Following hot on the heels of our guide to the best burger in Harrogate we decided to find out what the town’s independent pizza restaurants have to offer. We’ve tried to include as many as we can but if we’ve missed your favourite, let us know.
40-42 Kings Road, Harrogate, HG1 5JW. 01423 553953. Open Monday-Thursday 12-2pm / 6-9.30pm, Friday 12-2 / 5.30-10.30, Sat 12-2.30 / 5.30-10.30, Sun 12.30-9pm.
For more than 30 years, Gianni’s Brio has been a family favourite in Harrogate. The relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff help to make it an easy place to eat when you have all ages in tow, or when there’s a big group. In fact, its Kings Road restaurant is huge, so if you’re looking for a place to hold a relaxed meal for a large number of people, this might just be it.
When it comes to food, Brio is authentic: its staff are Italian and the menu matches. There are plenty of antipasto to choose from, along with a wide selection of pasta, meat and salad dishes. However, our brief is to find the best pizza in Harrogate, so we stuck to that section of the menu – and there was still plenty of choice.We went for the Spinaci e Caprino, featuring goat’s cheese, spinach and confit of shallots, and the Gargantua, with italian sausage, chorizo, ham and chilli.
When they arrived, the portions were generous without being overwhelming, and all freshly cooked on a rustic-looking base. That base was light, thin, and crisp at the edges – just what a pizza should be. The toppings were generous too. Our only minor quibble was that there was perhaps a bit of an overload of spinach, but that’s being picky and is down to personal taste.
If you have time and room left after the pizza, we’d also recommend trying a dessert. The Mousse al Cioccolato was really good, as was the home-made ice cream (so good, in fact, that it has been given its own separate parlour in John Street, which is also worth a visit next time you’re passing). If you’re visiting before the evening rush, the early bird menu is good value and still offers plenty of choice.
Atmosphere – 4/5 – A friendly welcome and plenty of space for large groups.
Crust – 4/5 – Light, soft in the middle and a crispy outer giving it just enough bite.
Toppings – 3.5/5 – A good selection available, and not just run-of-the-mill combinations.
Service – 4/5 – Quick, cheerful and very Italian!
The Lenz, Hornbeam Park, HG2 8RE. 01423 870005. Open Monday to Saturday 8am – 10pm. Closed Sunday.
A business park might seem an unlikely place to find a popular Italian family restaurant but Al Bivio has made its home at Hornbeam Park and has become a real favourite with locals over the years, particularly families living on the south side of town.
Al Bivio offers freshly made pasta, meat and fish dishes plus a daily range of specials as well as an extensive list of pizzas that’s updated regularly with new recipes. When we visited there were 18 pizza options on the menu and with the option to create your own with your choice of toppings the possibilities are almost limitless.
Bread with olives and tapenade is complimentary on arrival and will keep you going as you look through the extensive menu.
We knew we were at risk of dough overload but that didn’t stop us ordering a portion of Al Bivio’s famous Gnocco Fritto too, tasty bite size pieces of deep fried dough served with creamy garlic mayo.
We tried two very different pizzas. On one side of the table was the Macellaio (£11.50), a meat feast of ham, salami, Italian sausage and chicken, and on the other the Ortolana (£8.90), a vegetarian medley of chargrilled aubergines, courgettes, peppers, red onion and fresh chilli.
We dined on a Thursday evening at around 7.30pm and we were glad we’d booked. It’s a large restaurant with plenty of tables but it was packed. It may be tucked away a few miles from the town centre but Al Bivio is a thriving local restaurant with a menu to suit all tastes and some really good dishes for vegetarians. There’s also a “Bambino menu” for kids.
Atmosphere – 4/5 – A bustling Italian that’s perfect for families.
Crust – 4/5 – Well risen, golden and light.
Toppings – 4/5 – Plenty of choice, a generous helping and lots of gooey mozzarella cheese.
Service – 4/5 – Fast and friendly service, just as you’d expect from a good local independent.
12 Mayfield Grove (a couple of doors down from Salsa Posada). Open Tues to Sat 10am-10pm and Sun 10am -4pm
Sorrento Pizza Bar has blasted onto the local pizza scene in the last few weeks to rave reviews so we just had to pop in and try it for ourselves. We couldn’t have felt more welcome and the friendliness of the place became even more apparent later on – we’ll get onto that in a minute.
Sorrento has the feel of a traditional Italian trattoria with the pizza chef taking centre stage, preparing and cooking the food to order in full view. It’s fully licensed and serves pastas as well as pizza, all to eat in or takeaway. We went for the Quattro Staggioni (£7.95) and the Pepperoni (£6.95). Both had a really good authentic Italian flavour and if it wasn’t for the typical autumnal Yorkshire weather outside we could almost have been in Sorrento.
When it came to paying we realised that their card machine wasn’t yet up and running. No problem, they told us, we could just pay next time we were passing. Feeling typically English and uncomfortable about the whole thing, despite their assurances and trust, we nipped off to the Asda cashpoint after leaving and returned minutes later with the money. They were so impressed that they invited us to join them for a Limoncello on the house and proceeded to tell us with passion about their long experience in the restaurant industry and their enthusiasm for independent business. Give this place a try!
Atmosphere – 5/5 – Such a friendly, family orientated place. Can’t recommend it enough.
Crust – 4/5 – Nicely risen and bubbling crust.
Toppings – 4/5 – Really good flavour with the taste of Italian herbs coming through.
Service – 5/5 – They really couldn’t do enough to make us feel welcome.
2 Princes Square, Harrogate. Open Mon 8am-6pm, Tues-Thurs 8am-8pm, Fri 8am-9.30pm, Sat 8.30am-9.30pm and Sun 9.30am-6pm. Pizzas served daily from midday until close.
Family-run Caffe Marconi was launched eight years ago by chef Stefano Lancellotti and his wife Sara. Stefano and Sara also own the nearby Sasso restaurant, a long-standing favourite on Harrogate’s Italian dining scene which is regularly featured in the Good Food Guide.
A native of Italy, Stefano applies the ethos of high quality food and great, friendly service which has made Sasso such a success to the more informal setting of Caffe Marconi.
A café by day, Caffe Marconi offers pizzas from midday until it closes in the evening. The menu has a good selection of 11 oblong-shaped rustic pizzas, topped with a generous amount of delicious ingredients and served on a slate board. We reckon they’re real contenders for the title of the most authentic pizzas in town.
You can choose from the simple Margherita di Sasso (£8.95) with mozzarella, tomato, red onions and parmesan cheese, right through to the Calzone Napoli (£9.50) with tomato, ricotta cheese, salami, basil and parmesan. There’s a veggie option with spinach, pesto and grilled veg, and a spicy choice with chorizo, smoked chicken and chilli oil.
The pizza dough is just the right thickness to be squidgy in the middle and crisp on the outside, and the pizzas are substantial enough that we only just managed to finish ours!
Unsurprisingly then, Caffe Marconi’s pizzas are a popular choice, not just in the evenings but also at lunchtimes. We visited for a weekday lunch and the cafe was very busy, with many diners taking advantage of a great Early Bird deal. This runs from midday until 5pm, offering any pizza plus a soft drink or glass of house wine or half a Peroni for £8.95.
Atmosphere – 4/5 – Definitely more of an informal, cafe feel so maybe not the place to go for a special occasion.
Crust – 5/5 – Rustic crust that’s neither too thick nor too crispy.
Toppings – 4/5 – A good choice of tasty toppings and no scrimping on the amount.
Service – 5/5 – The waiting staff are very welcoming and friendly, and the lunchtime deal is a real bargain!
10 Kings Road, Harrogate. Open 5-11pm Mon-Thurs and 12-11pm Fri to Sun.
When we wrote our Locals’ Guide to the Best Burger in Harrogate Boss Burgers came out on top but within weeks it had closed its doors, blaming too much competition. The owners announced they would be relaunching as a pizza place and we’ve been waiting for its doors to open so that we could complete our guide to the best pizza places in town. Boss was a tough act to follow and we had pretty high expectations. First impressions are certainly good. It has the same innovative vibe with quirky options such as the Erbivoro – a veggie mix of butternut squash, courgette, pepper, aubergine (£8.50) and the Il Vitruviano (pepperoni pizza to you and me). We chose the Paulie Walnuts (£10.50) named after the infamous Sopranos character and topped with minced beef, chicken, bacon and red onion.
Like Boss, the pizzas aren’t cheap but there will always be people who are prepared to pay a bit more for quality. That said, The Secret Pizza Co has some tough competition on the pizza front – even tougher, some might say, than the burgers. We enjoyed the pizza but we weren’t overwhelmed as we had been with Boss. This is more of a takeaway than a sit in restaurant so only captures part of the local pizza market and we’ll have to wait and see whether The Secret Pizza Co can woo the locals in the same way the company did with its burger offering.
One thing that sets Secret Pizza Co. apart though is the option to buy a slice and perhaps enjoy a couple of options rather than a full pizza. They will have two changing options by the slice daily so it’s ideal for a quick snack lunch if you don’t want to stop for too long.
Atmosphere – 2/5 – Very much a takeaway rather than a restaurant, so you know what to expect.
Crust – 3/5 – Thin, crisp crust for those who like it that way.
Toppings – 4/5 – A nice even spread of toppings and some interesting options to choose from.
Service – 4/5 – Service was good and the staff were friendly.
3 The Ginnel, Harrogate HG1 2RB. Open 12-11.30pm Sun-Thurs and 12pm-1am Fri and Sat.
Major Tom’s Social is well known for its large selection of craft beers and rotating cask ales and kegs (such a great selection that they made it on to our Locals’ Guide to Pubs). To go with their great selection of the finest beers on the market, they serve up fresh homemade pizzas to munch on while you enjoy your beverage.
They have got a couple of other things on their menu, such as a charcuterie board and some bruschetta, but pizza is the main event. There’s plenty of choice for vegetarians along with more meat heavy toppings.
Each week there is also a pizza of the week special, right now it’s tikka masala spiced chicken with mango and coriander. In the past there’s been “The Breakfast Pizza” and “The Greek Goddess”, which means there’s usually something new for you to try.
We tried the goat’s cheese, butternut squash and pine nut pizza (£6) and meatball and parmesan (£6.50).
The pizzas were made fresh to order and brought to our table. As we were only two the pizzas came at the same time, but in larger groups, with the limited space they usually stagger the pizzas coming out of the oven.
This is definitely not a three course Italian dinner venue. But for those searching for a cool spot to enjoy a range of alcoholic beverages with friends and a pizza then this is definitely the place to be.
Atmosphere – 4/5 – A relaxed bar to enjoy pizza with friends and a beer.
Crust – 4/5 – Crispy on the edge, but soft enough near the centre.
Toppings – 3/5 – Some different combinations and a regularly changing special.
Service – 4/5 – Friendly service, but you have to go up to order as this is not a restaurant it’s a bar.
When it comes to pizza Harrogate has its fair slice of independent superstars. Here’s our summary –
If you’re celebrating a birthday or eating out with friends and family, Al Bivio has something for everyone.
Work night out or looking for somewhere to satisfy big appetites? Try Gianni’s Brio.
Wish you were sipping Limoncello on the Amalfi coast? Enjoy a warm Italian welcome at Sorrento.
Fancy a taste of rustic Italian authenticity? Caffe Marconi fits the bill.
A relaxing atmosphere with beer and friends? Major Tom’s Social.
Like your pizzas with a twist and the option of by the slice? Go to The Secret Pizza Co.
There we go. We’re now rolling around full of pizza but fear not, we are already working on the next two Locals’ Guides; more food but also an activity based one coming soon!!
As ever if there are some glaring errors then flag them up in the comments below, on social media or via email. These are our own opinions, we visited every place, paid for every slice you can choose to take our recommendations or not!