“Unless you are a pizza,
The answer is yes,
I can live without you.”
The last 12 or so years have been a dramatic time for the restaurants of Jersey. In 2007 when The Atlantic Hotel’s Ocean restaurant as well as Bohemia won Michelin stars it would seem that the Island we knew and loved was transforming from a fish and chip seaside town to an epicurean wonderland.
When Tassili and Ormer both added stars Jersey became one of the most Michelin starred destinations in the UK. This gastronomic progress inevitably led to change, as it so often does. The introduction of exciting new restaurants was quickly pounced upon by locals and due to this, Jersey is a vastly different place, gastronomically, from what it once was.
Now, I’m all for progress and innovation, but when I found out that my beloved market tearoom was being stripped from under me like a carpet made of cartoon banana skins, I gave up this appreciation of change and pined for the good old days. Days where you could get a solid full English breakfast and a can of Irn-bru (or coke if you are that way inclined) and still receive change from £5. Alas, the good times were seemingly over and for weeks we were faced with empty premises and little hope that what would follow could even compare.
It should be stated at this point that it is entirely possible that Rosie, of Rosie’s Tearoom (an adjacent, competing tearoom) called upon her Scottish Mafia contacts to have the Market Tearoom ‘taken care of’, but these claims remain unsubstantiated.
Either way, I was sad to see my favourite greasy-spoon go and due to this I wasn’t particularly excited to see its replacement. After a few weeks passed, it was obvious to see that there was something in the works. Internal renovation of the premises began and only at this point did a spark of excitement begin to fester within me.
What was born was Pizza Projekt, a retro/modern industrial/Brooklynesque pizza joint with a pac-man logo and two pizza ovens outside the front door. Run by two friends who honed their skills in Italy, this tiny pizzeria is modest in size but big on personality. When walking in past the two ovens you are faced with a giant blackboard, intricately detailing menu items with bright chalk colours. The first table in Pizza Projekt is an old arcade table, that has been re-purposed as a regular table. I believe it was a Mr. Do machine, but I could be mistaken. I remember St Mary’s Country Inn having these back in the early 90’s; they were infinitely fun and are a great way of injecting retro flair into the room. There are free-play arcade machines to appreciate between, or after, courses which would put a smile on the face of even the most grown up of grown-ups. The main tables have arcade game screens laser-etched into the wood. But the most impressive part of the room, for me, were the wooden benches that were propped up with old Apple Mac G5 Computer towers. This is fantastic repurposing and really adds to the computer game chic that Pizza Projekt is going for. The walls of the restaurant are solid black, interspersed with stark MDF panels that have been spray-painted with bright patterns, these, along with the graffiti murals suit the ethos of the restaurant perfectly.
After turning up without a booking, we were sat (on the G5 computers) and left to peruse the wall, or menu as others call it. There is no ‘American Hot’, no ‘Chicken Tikka Pizzas’ here, from the menu alone you get a sense that the chefs really have an idea of what Pizza should be.
Starting with a garlic bread pizza with cheese is how I like to start most things in life, but I can’t in recent memory remember having one like this. The crust was perfect, the cheese was abundant but not all encompassing and the garlic cloves were chopped confidently large, which I love. This was a great way to learn what Pizza Projekt is all about, at the risk of sounding like Gordon Ramsay; simple, fresh ingredients, cooked well.
Something happened during my visit to Pizza Projekt that really made me happy. Whilst I was enjoying my cheesy starter, a lady and her son came into the restaurant. They asked for a table and were offered the only available space left. Unfortunately, the only remaining space was a bar side table with stools. The lady happened to be pregnant and would clearly not be comfortable sitting at this. The staff simply improvised. They went into the back and found her and her son a small fold away table and made a space where she could sit comfortably and enjoy dinner with her son and child to be. This simple act of thoughtfulness really endeared the staff to my dining partner and I. We agreed that this was incredibly considerate.
On to the main course. We had ordered a salami pizza and the ‘Cheesus’. Simply put, the ‘Cheesus’ pizza was the stuff my dreams are made of. Consisting of 4 types of cheeses, paired with crushed walnuts and onion marmalade, this was just incredible. From the strong cheese flavours that could easily be deciphered between, to the crunchy texture of the nuts and the sweetness of the marmalade this pizza was just a triumph. The salami pizza was equally perfect. We sprung for the extra crust dipping sauces, a chilli mayo and garlic aioli, which were served in small jam jars. These, again; faultless.
If Pizza Projekt is a sign of things to come in the Jersey food industry then I absolutely, 100% support it. I will no longer be getting my pizza fix from any other Jersey eatery. Bring on my next visit to this fantastic place!