavenly.
My partner chose the mushroom pizza – a white sauce of crème fraiche and double cream, topped with truffle mushrooms, fior di latte, and garlic and rosemary roast potatoes (yes, really). The truffle flavour really came through, and if you’re unsure about roasties on a pizza, don’t be. This is Yorkshire, after all! We made the decision to skip dessert as neither of us fancied carrying the other one home, and I don’t think Pizza Punks would have allowed us to sleep it off in one of the booths, but when we return, the caramelised pineapple cheesecake, and Biscoff pizza are both mine.
Throughout our meal, we were looked after by the attentive, warm, and friendly Jess and Abi, who were on hand to offer drinks, answer questions, and give recommendations whenever we needed. Pizza Punks is a welcome addition to the Leeds dining scene, and the perfect spot for a quick lunch, a round of mid shopping-spree cocktails, or just a natter with the lovely staff. Both my partner and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit and will now be putting roast potatoes on everything until the end of time.
Thank you, Pizza Punks!
Pizza Punks Leeds, 37 Bond Street, LS1 5BQ, 0113 217 0360, https://pizzapunks.co.uk/pizza-punks-leeds/
Photography by Asli Champion.