Cal’s Own, Jesmond
The capo di tutti capi. The drive with which Calvin and Kerry Kitchin (nominative determinism ahoy) have interrogated what a pizza ought to be and to do is frankly frightening – Calvin, in particular, is a font of knowledge about the broader stream of pizza history. Cal’s Own’s pizzas are all about absolute faithfulness to the High Church of pizza, and they abide by the catechisms of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. The move to their Jesmond pad last year was at least partially in aid of their pursuit of a Michelin Bib Gourmand too, and you’d be a fool to bet against them bagging one sooner rather than later. That’s not to say that they’re irritatingly pious though – it’s a buzzing little joint. Simply put, they’ve the best pizzas in the north, bar none.
Scream For Pizza
Two of the most affable people on the North East’s street food scene turn out some of the most brilliant pizzas too. They’ve poured as much effort into nailing the basics as Cal’s Own, but rather than sticking to a starkly classicist ethos, they’ve gone wild. Cured meats and chilli honey come together on the Brooklyn Bee, for instance, then there’s the Mimosa with cream sauce, roast ham, sweetcorn and parmesan or the Why Aye Sweetie Pie with blue cheese, cranberries, parma ham and honey, alongside the occasional parma ham and vodka dip. There are classics in there too, but it’s the joyous experimentation which sets Scream apart.
Happily this has nothing to do with Hitler’s ill-fated campaign on the Eastern Front between 1941 and 1943, and everything to do with pizzas. They did the thing properly, hiring 68-year-old pro pizzaiolo Elia Tavernese to head things up and train their dough-wranglers and wanging £15,000 on a proper oven. The beer selection here’s very solid indeed too, with a keen sense for the new and the zeitgeisty.
Northern Wilds, Tarset
Alongside your margheritas and what-have-you, the wood-fired oven out here in the sticks turns out pizzas with foraged wild ingredients and appropriately off-piste stuff like rabbit or chilli-peppered smoked salmon, and their solar-and-wood-powered kitchen is available for events too.
A newbie on the scene but it’s made a very solid start. It’s all wood-fired fanciness here too, though arguably as impressive as the pizzas is the New York-industrial interior, with slabs of concrete, huge windows and copper piping all over the place making it as appealing a place to chill out with a cocktail (and there are a fair few to choose from) as there is in Newcastle. We’d mention the very good salads too, but as this is a strictly National Pizza Day enterprise sadly we’ll have to just completely ignore them.
Craft & Dough, Sheffield
There’s no such thing as a bog standard topping here. First Catch Your Pig comes with smoked bacon, black pudding, homemade sausage and crispy pig’s ear – not one for the fainthearted. If that sounds too much, try Piggy Smalls topped with pulled pork, streaky bacon and frazzles on top. If you, too, have a porcine vendetta then there are few places more keen to find new and inventive ways to turn pigs into pizza.
Nether Edge Pizza
There’s a reason these guys were one of the Eat Sheffield Street Food finalists last year. They offer fast food, but not as you know it: fired at 550 degrees, your pizza cooks in 90 seconds. Stick to classic margherita or go wild with some line caught crab and artichokes, or the pulled Peking duck with spring onions on a hoisin base.
Broomhill’s not what you’d call a hotbed of culinary invention, but this outpost blends Neapolitan propriety with a verve for veg-based spins on classics: the verdure, with courgette ribbons, roasted peppers, red onion and olives, is the standout. They’ve started doing pop-ups around the region of late too.
Dough Boys, Leeds
The Belgrave is pretty much the epicentre of most worthwhile things in the city: good music, good beers, and a concentration of some of Leeds’ best food from burger-fiddlers Patty Smiths and Dough Boys. The latter’s New York-style slices are absolutely banging, with their ace card being their willingness to experiment – we still recall the Beetlejuice-inspired veggie special, with roasted butternut squash, dolcelatte, pumpkin seeds, beetroot sauce and fried sage, with misty eyes.
Elder and Wolf, Whitley Bay
There are eight varieties of Instagram-friendly pizzas on offer here, and although 50 percent are suitable for veggies, you can’t beat the Geordie steak bake: charred rump steak with caramelised onions, manchego and wood roasted rosemary.
The Wood Oven, Wylam
What makes The Wood Oven special is the dough: slow rising double fermentation. Don’t worry if that all sounds a bit Poindexter-ish – just worry about how it tastes. Past specials have included fish pie and skinny sourdough rye finished with crispy kale and smoky sprouts (for pizza lovers who want to shift the pounds) – there’s no sign of the ordinary on this ever-changing menu.