Proper pizza: the arguments about what it is and who does it best rage hard. But here, at Johnny Di Francesco's Lygon Street pizzeria, they're confident they're doing it right and they have the hat tip from the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana – Napoli's official pizza police – to prove it.
It's here that all the pizze are cooked at 400 degrees for 90 seconds, rendering the base crisp, lightly charred and pliable like a pair of starched pants. The fast scorch also preserves the integrity of the freshly sliced prosciutto, sweet tomato sugo and soft torn chunks of buffalo mozzarella they ship in from the homeland.
You can tell the die-hard locals from the itinerant crowd who nightly fill the twinkling, tiled trattoria. They're the ones with napkins spread far across laps – those who know that it's a race to get Margherita to face without the toppings slipping straight onto pants.
It's not all dough fun here. People are smashing through Aperol Spritz' cocktails and cheesy ricotta-stuffed zucchini flowers everywhere you look. You can also take all those cured meats and cheeses that festoon the bar straight up on big antipasti boards.
We're all about getting bar side where you can watch them work the gates to pizza hell while downing crisp bottles of Menabrea – their alternative to Peroni – with meaty green olives made meatier with a veal mince stuffing. They sizzle those suckers in olive oil for a salty bar snack of champions.
The service and ethos is emphatically Italian. Winks are fired almost at random, and if you can't decide between the soft, creamy tiramisu and a hot-pocket calzone stuffed with Nutella, you can get a dessert board with up to three.
That's how it's done.