Pizza is one of those foods that is sure to stir up some very strong opinions. We all think we know where the best pizza can be found, whether it’s for the base, the sauce, the cheese or the selection of toppings, pizza is a universal food favourite.
Leafing through my foodie bible, the Oxford Companion to Food, it tells us ‘it is safe to assume that since early classical times people in the general region of the Mediterranean were at least sometimes putting a topping on flat breads. The word pizza itself ‘was used as early as the 997 AD at Gaeta, a port between Naples and Rome.’
So pizza has been around in one form or another for a very long time, but look how far it’s come when you consider all those American style ‘fast food’ pizza joints, serving heavy starchy dough, over sweetened processed tomato sauce and greasy cheap cheese. Those pizza impostors should be run down by packs of wild rabid honey badgers! They are an insult to the art and craft of pizza making!
I’m a traditionalist when it comes to my pizza. I like a thin and crispy base, a simple well seasoned tomato sauce and a modest selection of toppings made from the best quality cured meats, cheese and veggies – but that’s not to say I’m not open to new ideas, new interpretations – without new ideas we wouldn’t have had rock ‘n’ roll, the iPhone or ‘sous-vide’ cooked steak.
I’d heard good things of a pizza pop-up hidden down a cobbled Dublin side street, doing things a little differently. Skinflint pizza, part of the same pedigree of Jo’burger and Crackbird, has been cranking out grilled flat bread pizzas for the last few years, operating under the mainstream radar. Tucked away on Crane Lane, you might miss it, but the buzzing neon sign helps to lead the way.
The interior is reclaimed shabby chic, with old dentists doors for tables, exposed light fittings hanging from the ceiling and lots of quirky framed pics, an awesome model ship standing proudly on the bar and giant rolls of paper towels on the tables. Pizzas are served through a small hatch into the tiny kitchen, dished out by laid back ‘uber’ trendy staff to a mixture of punters ranging from be-speckled hipsters to young Dublin luvvies, tattooed mustachioed couriers or young families with kids in tow. Skinflint does not discriminate, it clearly wants to takes it pizza message to all walks of life, to the beat of a disco funk soundtrack.
The stacked wooden crates of San Marzano tomatoes beside the door and the huge bags of Odlums plain flour are promising signs of a pizza joint that takes it sauce and dough seriously – all else should fall into place after that. The menu is all about the pizza, but there’s also a selection of starters, small plates to share and meatballs for those who aren’t in the mood for the main event.
To start we ordered two bottles of Irish Craft beer ‘Howling Gale Ale’ and the selection of dips with a pizza base dressed with nothing more than a drizzle of excellent olive oil, a hum of garlic and a sprinkling of paprika. The dips included hummus, fig and olive tapenade and artichoke. All three were perfectly seasoned and were loaded with garlic. The fig and olive tapenade was a revelation, the sweetness of the figs went so well with the salty olives.
It was hard to say no to the mac n’cheese – pure comfort, creamy, oozy, and what an inspired move serving the cheesey pasta in a cup made from Serrano Ham.
Apparently all the pizzas are named after members of staff, so we went for the Suzie and the Philomena. The Suzie was topped with tomato sauce, in-house Chorizo, Pecorino cheese, Mozarella and pink peppercorns.
The Philomena was stacked high with Porchetta, Rocket, Pecorino cheese and lemon juice.
The base was thin, crispy, dusted with semolina to give an added crunch and the tomato sauce was seasoned perfectly, sweet and savoury, the perfect foundation on which to build the pizza. Toppings were inspired and felt luxurious due to the quality of the ingredients. Pizzas are served on a long wooden board and come sliced into think strips, and my preferred method of demolishing a Skinflint pizza is to drizzle with the in-house Firebee honey, then fold the strip in half.
For €46.20 we had two craft beers, three dips with flat bread, mac n cheese, and two pizzas for €46.20. Not just top-notch eats, but great value too.
Skinflint is the kind of place you’d find in Soho London, the difference being that if it were Soho, you’d probably have to queue round the block for hours. Skinflint has been an excellent addition to Dublin’s cheap eats, good fast food, done well and executed with attitude. Is Skinflint a restaurant, a nightclub, a dive bar, all of the above? Who cares…it’s conducive to fun times, it has tasty pizza, great tunes, beer, wine and cocktails – get in there, let your hair down and enjoy a new take on an age-old culinary tradition.
19 Crane lane
t: 01 670 9719