53 John Street
Phone: 051 844 969
Irish Daily Mail
30 May 2015
A place that does pizza and burgers. And chicken wings. At that rate of going, it could be pretty well anywhere and the chances are – given that most Irish people who are drawn regularly to these modern restaurant staples don’t care much what they eat – it could be grim.
But, on the other hand, a great hamburger is a thing of a joy forever; and pizza, in the right hands and made with the right raw materials, can be one of the great simple dishes of the world. I know there are so-called “foodies” (a word, incidentally, which makes my skin creep and my stomach turn over) who would rather starve than even cross the threshold of a restaurant that specialises in such dishes but that, to be quite honest, tells you a lot more about them than it does about the best expressions of this kind of cooking.
It’s a relief that this kind of person – whose manifold insecurities gets expressed in their approach to food – will almost certainly eschew Burzza, one of Waterford’s newer restaurants, because it will leave all the more room for the rest of us. It’s not a big establishment and on the Sunday evening we visited, we were lucky to snaffle a table.
You know almost immediately that you’re in good hands. The drinks list suggests an Aperol spritz (a combination of Aperol, an orange-based cousin of Campari that’s big in Venice, with Prosecco served over ice) for a modest €6.90. There’s the reassurance of high quality organic Italian flour in the pizzas, and the name checking of excellent producers, like Toonsbridge, makers of buffalo mozzarella in north Cork.
And there’s the bare tables, the friendly service, the cross-section of people, from a gaggle of teenage girls to middle-aged couples like ourselves and the odd first date. Burzza is a splendidly democratic place and you would feel comfortable sticking your elbows on the table. Oh, yes, and prices are reasonable (especially when you consider the size of the pizzas which weigh in at 12 ½ inches).
We parsimoniously shared a small starter portion of buffalo wings which were well above average, if not particularly striking. A spicy dipping sauce and a dredging of celery salt, however, were impressive.
The burger was the “Grazer Special” which we ordered in the low carb version, i.e. without the brioche bun (which we observed at a nearby table and I have to say it looked far superior to the average piece of bread that generally does service as a hamburger holder). Instead, it was folded, rather prettily, in leaves of iceberg lettuce, something that quite enhanced its intense savouriness.
For a start, the beef (from a local butcher, named on the menu) was properly aged and had that hint of gameiness that is the only true reason for eating hamburgers. Added to this, and actually within the burger itself, was a layer of smoked Knockanore cheese (made by neighbours of ours near Tallow). There was melted mozzarella on top, a dollop of homemade relish (tart and spicy but mellow at the same time) and thin, crisp pieces of bacon from Crowes’ Farm up in Dundrum, Co. Tipperary.
This was (a) as far from a generic, commercial hamburger as you can get and (b) it tasted that way in its rich, decadent savouriness. Actually, it was a relief that it didn’t have a bun; that would have been too much for us.
Skinny chips were upgraded and came with grated Parmesan on top, with a truffle mayonnaise dip. They wilted after a while but this is because, commendably, they were made with real potatoes in the kitchen and not bought in frozen in sacks.
A diavola pizza came with a topping of creamy mozzarella overlying a thin smear of well judged tomato sauce (so often the Achilles’ heel of pizza when time or money is being spared) and on top of that three kinds of spicy sausage, thinly sliced and starting to crisp at the edges, including (a pleasant surprise), nduja.
It was darn good. If I wanted to quibble (and I don’t) I’d suggest a more even thickness to the base but this is a mere detail.
We concluded by declining pudding on the basis that we could fit no more, and had an espresso instead. With three glasses of wine and an Aperol spritz, the bill for this fun meal of real food was just shy of €70. We’ll be back.