91-95 Clerkenwell Road, London, EC1R 5BX www.wedgeissuepizza.com
Nick likes the intentions of this relatively new pizzeria but is unsure about the practice.
Wedge Issue is on the unlovely and largely unloved part of the Clerkenwell Road that’s not quite Farringdon and not quite anywhere else really. They have taken over an Italian restaurant, painted it a neutral greenish grey and installed electric pizza ovens.
Yes, electric ovens, my heart sank a bit when I saw them. I don’t expect every pizzeria to have wood-fired ovens, like the excellent Bravi Ragazzi and Addomme that grace my hood, but if not then gas is second best. You simply don’t get enough of that important black blistering on the edge of the pizza if you don’t use a flame of some kind in my view.
What Wedge does have though is a trendy beer list, very important these days. Craft beer from small London breweries – Anspach & Hobday (south), Weird Beard (west), plus East London and Pressure Drop (east). Probably all a bit over-hoppy I expect because hipsters love hops.
And I don’t mind either, when it’s done well and with some subtlety. I had draught Curious Brewing IPA‘A blend of English Golding; Bramling Cross; and Chinook; the punchy, spicy yet aromatic hop’, the menu said. Well any hop named after the iconic’Nam’copter is fine by me and it was a very decent pint.
Like any pizzeria of quality, Wedge take great care over the dough which is slow proofed over three days to develop flavour and let the yeast finish its work. Cheap pizzerias prove the dough very quickly so there is no flavour and worse the yeast is often still fermenting after you’ve eaten it, hence the bloated feeling.
Pizzas are locally named, N has a Smithfield which is made with Italian sausage, n’duja, chorizo, ham, mozzarella on a San Marzano tomato sauce base, I have The Billingsgate – anchovy, capers, olives, mozzarella, rosemary and the same base. You can also in the evening design your own.
I’m not all that happy to see on mine what looks suspiciously like those black olives that come in tins of brine, I’d have preferred proper olives. Yes they need de-stoning by the kitchen, but the stones pop out easily enough and they have so much more flavour. Otherwise it’s a pretty decent pizza, if a bit light on the anchovies. The base, which is as important as the topping, I admit is far better than I expected out of an electric oven. Thin, slightly chewy, good sourdough flavours and nicely crisp at the edges.
N’s Smithfield looks a bit light on meat to my eyes and he reports the n’duja is perhaps too subtle for his taste. Again though overall it’s good and no real complaints.
The one thing I don’t like, apart from those cheapo olives, is the way the mozzarella is working. I can see why; the man is sprinkling grated mozzarella onto each pizza base. This is wrong, the mozzarella should be torn from a ball and scattered unevenly. This creates random pools of mozzarella, some thick and chewy, some liquid.
There is also the issue of whether this could be catering mozzarella, which comes pre-grated and is not much good. It would be odd if they scrimped on this point, having taken pains on the dough and sauce, but you never know. Buffalo mozzarella is actually an optional extra at £3 more, but I’d make it standard if they want to win prizes for pizzas.
So verdict? Good pizza bases, good intentions, but from admittedly only tasting two of the choices, the toppings need work on the cheese and olive front and maybe the generosity of ingredients too.