A YARN ON PRICELESS PIZZA IN THE HEART OF DUBLIN
The Yarn: Pizza and Booze
37 Lower Liffey Street
Irish Daily Mail
15 April 2017
I spent much of the last week travelling around the rather overlooked vineyards of Beaujolais and doing a vast amount of tasting (and spitting, I should add; you can’t afford to swallow when covering up to sixty wines in a day). The weather was sunny and unseasonally warm at almost 20ºC and we were able to sit outside at lunchtime as we tucked into the formule or menu du jour which, incidentally, generally weighed in at €13.50 for three courses.
I like the way the French eat. Generally, there’s a big salad to start, then something meaty with noodles or rice and finally perhaps a simple fruit tart. Decent wine at €3 a glass and a bottle of one of the Beaujolais crus for between €22 and €28.
The other thing that struck me as we drove through Fleurie, Morgon, Chiroubles and the like is that there are plenty of pizza restaurants, just like in the rest of France. Pizza is genuinely big in a country that used to be known for extreme gastronomic chauvinism.
And why wouldn’t it be? Pizza, when it’s good, is one of the world’s great dishes. The French, of course, have their own version, both the Provençale pissaladière which can be almost like a pie, and the very thin ones that are topped with Emmental or Gruyere rather than mozzarella. These you can get in Dublin at the lovely Gaillot et Gray in Dublin 8.
Anyway, we repaired to The Yarn the other night for a very simple reason. We wanted good food with no frills, decent chunky wine, an environment in which elbows on the table would not raise an eyebrow and where one could begin the process of unwinding with a cocktail. In other words, we just wanted to have fun (but being d’un certain age also wanted to be home before eleven if at all possible; this comes to us all in time).
As to the place where all this was to be found, well, this was a no brainer. The Yarn, now open throughout the week, is part of The Woollen Mills. Like there and The Winding Stair, it’s under the baton on Elaine Murphy with whom I spoke a few weeks ago.
“We decided that there were enough fantastic pizza joints serving extraordinary Neapolitan pies and that actually, we wanted something a little easier to share, a little easier to pick up and a little crisper,” she told me. “We didn't want a base quite as crispy as a Roma pie and so, after Ian Connolly, our executive chef, returned from a week of training in a pizza academy in Lazio, along with his chief pizza maker, we realised the style we were after was an Italiano base, softer than a Roma but cooked at the same temperature, and with a Neapolitan style crust,” she said.
It’s managed by Nicky Higgins, brother of Conor Higgins of Oxmantown and Cotto on Stoneybatter and the mixologist is the celebrated Nickie Connolly. The wine man for the three restaurants is the remarkable Sean Gargano, late of San Lorenzo’s and curator, if that’s the word, of a fine selection.
So, how does it eat and drink, so to speak?
Chicken wings, in the sharp, spicy Buffalo manner, were good while aubergine chips (polenta crisped) were exceptionally moreish.
Then pizza – both margheritas, it should be admitted, but one was pure and the other adorned with nduja from Pigs on The Green and pickled green chillis. This is the Irish version of the spicy, squidgy sausage from southern Italy, and very good (and hot!) it is too.
These pizzas were perfect in their simplicity, crisp but not hard, easy to handle, deliciously seasoned, a reminder of why we keep returning to pizza.
We finished with Wexford ice cream – including the rarely seen but rather lovely brown bread version – because we were having fun.
I can’t relate how much this cost because, rather out of character, I managed to mislay the receipt. However, pizzas cost between €9 and €18.