In a month when a national pizza chain opened amid a hullabaloo of publicity a branch in Birmingham city centre, quietly an independent pizza joint opened three miles away.
Poli is a new venture by the young guys behind Grace & James, a bar and deli that specialises in natural wines, trendy beers, charcuterie and cheeses.
It’s next door to G&J in York Road in Kings Heath, an area that can boast some great little businesses.
What a shame that Poli hasn’t enjoyed the same blaze of publicity as the local outlet of an expanding national chain.
It’s an absolute gem and is destined to become a go-to place on those midweek nights when I can’t be arsed to cook.
Like G&J, the wines and beers are artisan and likewise the ingredients that go into and on the Neapolitan-style pizzas.
As well as a range of pizzas (obviously), there are snacks, small plates, dips for the pizza crusts and desserts.
Pickled grapes were an interesting nibble as we waited for other dishes to arrive – their natural sweetness offset by perky acidity.
Though I enjoyed their sharpness, a little added sugar may have made them a better companion for the Puglian red wine I was drinking.
But they went well with a plate of Black Hand English Coppa – ruby red slices of pork with a good level of sweet fat and a rich flavour.
A plate of wood fired cauliflower was nicely scorched and came with a punchy red pesto and hazelnuts.
The cauli itself retained its firmness and earthy flavour.
But now on to the stars of the evening – the pizzas.
My pizza bianco was a glorious thing – the sourdough crust as soft and yielding as a pillow and blistered here and there by the woodstove’s intense heat.
On top lay buffalo mozzarella and a gently smoked version of the southern Italian cow’s milk cheese scamorza.
A sprinkling of pecorino added saltiness and a touch of umami, a black pepper cream gave a hint of heat.
Opposite lay a margherita – that simple combination of tomato, mozzarella, basil and pecorino which leaves no room for error or cost-cutting.
Here the cooking was spot-on and the quality of the ingredients top-notch.
After the generously-sized pizzas came a shared dessert – a strawberry, shortbread, marshmallow, jam and chocolate ice-cream sandwich from the snigger-inducing Happy Endings company.
It was great in an adult childish kind of way.
Glancing now at the menu, there’s not a single pizza I wouldn’t order – though high on my next-to-try list are the puttanesca and guanciale versions.
Likewise a lunchtime visit for a plate of roasted bone marrow with sourdough alongside a glass of something robust and red.
It’s a pleasant place to sit – more cafe than posh restaurant.
Business seems rightly to be brisk – proving that quality and passion can succeed even without hype.
Need to know
We spent £30 a head on lots of food and a good bottle of Primitivo.
There are vegetarian dishes.
Poli is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Opening times vary the rest of the week.
York Road, Kings Heath, Birmingham B14 7SA.