I once described slices of pizza as crispy shards of joy. Or similar. Regardless of my choice of words on that day, my love for pizza has been long established.
Which is probably why, a month or two after my first visit, I returned to Rudy’s in Birmingham rather than searching out another venue in Britain’s second city.
Birmingham is a place with a burgeoning dining scene, and plenty of places to try new cuisines and inventive ways of serving them. (For the record, if you’re looking to find somewhere to eat, then your best best it to hunt out Bite Your Brum on your favourite social network, and follow her guidance. It was she that led me here, and for that I will be forever grateful).
Rudy’s fits that description to a tee. It offers impressive pizza, quite unlike the heavy, unwieldy and stodgy efforts we’re used to in this country.
But it also challenges my description; makes me reevaluate my thoughts on what makes a truly great slice.
Yes, it should be crisp and light. Yes, you want shard of joy. But you also want softness. You want warmth. You want it to be moist. And most of all, you want it to be an effort. Don’t you?
After all, you’re rewarded for it.
Rudy’s pizza is just that. The slices are crispy on the outside, the toppings are light, but despite the, they still flex in the middle. That is my pizza-epiphany. A light, crisp slice of pizza might be easier to eat, but it’s not as tasty. It’s dry, for a start. It’s less fun, for another. And it doesn’t do justice to the toppings you’ve hand-picked with love.
It also means you need to find a new way of eating. You won’t get a slice into your mouth like the American’s do. You need to double-fold. First you fold the end of the pizza towards the crust. Then fold again, until you’re left with a former-slice that is both crunch and chewy.
So Rudy’s fits the bill as one of the new style of pizza restaurants that have popped up. Modern, vibrant and, well, not particularly Italian.
The decor is minimalist, industrial chic. Picture bare walls, chalkboards and visible air ducts and you’re not far from the mark.
The drinks are just as contemporary with local craft beer on offer next to high quality cocktails and decent soft drinks.
If this sounds too much like a cliche, identi-kit eaterie, then don’t worry. The pizza changes everything. This is what separates it from the countless other pizza restaurants in the city – including one just down the street.
The menu is suitably light – always a sign of somewhere confident in their offering. The specials’ board always includes interesting options, and veggies and vegans are just as well served as nduja-loving Cumbrians.
They offer other options than pizza, but really, what’s the point. I can’t even tell you what they were. I bet they are good, but not as good as pizza.
My choice was topped with the aforementioned Italian sausage, along with a tasty, tangy tomato sauce, a delicious tease of mozzarella and just enough chilli to lift this pizza to that next level.
The staff and service manage to tread that fine line between cool, warm and pretentious perfectly; the staff look like they could be somewhere else, but they really don’t want to be.
When I visited, I was one of only a handful of customers (well it was 3pm on a Friday, but you’ve got to take your pizza fix when you can get it), but despite that, the welcome was as warm as the pizza was hot and the beer chilled. The staff were attentive, and the food arrived as quickly as proper pizza should.
So if you’re in Birmingham this Christmas, and you’re getting sick of faux German food and drink, heads towards the slightly warmer climes of Italy’s ultimate export. If the crowds are blocking your way, then head uphill until you get to Rudy’s.
You must go and eat pizza using the double-fold. Just like my mama used to say.