The simple foods are the most demanding of a chef. It’s a simple thing to make a pizza, but it’s the most difficult thing to make a truly great pizza. Great pizza demands not just the transformation of simple ingredients – dough, tomato, cheese – it virtually demands the transubstantiation of those ingredients: somehow, the chef has to make them come alive.
Making simple things come alive is what Richard Whitty does in Crust. He can do it because he has served his time studying the ways in which you make the magic – Mr Whitty is a graduate of both the Ballymaloe Cookery School and the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, in Naples, and he ran a pop up pizza stall on Rosslare Strand for two summers, before he ever got the doors open in Crust. The graft has paid off: Crust pizzas are the real deal, the real Neapolitan deal, and they deliver the magic.
Mr Whitty stays true to the tradition for the most part, so you can get a solid hit of the classics in Crust: the margherita, the Nduja, the Quattro formaggi. But it’s his own riffs using Irish ingredients that show the chef stepping out of the tradition and doing his own thing: that quattro formaggi uses 4 Irish artisan cheeses including extra-mature Coolea; he transforms aubergine parmigiana into a pizza topping, whilst the Butcher’s Block is a truly original commingling of Richie Doyle’s sausage meat with smoked chicken.
The wines are choice – not usually something you can depend on in a pizza restaurant – and the vibe is relaxed and welcoming, the Gozney oven is fired up, the magic awaits.