By Miriam Mizzi
When I heard a new wood-fired pizza restaurant was opening in West Didsbury, I gathered two of my fellow pizza-loving friends and set about testing whether the chefs at Proove could compete with the already outstanding pizzerias such as Rudy’s and Ply that are so well known in Manchester. Heading to West Didsbury is always a pleasure, the small but bustling high street is full of foodie ventures, most that live up to their fashionable fronts. As we walked past some of my favourite places to eat, I hoped Proove wouldn’t disappoint.
On entry, the smell of building work still lingered in an unobtrusive way, the wire lamp shades captured the mellow glow of the brand new lightbulbs, and the long wooden tables looked ideal for large groups. What stood out the most though, was the huge pizza oven, decorated with the restaurant’s name, and surrounding by two attentive chefs. We were directed towards the back of the restaurant and were happy that we had full view of the pizza-making. The menu states all of Proove’s pizza is made from the best Italian 00 grade Caputo flour and proved for 20 hours — I was almost sure we were in for a treat. As we deliberated, my still-veggie self took note that there was plenty of inventive options that don’t include meat, however, veering away from the likes of prosciutto, roast ham, and fennel salami made my stomach unhappily ache.
Luckily my friends, feeling supportive, decided to share some vegetarian starters with me. We went for the classic order of garlic bread, and a sharing platter named ‘Le Verdure’. Our garlic bread arrived quickly, and we tucked in messily with our hands, tearing at the rosemary and olive oil topped bread. Whilst we were indulging, our waiter brought over a starter we unfortunately hadn’t ordered, so we had to wait a fair while for our sharing platter to arrive — it would have been nice to pair the garlic bread with the antipasti. When the antipasti arrived, we soon forgot the slight order mix-up, and layered slices of bread with the buffalo mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, and grilled aubergine. Our only slight qualm was we would have liked a few extra slices of bread and then the plate could have been perfectly balanced.
Satisfied with our starters, we readily anticipated what we hoped to be the stars of the show, the pizzas. As we sipped on our staple Italian drink — lemon San Pellegrino — we noticed the friendly Italian manager bustling around ensuring all the customers were happy and enjoying their meals. We could tell the staff were eager to get things right, which made us feel slightly on edge at points but, which was good to see. I’m sure with a few more weeks of operation, they will settle in and run Proove to high standard.
Simultaneously, our pizzas arrived and were placed in front of us in all their glory. The Calzone’s size took our breath away and my friend immediately began cutting away at the dome of dough, she later suggested she largely enjoyed her choice, her only slight observation being, there could have been tomato sauce inside the Calzone for extra flavour. My second friend delved into her San Daniele pizza and I could see the toppings of parmesan, rocket and prosciutto combined to make a marriage on top of the rest of the dedicatedly assembled ingredients. Despite, being called boring for my choice of a margarita pizza with extra cheese and an addition of chilli, sometimes less is more. In this instance, I certainly felt this was the case. I could taste each and every fresh ingredient in its own right and this resulted in a thoroughly enjoyable and flavoursome experience. The crust stood out as the best part of the pizza by far, its light but filling texture was perfect to sweep up any leftover leaks from the centre of the pizza. In regards to the centre, it was extremely sloppy. Fortunately, I don’t mind the mess and consistency associated with a pizza like this, but I do know some who prefer a firmer middle.
Once our plates were cleared, I thought about whether I’d recommend Proove to some of my eager-to-get-advice friends, and I decided I would. I don’t think I’d force and push them to go like I have with Rudy’s in Ancoats, but it’s a local, satisfying alternative.