Let’s be honest: we’ve all been waiting for a proper, actually decent pizza place slap bang in the centre of Birmingham. There are ok places and a few very nice places. There’s also some absolute turds. But there’s something really exciting happening on Bennetts Hill right now I want to shout about.
<Rudy’s Pizza enters stage left>
I’m not going to bang on about the modest interior that looks intentionally half renovated or the central station where you can grab a stool and watch the team prep your pizza – the place is cool and they know it. I also won’t waffle on about the insanely polite, knowledgeable floor staff (many of which have been poached from lesser restaurants across the city) and how they all look genuinely happy to be working there – they’re utterly delightful.
What I am going to harp on about is the pizza, because it’s knockout. Specifically the crust. The reason for this largely seems down to the use of advanced maths in order to perfect the dough. I’m not joking – I’ve actually seen the equations. It’s not a sexy read on paper, that, but the result is quite brilliant to shove in your mouth.
A thin flame-licked crust at the base awaits, with dough that puffs up around the sides and provides an airy, soft crust. It’s a little sour – as I would be had I been double fermented, I’m sure – and plyable, making it ideal for mopping up the available olive oil I (absolutely intentionally) manage to douse any empty space of the plate below with. The blushing sauce base is light and fresh, relying on nothing but tomatoes and salt, and cheese comes one of two ways: fior di latte or buffalo mozzarella. I like cheese all ways, so I’m happy. Well played, Rudy’s Pizza.
My Calabrase takes the delicate tomato base and gives it some pep via spicy n’duja. The soft Calabrian sausage melts into the pizza, in parts becoming at one with the base. I added artichokes because I know how to adult like a legend, and it’s all collectively bloody delicious. Ian’s pizza, the Salame, is topped with strips of peppery Napoli salami and extra mushrooms. We take a piece of each to try. Ian says his is better, I say mine is. This goes on for a while and no one concedes – welcome to marriage. Either way, they’re both far superior to anything within walking distance and we continue to hammer the chilli olive oil they probably now regret giving away for free.
Right, now all that (justified) fawning is out of the way, let’s get one thing clear. You don’t get a pizza cutter and it doesn’t come sliced for you. Yes yes, it would be easier blah blah blah. But that’s not authentic to Naples and they wouldn’t cut your food up for you like you’re a toddler there, so put your big pants on and use the cutlery provided rather than moaning. I’m led to believe if you can’t function without a wheel knife you may get one by begging, but that’s just sad and no one around you will support your life choices. You can either attack it with a knife and fork or do it properly – cut a slice, fold it and pop it in your gob. Don’t ask for dips – there aren’t any and you don’t need them. If you’re someone who can’t eat dough without dunking it in blue cheese goo you may be better off across the road at Franco Manca. There’s the aforementioned chilli oil on the tables to soak your crusts in, and if you ask nicely they may let you have a bit of the (insanely pungent) garlic olive oil too.
As well as pizzas you’ll find a small selection of sides and salads, including the Campana sharing platter offering olive oil drizzled buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto crudo, salame napoli and wild boar salame amongst a rocket and sun dried tomato salad with chunks of warm house bread. Good value and quality – I’d eat this happily myself for lunch. Special shout out, finally, to the Tiramisu that might be one of the nicest uses of lady fingers and mascarpone I’ve personally found in this city and costs just 4 quid. I managed to get some of this on my nose because I was inhaling it so fast, so take that as my compliments to the chef.
So – is this the pizza place we’ve all been waiting for in central Brum? For me, damn right it is. The soupy/sloppy centre won’t suit everyone’s tastes, but Jesus Christ – try something new and live a little. If you want a cardboard base and tomato puree sauce do everyone a favour and pop down the road to the dreary ‘Italian’ waiting for you on the corner.
There isn’t a pizza on this menu that costs more than £8.90 and if you can’t see and taste the value in that you probably don’t deserve Rudy’s Pizza anyway. Be aware you can’t book a table and it’s first come first served. There’s a small but well priced cocktail menu and a specials board for both food and drinks.
Welcome to Birmingham, bab. I have a feeling you’re going to be very popular.
Rudy’s Pizza, 9-10 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, B2 5RS
Disclosure: I dined during the soft launch week after signing up for the 3,000 free pizzas promotion – this was open to absolutely anyone. All words, opinions and photos of Rudy’s Pizza are mine.