When your boyfriend (now fiancé!) is a full time chef working in a restaurant your local food bloggers love, its to be expected that food would play a large role in our lives. We’re both massive foodies, and if days off aren’t spent with him cooking and me baking, its more than likely that we’re dining out for food. Even so, despite our versatile taste buds and the vast amount of food he’s cooked for me, there’s still one thing which is undoubtedly my favourite meal; pizza.
We’re pretty lucky here in Cardiff as we have quite a few places where we can get a stand out pizza – Dusty Knuckle, Calabrisella and Cafe Citta are just some which spring to mind. When I realised another pizza centered venue was opening up under the rather apt name of The Dough Thrower, I was immediately intrigued. Sadly, with a hectic work period and a partner who works incredibly unsociable hours, its taken me quite a while to finally sample their food. Fear not, for it was definitely worth the wait!
From the outside The Dough Thrower, like many other food favorites in Cardiff, looks pretty unassuming. It’s situated next to Pettigrew Bakery, an absolute favourite of mine, with a simple dark grey and white exterior. A natural design style continues inside, with wood panelled walls, wooden tables, and various greenery hanging above us as well as dotted around in pots. I think the design inside compliments quite well the fresh and high quality produce which The Dough Thrower are proud to use, with a very organic feel throughout. Low hanging lights, somewhat artistic in design, contribute to the small yet cosy atmosphere.
The star of the show however was undoubtedly the open plan kitchen, featuring the massive pizza oven named Bruce, which was actually imported from Italy. Working in the same industry means my boyfriend is always fascinated by open plan kitchens, but it was just as fun for a non-chef like myself to watch the likes of the giant pizza paddle maneuvering our food for the night.
Although the pizza is of course the star of the show, The Dough Thrower does do several starters. Although tempted by the ‘Fire baked cauliflower bites’, we decided to share the more basic ‘dough sticks’. These seem to be a firm basic in many of the Italian chain restaurants so we were keen to see how these would compare to such mass produced items. We were both pleasantly surprised by the chunky size of what awaited us, coming a long way from the measly connotations of a ‘stick’. As you can see from the photo, you can tell these have been cooked in a proper pizza oven, with that slightly burnt/charcoal exterior which gives a deliciously crisp taste as you bight through to a much softer interior. The bulk of these are, as you would expect, extremely doughy, much more so than anything you’d get from a chain restaurant, and you can tell the dough has had an incredible amount of time to properly ferment.
We went for the ‘mojo verde’ dip on the side, which was probably my favourite thing about this starter. It’s an extremely acidic dip which was full of a herby flavour, allowing the sharpness of it to cut through the stodginess of the dough. It really elevated the dish in my opinion and added something more exciting to a quite standard starter. It was well priced at £4, with the generous size of the sticks providing enough for both one or two people to start snacking on. I was also pleasantly surprised that when they cleared our plates away, they purposefully left the rest of the dip for us to enjoy. A lot of places clear all of the food away with your starter and its a real pet hate of mine, so this was a nice little touch.
With a choice of eleven pizzas, as well as the option to add different toppings, I was somewhat excited to pick my main. The variety is great, but what was really impressive was the produce which the menu carefully lists. With the likes of high grade 00 flour from Naples, mineral salts from Himalaya and bittersweet tomatoes from Naples and Puglia, you can see that this team are really very keen to give not only the best flavour, but also the most authenticity they can to their pizzas.
In the end I opted for the ‘Brooklyn Pie’, one of their ‘Benito’s choice pizza’s’ consisting of tomato, mozzarella fior di latte, prosicutto and pickled onion. With a basic margherita pizza coming in at £8, I though the pricing of £11.50 for my choice was fairly reasonable for the quality of the added ingredients. However, once my pizza had arrived I was even more impressed with the pricing considering the gigantic size in front of me! My plate was fairly big anyway, but my pizza actually still hung over the edges! I only hope the photos do the hefty portions justice.
Now, as well as an impressive list of quality ingredients, The Dough Thrower menu tells how they leave their dough for 96 hours to ferment before its ready to go. My pizza certainly did justice to such claims, with the the sought after ability of having an incredible rise on the generous pizza crust, whilst still maintaining an overall thin and crisp quality to the larger base itself. With my boyfriend having an outside pizza oven himself, we both know how tricky it can be to get the right finish, but these really were done to perfection.
They were also extremely generous with their toppings, something you can definitely see from my photos. I’m obsessed with pickled onion and these were as fab as I could have hoped for, adding a nice bitterness to the sweeter tomato and cheese. The meat was great, with that slight saltiness you would hope for. My only issue was that I did find it hard to get through as I was cutting my pizza, but that’s to be expected from prosciutto anyway, especially when the sizes are as generous as we have here. Perhaps smaller pieces would make it easier to cut?
The thing I loved the most, and what actually took me by surprise, was the delicious tomato base. Its an aspect of a pizza which I think is often overlooked, but here it really did come through as the star of the entire show. I like a lot of sauce on my base, and similarly to the toppings they were once more plentiful in their distribution of it. I often find that once many pizzas are cooked the sauce almost begins to dissolve on the surface, getting lost in the cooking process. Here we actually still had that lovely sticky sauce consistency which provided a great base for the creamy mozzarella to blend perfectly with. The flavour was fantastic, with fabulously acidic tomatoes which had been balanced out to a great level of sweetness with the addition of other ingredients.
My boyfriend went for the ‘Calabria’, consisting of tomato, nudja and mozzarella fior di latte and also priced at £11.50. As always I managed to sneak a slice to try for myself and was as equally impressed with the flavour and heat from the spicy, almost melted, meat.We also shared a side of cheesy ‘patas bravas’ which came in at £4.50. They tasted great with proper chunks of crispy potatoes with fluffy insides. The cheese melted well and the sauce brought the dish together, but I did find the dish a little bit odd to find on the menu despite the pleasant taste. It was also extremely filling to have with the massive doughy pizza so make sure you share! Drinks wise, whilst I opted for a rather boring glass of water, my boyfriend sampled one of the ‘Brooklyn East’ IPA’s. He’s a lover of craft beer anyway and he enjoyed this one as a nice change to then usual.
As a seasoned pizza pro who eats the stuff multiple times a week, I was expecting to finish the entire thing, so I think its a testament to the food that even I couldn’t finish it all and actually had to leave a whole quarter (yes a quarter!) of my pizza. The staff were kind enough to box it up for me to enjoy at home, and I did notice that they also offer take away pizza, so definitely something to consider if you live locally and are looking for something more refined that a Domino’s.
I really enjoyed trying somewhere new for my pizza fix and was definitely impressed enough with the taste to come back! Not only was the food great, but the service was also extremely friendly, quick and attentive, despite the quite informal setting. A great addition to the Cardiff pizza scene!