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La Pizzeria Ristorante Reviewed

Jonathan Schofield on the faux YAFI in the Northern Quarter

Written by . Published on August 12th 2013.


La Pizzeria Ristorante Reviewed
 

I WAS once in Wakefield for an interview as a bookshop manager.

Wakefield is on a hill. As I walked up the main street, Kirkgate, I glanced to my right and charging up a steep alley straight at me were two massive rugby league types.

A side salad looked like it had been recently regurgitated by a cow from its last two mouthfuls because the cow dimly suspected the greenery had been sprayed with weedkiller

At first I thought, as true Tykes, they'd sniffed me out as a Lancastrian. Then I realised they were chasing a big dirty rat, shouting "Kill the fucker!" in an accent so broad you would have needed a guide and a team of huskies to cross it.

The rat darted into a drain and escaped. It was clearly gone, but the men grimly kicked at the rim of the drain for a good twenty seconds.

Pointless. 

On another occasion I had a meal in a Cafe Rouge.

Even more pointless and far less entertaining.

Now we have La Pizzeria Ristorante on High Street in the Northern Quarter (NQ) to help us precisely locate the true north of pointlessness.

This is a temporary restaurant, or if you bloody insist a 'pop up'. It occupies a space above the Market Restaurant, the one time eighties pioneer leading the vanguard of aspirational food and drink into the semi-derelict, rag-trade, ragamuffin, Northern Quarter. Readers with long memories will recall the sunshine days of pudding clubs, Mary-Rose Edgecombe and Peter and Anne O'Grady.  

The Market - gun for hire

 

The Market - gun for hire

Now to help balance the books - one assumes - The Market has become a gun for hire for wandering multi-nationals with more money than sense who wish to break out of niche markets into the wider world.

The first of these breakouts came from Kahlua in March. There was maybe a tidsy bit of justification for this brand to hijack the Market. The Kahlúa Coffee and Cocktail House was 'inspired by the heritage of Veracruz, Mexico'. Now there's nothing a NQ slacker likes better than to fall in love with something exotic sounding from the developing world. Makes them feel tingly inside and 'in touch'. Same goes for me. That's why I went to Wakefield for a job.

Lovely upstairs room - maybe a bit too cute for frozen pizza

Lovely upstairs room - maybe a bit too cute for frozen pizza

But letting the Market to La Pizzeria Ristorante is surely a leap of faith too far. We're not talking the hot tropics here but Iceland. And not 'the land of fire and ice' either, rather the modestly scaled frozen food supermarket on a street near you.

Yes, Manchester, lock up your daughters and restrain your sons, Dr Oetker the frozen pizza giant all the way from Bielefeld in Germany has opened a temporary restaurant until 7 September. Forget Rogan and his vain and fey food at The French, this is the real deal. This is fine frozen fare. 

Dr Oetker you see, would appear to be an optimist. 

The restaurant is selling the genuine article, the actual, untarted up, frozen pizzas you get in the shops. It's doing this as though they have any culinary value.

It appears Herr Doktor believes the typical journey of his pizzas from freezer cabinet to the gullet of people who think five a day is a very low number for vodka shots can be transformed by preparing said pizzas in a restaurant and serving them with some greenery and maybe a beer - or in my case a coke in a plastic cup.

This isn't going to happen. The pizzas taste exactly like they're frozen Dr Oetker pizzas; bitty little things, easily overdone at the edges with low grade ingredients on top.

I had one called the 'Ristorante Speciale' with vile pepperoni. It tasted synthetic, like I was being made to eat a plastic pizza from a primary school play box. There were things on there that looked like mushrooms but if so they'd had a very hard life. A side salad seemed to have been recently regurgitated by a cow from its last two mouthfuls because the cow dimly suspected the leaves had been sprayed with weedkiller.

Synthetically challenged

Synthetically challenged, a bit tatty round the edges

To be fair to the pizza it couldn't help being bad, it was in its nature; nor could the chef have helped, unless he'd worked hard to completely reconstruct it with fresh ingredients which he couldn't because that's not the point.

The point after all is promotional, to encourage people - when suddenly struck on how shockingly low they are on processed, ready meals - to think: "I must run out and purchase one of those bitty little Dr Oetker pizzas, easily overcooked at the edges, and with low grade ingredients on top." 

Right. Yeah.

At least my lunch was cheap. The £4 receipt for pizza, salad and drink will definitely be the lowest food and drink bill ever presented to Confidential's harassed Master of Expenses, David Boyd (aka Gordo and Schofield's Gluttony Cushion). He might faint. He might frame it.

Meanwhile children's meals are £3.50, evening adult meals for three courses and a drink are £10. These prices are reasonable aside from one thing: the pizzas are horrible. 

It's really hard to fathom this one. 

I'm fairly sure the considerable expense taken to create this temporary restaurant in the NQ is a waste of effort and unlikely to lead to an upsurge in either sales or reputation for Dr Oetker's empire - an empire of ten billion Euros turnover FYI. 

So Dr Oetker doesn't profit from La Pizzeria Ristorante, the reputation of the Market Restaurant suffers and the only customers who gain are those who don't like food - or prefer a deal to food.

The whole exercise is as pointless as chasing a rat down a drain and then kicking the wall after it's escaped.

But it's not as much fun and the rat, should you catch it, would probably taste better than the pizzas.

I hope the Market Restaurant returns to its senses soon and creates a menu that fills its tables upstairs and down with real diners and real food rather than hosting gimmicks such as this. 

You can follow Jonathan Schofield on Twitter@JonathSchofield or connect via Google+

ALL SCORED CONFIDENTIAL REVIEWS ARE IMPARTIAL AND PAID FOR BY THE MAGAZINE.  

La Pizzeria Ristorante104 High St, Northern Quarter, M4 1HQ

Rating: 7/20

Food: 2/10 (Salad 2, pizza 2)
Service: 3/5 (The David Luis look-alike waiter was a very pleasant chap)
Ambience: 2/5

PLEASE NOTE: Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20, we get carried away

 

Img_4028The menu - ooh delicious

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49 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

AnonymousAugust 13th 2013.

Not sure it's all that pointless. Its got you talking about it. (and many other 'foodies')

AnonymousAugust 13th 2013.

What do you expect for £4? I'm pretty sure this review was undertaken on the back of the Daily Mail article last week on the very same place. Not everyone can afford to lunch in 63 degrees, Australasia, Neighbourhood, Chichetti 7 days a week like your faux luvvie lot you know.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Nickster123August 13th 2013.

The restaurants you mention are not 'Pizzerias' and are the more upmarket restaurants of Manchester so not a fair comparison. For £1 extra you can go to Slice in the Northern Quarter and Chroma by the Town Hall and be served up authentic pizzas meal deals. Surely a more appetising and choice and money better spent!

AnonymousAugust 13th 2013.

Daily 'cancer' Mail ? You read that?

Good GobbleAugust 14th 2013.

I see your point that £4 is cheap but you can get loads of good value, really tasty food at Arndale Food Market across the road at similar prices. Then you're supporting the local economy, avoiding the big chains and getting a better meal too :)

AnonymousAugust 13th 2013.

Sounds like bitterness - a load of food bloggers made to feel pretty foolish by not noticing they were eating frozen pizza at the launch!

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 13th 2013.

That's exactly what it is.

Good GobbleAugust 14th 2013.

Absolutely no one failed to notice it was frozen pizza.

AnonymousAugust 13th 2013.

Had this not have been exposed as a hoax, I was fully expecting ManCon to give a typical fawning and crawling write-up

JayAugust 13th 2013.

Has Gordo tried to tap them up for some advertising yet?

3 Responses: Reply To This...
GordoAugust 13th 2013.

Did that two weeks ago Jay ;-)

AnonymousAugust 13th 2013.

No doubt if they had signed up, the articale would have been cast in a more positive light on how witty and elaborate a hoax it was.

AnonymousAugust 13th 2013.

*article

pollolocoAugust 13th 2013.

I would have thought pretty much everyone there would have noticed they were eating frozen pizzas....its not rocket science....we aren't talking abstract art bollocks here.

AnonymousAugust 13th 2013.

I was surprised it took everyone this long to work out it was Dr Oetker Ristorante pizzas. All the initial publicity shots were the same ones on the adverts and on the boxes, the low costs, not one reviewer/blogger smelled a rat, even wrote glowing little features on the launch. Now it's come out that it's frozen pizzas and they all feel like twats, it's 'pretend we weren't fooled at all and slag the place off'. In any case, as far as frozen pizzas go, you'll be hard pressed to find a better one than Dr Oetker!

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Big BenAugust 13th 2013.

Are you serious? They're bloody shocking even compared to Tescos. Whose 'best of' are pretty good by the way, in the chill cabinet

AnonymousAugust 13th 2013.

I am serious but haven't tried Tescos Best of. Not that I eat frozen pizza much these days but I'll check them out Big Ben.

Good GobbleAugust 14th 2013.

Quite a few people smelled a rat before they got there but actually it was it's association with the reputation of The Market Street Restaurant that gave the invite and press releases it's credibility.

SquirrelitoAugust 13th 2013.

I'm sensing sour grapes here

JimAugust 13th 2013.

Its strikes me as a particularly spiteful review done because the reviewer has resented the fact he has been tricked into wasting his time at a promotional event.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Good GobbleAugust 14th 2013.

I don't think the reviewer went to the launch event did he?

Denise FranceAugust 13th 2013.

I loved the review (funny, as ever), and I loved the stunt. You may not have enjoyed eating it Jonathan, but well done the guys at Brazen for providing an entertaining high note and some great 'notice me' exposure for their client.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
Dave WAugust 13th 2013.

Ah, it's Brazen! Actually the biggest brand killing excercise in Manchester for a while. I thought it was some London fuckwit agency. These pizzas are killed stone dead by every other pizza in Town, it's done nothing build the brand, fore a couple of quid extra you can eat far better nosh in ten other gaffs and all home made. This campaign is bollocks. And I've eaten the pizzas. I bet the Brazen boys n girls are ranting like crazy,mcheck the IP addresses Confidential

AnonymousAugust 13th 2013.

Denise, is that 'notice how really crap our pizzas are' actually? A really pisspoor idea this.

Caroline EardleyAugust 13th 2013.

Totally biased review that smacks of bitterness at being "fooled" - It seems like a bit of fun and has delivered what it clearly set out to do - get tongues wagging about Dr Oetker pizza. In this respect you're playing directly into the PR company's hands!

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 13th 2013.

Have you been there Caroline? It's empty and really pooh. Tongues are wagging alright, dissing the brand. Are you working for Brazen?

AnonymousAugust 13th 2013.

I can't wait to go now that Schofield has pooh-poohed it

1 Response: Reply To This...
Clint EastwoodAugust 13th 2013.

Yeah. Simpleton. Bit of a smell of PR bollocks to this rant feed.

AnonymousAugust 13th 2013.

Stop the press, pompous self appointed food 'critic' (with no concreate qualification other than a thirst to massage his own ego and a need to dump his self important opinions on all and sundry) is made to look like a right a plum and now feels rather silly.

3 Responses: Reply To This...
Big BenAugust 13th 2013.

Brazen again? You lot really are working the keyboards hard. loving that a PR poxy firm are having a campaign backfire on them

EmmaAugust 13th 2013.

I don't know anything about campaigns and such. Just to say I went in with some girlfriends over the weekend. It was very reasonably priced, but I wouldn't feed one of the pizzas we had to our dog Barry.

Mark Garner the PublisherAugust 13th 2013.

I would call Schofield a lot of things, but pompous isn't one of them. I appointed him, by the way, so he isn't even self appointed.

pollolocoAugust 13th 2013.

Brazen, turd, polishing springs to mind.

HieronymousAugust 13th 2013.

In what way was Schofield 'fooled'. His review is from after the launch by which time the stunt was made public. PR gonks all over the show here.

Georgina Hague shared this on Facebook on August 13th 2013.
Poster BoyAugust 13th 2013.

Good grief JS, do dismount from your high horse. It was a PR stunt, and much to the chagrin of those who were taken in by attending, one that obviously worked (ref; Daily Mail and its mass market readership + website). No doubt you're not happy that the Good Gobble blog (oh, dear) has given you a wrap across the knuckles for ManCon providing a vicarious endorsement by carrying the original PR (now taken down I see), or maybe it's because Gary Newborough has broken rank, and also chosen to take advantage of the Daily Mail exposure. Who knows really? What we do know is that a Oetker frozen pizza is no different from any other frozen pizza (or frozen anything else), readily enjoyed every day in many of the bars and restaurants across Manchester, including some of those Mancon have reviewed and ergo, recommended. Do calm down. It's not attractive.

4 Responses: Reply To This...
GordoAugust 14th 2013.

Poster Boy, what restaurants are serving frozen pizzas? I missed all this as I was away in Cannes, deffo no frozen pizzas there....

GordoAugust 14th 2013.

Ps, who is Gary Newborough and what ranks did he break from? And, why did Brazen seek to make new media look like tits? Have the lost their mind?

GordoAugust 14th 2013.

Pps, has anyone come away from this (groan) pop up and said, bollocks to Chroma, I want a Doctor Oatcakes Pizza please? Are they any good?

Good GobbleAugust 14th 2013.

It is a bad name for a blog isn't it :)

BonzoAugust 13th 2013.

Good point - where is the original PR piece ? Ah yes - it's here - www.manchesterconfidential.co.uk/…/Win-Launch-Party-Tickets-For-La-Pizzeria-Ristorante… Lighten up you lot. It's done exactly what PR is supposed to do - got people talking about the product. Who cares what they taste like ? They already sell by the bucketload - here and in the rest of Europe.

Clever TrevorAugust 14th 2013.

I bet Brazen won't be getting anymore restaurant launches.

Richard HJAugust 14th 2013.

Blimey. It's hard to see how anyone comes out of this sorry episode with any dignity. Crappy pizzas remain just about good enough to watch TV to. Local journos feel as if they've been stitched up by a PR company chasing the tail of the next piece of meaningless coverage that comes along. The Market Restaurant - so long outside of the vagaries of fashion - has bean cheapened a little. Still, there will be a PR award ceremony along soon to enter. Oh wait,we do have a winner after all. It's all a bit tawdry isn't it.

Hero
Peter BurlingAugust 14th 2013.

A BRAZEN RESPONSE.. Brazen PR has executed a strategic exercise here to bring to life our client's claim of being the only pizza in the frozen aisle that truly recreates an Italian pizzeria taste at home. Sales data shows that Dr. Oetker Ristorante is the best selling thin & crispy pizza in the UK and our response was to create 'La Pizza Ristorante', to show that our pizzas reflect the quality of a restaurant setting. The result is a well executed exercise that we are very proud of in collaboration with an established Manchester restaurateur operator that certainly grabbed headlines not just in Manchester but nationally and internationally. That reviewers love or loathe the pizza is personal taste and we welcome feedback. We also hope that those attending the invitation only launch event, without the preconceptions often associated with frozen food, enjoyed the hospitality on a balmy Thursday evening and took our 'reveal' with the best intentions. The fact remains that lunch for £4 (with a free pizza voucher to use on your next shop) is great value however you slice it - why not try it for yourselves and support your local independent businesses and let me know what you think peter@brazenpr.com

3 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 22nd 2013.

Wow, do you measure sentiment of coverage? All news is not good news. Moronic PR. How can you claim that millions of people dissing your client's product is good. You placed it out of its depth and made it a laughing stock. People do not care about the value. People care about a good eating experience, and by positioning Dr Oetker's pizzas the way you have, you've forced people to sit back and take a look at how bad the product is. Also, why has such a massive company gone for such a harebrained, scatter gun campaign with such a provincial agency. Probably cause this was a pilot to test how Dr Oetker pop up's would fare. Not very well. Nice guinea pig work Brazen, you've inadvertently made Mancunian's look moronic in the process. You really need to work on how you evaluate your work if this is the crap you are producing - then having the gall to defend. ps all your coverage was phoney. It wasn't the manager trying to fool critics - it was a carefully contrived stunt by a major brand. I'd bet the press release stating the critics/foodies were tricked was written long before the launch even happened. Where's the proof anyone was tricked. None of the nationals actually have any reviews.

AnonymousAugust 23rd 2013.

What does supporting 'local independent businesses' have to do with a tawdry PR stunt for a multi-national conglomerate?

AnonymousAugust 23rd 2013.

I guess by helping Peter at Brazen not get sacked for his idiocy

HieronymousAugust 14th 2013.

A quick guide to help decipher PR speak - "pizza in the frozen aisle" = Frozen pizza : "our pizzas reflect the quality of a restaurant setting" = Can't actually bring myself to claim our pizzas are restaurant quality : "however you slice it" = I've worked in PR so long I can only communicate in smarmy puns : "the preconceptions often associated with frozen food" = Good taste : "an established Manchester restaurateur operator" = Something that operates a restaurant owner : "your local independent businesses" - If you live in Bielefield

Blogger BillAugust 23rd 2013.

By the way there was nobody from Manchester Confidential at the launch. So Schofield went afterwards

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