A number of raving reviews and a fair few friends’ eagerness to dine at Dough had resulted in high expectations. However, the nature of these anticipations was soon put into question.
Dough’s marketing embodies a chic Italian, at home in the trendy yet unique Northern Quarter. However, upon entering the establishment, this veil of foodie joy immediately began to droop. The interior, lit by a low amber lighting began to feel a little seedy as the evening wore on. Accompanied by the cheap Christmas decorations, I began to feel like I was in a seedy joint in Amsterdam’s red light district rather than one of Manchester’s most hip areas.
Pizza is a rather simple pleasure, one which it is pretty hard to get wrong if I’m not mistaken. Pretty much anybody can produce an average pizza, but a restaurant named after this Italian speciality’s main component had given me high hopes for a great one. However, unbelievably, Dough managed to fail in this respect.
Firstly their sauce-to-pizza ratio. To give a little perspective, my dinner date described their pizza as “a little soupy.” Drowned by the tomato sauce, the base struggled to retain its structure. The pizza’s distinct lack of balance resulted in what Mary Berry would refer to as a “soggy bottom.” If you enjoy your pizza slice à la main (i.e. using your hands, like any normal person), then Dough is certainly not your joint.
Secondly, the tastiness of the toppings. In a bid to branch out, ‘The Philly Steak’ pizza graced my plate. This was, unfortunately, a decision that I regretted from the first bite. The steak quickly cooled and its accompanying ingredients did nothing to compliment this concoction.
The Picante, although an upgrade from my poor choice in toppings, was not much better. Overpowered by the lasting taste of pepperoni’s cheaper and less attractive sibling, salami, what could have saved Dough’s review only worsened it. What’s more the ratio of toppings on this pizza resembled that of a greedy five-year-old’s attempt at pizza making. Accompanied with the soupy sauce, they merely fled back to the plate upon an attempt to pick up a slice.
Thirdly, appearance. In credit to Dough, their pizzas are a sexy looking bunch. Aesthetically pleasing, they are likely to grace the Instagram accounts of many. However, false advertising is something that bugs me more than anything. My taste buds awaiting a slice of pure perfection were sorely disappointed.
Fourthly, originality. Again Dough should be credited for their creativity. Their menu included some interesting takes on the usual suspects as well as some of their own making. There was ample choice of topping combinations, with the aim of pleasing all palates. It’s worth noting too that Dough offers gluten- and dairy-free alternatives of many of their dishes, a real selling point for those of us who are not usually able to savour the delight of pizza.
Fifthly, the quality of the base. The characteristics of a pizza base are a relatively personal matter. Some like it thick and doughy, others thin and crispy and then there’s those that like it to be right in between. Despite this, one who enjoys pizza can appreciate when a base is done well and when it is not. Dough received mixed reviews in this respect. Oddly enough and completely contrary to general assumptions, the gluten-free base achieved a healthy balance of thin base to puffy crust. Whereas the normal base was overly crispy, brittle, and as such, difficult to slice.
Sixthly and arguably most importantly, the cheese-to-sauce-and-toppings ratio. Dough’s mozzarella was a morsel of deliciousness desperately competing to be credited against the other elements. There was just, simply, not enough. Sparsely placed, I found myself picking these rare calcium slivers from the bloodbath of sauce and dismembered body parts of steak.
As you can see, my experience of Dough was not, on the whole, a pleasant one. However, it would be wrong of me not to include the highlights of my visit. First and foremost, the wine. A mellow Chilean number which left the lingering taste of berries on the palate, this beverage was a compliment to the food. The starters too, were enjoyable—Parmesan gnocchi and Spicy Cajun prawns. The prawns were especially enjoyable, aptly spicy, perhaps too much for my friend however. They were well marinated and beautifully complimented by the bed of rocket on which they lay.
The gnocchi, due to an order mistake by our waitress, had been left in the oven too long and thus burnt my eager tongue from the moment they connected, impeding my enjoyment of the bites which followed. This was particularly unfortunate as from my remaining healthy taste buds, I could detect that it was remarkably tasty. The starters and the many choices I did not have room nor time to try would perhaps form quite a pleasant tapas-style meal.
Ultimately I left with a burnt tongue, red wine lips, and a few unwanted slices of pizza in tow, that were thrown out, in disappointment, the morning after. Dough would most certainly not be recommended to a friend but perhaps to somebody I wished to have a rather disappointing evening.