Restuarant review: The Arc Pizza Kitchen and Bar, N1

Tom Marshall tries his hand at pizza-making

The last time I went to The Arc was to witness Arsenal’s demolition at the feet of Lionel Messi, the Barcelona superman netting four to boot us out of the Champions League without seeming to break a sweat.

I hoped to bury those painful memories as I returned to find out if it has scored a winner of its own with its exotic new pizza menu.

Not content with serving up circles of baked dough with the tried and trusted toppings found in every Italian eaterie, the chefs have conjured up a selection that is almost as dazzling as the Argentinian maestro’s footwork.

Out go classics like the funghi and in come the likes of the Indian banquet, sprinkled with tandoori king prawns and onion bhajis, the Thai sweet chilli, covered in spring onions and sweet chilli, and the Moroccan spiced chicken, with chickpeas and raisins.

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Before I found out, I was invited behind the scenes - with two of my Gazette colleagues - for a pizza-making masterclass. We were shown the ropes by chef Samir, a fountain of pizza knowledge, who taught us the perfect cooking temperature is 280C, that a 12-incher requires 230 grams of dough, and demonstrated how to roll the perfect base. We had a crack and most of our efforts were not too bad, although mine was a bit like Arsenal’s defence against Barcelona that fateful day last April - their was a gaping hole in the middle.

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I have to admit I was a little doubtful about some of the more outlandish options and in the end we went rogue with our recipes and chose our own toppings. Mine was a vegetarian feast, with hot chillies, peppers, mushrooms and red onion - and it quickly became clear all Samir’s expertise and the care that goes into these pizzas is paying off. It was thin, crisp and wolfed down in record time.

One colleague branded his chorizo concoction, with hot peppers, mushrooms, and sweetcorn, a triumph, its base cooked to perfection, while the other was just as pleased with her tandoori chicken choice. We enjoyed liberally dousing them in garlic oil, The Arc again offering something a little different to the usual option, chilli oil.

A bruschetta starter was so generous it could have been a meal in itself, while my news editor marvelled that the double chocolate fudge cake was every bit as tasty as the one served at a certain well-known Italian pizza chain - which is apparently high praise indeed.

The place was pretty lively with after-work drinkers, no doubt pulled in by its mix of a relaxed vibe, all leather booths and sofa seating to sprawl over, and quality, reasonably-priced grub.

The Arc is not trying to be a gastropub, it doesn’t claim to be serving Michelin quality food, but its a good bar that does a lot of things well. For those not so crazy about Italy’s tastiest export, there are wraps, burgers, salads and more, and everything we sampled was top-notch.

It was almost enough to stifle any flashbacks of Messi running rings around Arsenal. Almost enough.

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