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The best pizza joint in Staffordshire sits half way down Piccadilly, in the heart of Hanley’s buzzing cultural quarter, serving up some of the best slices of authentic wood fired pizza you’ll ever taste.
Opposite The Regent Theatre, with The Orchard and La Bella Napoli for neighbours, is Klay Pizzeria and Bar. It’s been a part of the city centre community for a number of years, and was recently taken over by the fabulous Gem and Rusty from NØRTH, just across the road. The new management have taken the popular business and catapulted it to the next level, transforming the interior throughout lockdown three whilst still offering a busy delivery service and their fun DIY Pizza-in-a-Pan boxes, updating the menu and making it their own.
As you walk into the building, you’re met with the mouth-watering fragrance of dough being fired, and an urban playlist seeping through the speakers. There’s a well stocked bar to the right, and my favourite window seat is still available to the left. It’s a great spot to grab a cuppa on lunch break and watch the world go by on Piccadilly, or equally, a great place to wait for The Regent Theatre to open and get inside before it gets busy. Tables of two, four and six line the left wall where the bar used to be, with a comfortable cushioned bench stretching the length of the wall, and colourful chairs tucked neatly under mustard tabletops.
Our friendly server guided us to one of the best seats in the house: two tall stools overlooking the pizza oven where we could watch the chefs prep and make all of the food. Speaking of staff – Klay are currently recruiting for a number of roles, including a trainee pizza chef, front of house and bar staff, if anyone fancies working in one of the coolest city centre venues around.
From the drinks menu I grabbed a coke whilst Jake remembered really liking the Brooklyn lager last time we came, so ordered a pint for £4.
Having ordered takeaway from Klay earlier in the year, we were already familiar with the new menu and I had my eyes set on the Pepperlonely after making it in my Pizza-in-a-Pan box back in February. The menu features twelve 11 inch pizzas, including five vegetarian and a further three vegan options, with prices ranging from £5.50 for the Easy as Pie, to £13 for Sweet Heat. The menu also sees a selection of garlic bread, mac and cheese and chicken wings as sides, with crust dipping sauces that can be added to your order.
With my pizza of choice locked in, Jake debated between Sweet Heat and the Klay Mac, and opted for the latter due to his fondness of a certain fast food flagship burger. We also ordered some mac and cheese with maple bacon, because I can never resist mac and cheese on a menu. Now just look at this cheese pull.
It was really exciting to watch the team work, from shaping and spinning the dough and adding toppings, to watching them cook in the pizza oven before being removed ready for plating up and finishing touches. I’ll also add that there was very frequent hand washing from staff – just an observation, but a welcomed one!
Now, I’ve eaten some pizzas in my time. I’ve eaten Gas mark 6 for 10-12 minutes for soggy bases and semi-solidified cheese pizzas, I’ve eaten pizzas in Florentine restaurants and I’ve eaten at every major pizza takeaway in a five mile radius of my house – Klay pizzas top them all. But why? Quality ingredients and love. There’s a reason they sold out on their first day reopening after the second lockdown.
The proof is in the proving – literally. The Klay pizza dough takes two days to create. It’s mixed and left to prove for 24 hours before being cut, weighed and balled into individual pizza doughs and left to prove again for another 24 hours. It’s made on site using four of the finest ingredients: blue flour, fresh yeast, fine sea salt and water. But the beauty doesn’t stop there – the tomato sauce is made with rega plum tomatoes, fresh garlic, black pepper, sea salt, fresh basil and virgin olive oil.
Our pizzas were carried literally around two metres from the kitchen to us, loaded with toppings with a drizzle of olive oil. The Pepperlonely comes with rega plum tomato, Hungarian gyula paprika pepperoni, Fior di Latte (mozzarella) and grated parmesan, with the flavoursome fat from the pepperoni oozing out onto the melted cheese. Jake’s pizza – the Klay Mac – featuring rega plum tomato, ground beef, Fior di Latte, white onion, shredded lettuce, diced gherkins and Klay Mac sauce. For crust dippers, I went for the blue cheese dip and Jake had the Sriracha mayo – there are nine to choose from at 50p each, so you really could order them all!
The pizzas are the perfect size to share for lunch, or if you’ve got a big enough appetite, have one to yourself. For a girls night – or lads night – you could order a few and mix and match!
And it’s not just pizzas that Klay do well, their cocktail menu is pretty great too, including espresso martinis, Moscow Mules and my favourite, Long Island Iced Tea. But on the specials, you’ll find the Klay Rum Punch, which literally packs a punch. Made with white and spiced rum, cointreau, pineapple, lime and orange juice, the tropical tipple is best served on a hot summers day – much like the weather we had on Bank Holiday.
Klay reopened indoor seating on May 20, welcoming back diners for the first time in months, and everything ran as smoothly as the rum punch. The service, food, venue and atmosphere was all completely spot on, and I’d expect nothing less from Gemma and Rusty, who know how to adapt to their customers and give them what they want. It offers a completely different feel and menu to their sister-biz, whilst still maintaining impeccable standards, quality and cool metropolitan feel.
I’m really excited to see Klay continue to evolve, as I know the team have some big plans – from the Klay Klub to sauces and merch. So next time you’re thinking about picking up the phone and ordering from that side-street takeaway, think again, and book a table at Klay.