Edit: Previous version of this review stated that gluten-free and vegan mozzarella was default, in fact these are options.
Last year Exeter lost two great pizza restaurants. The Base & Barley became The Book Cover and Pizza Stein turned into Bierkeller, leaving diners in Exeter without a central place to grab hand-made thrown pizza. Yes, there are plenty of little Italian places that do good pizza but nothing in the city centre.
Enter ‘The Flat’, a vegetarian/vegan pizzeria set-up and run independently located in the heart of Exeter’s quirky and wonderful West Quarter on Fore Street.
I had heard rumours about the launch of this restaurant for a few months from multiple sources, so to finally see it in full and set up ready for business was very exciting.
I never normally visit restaurants within days of the opening, it isn’t fair to review a restaurant when things are being tweaked and they are bedding in, but we were anticipating great things so we couldn’t wait.
So Tori and myself headed down with our good friend Lewis, owner of Exeter’s premier comic book shop to give Exeter’s newest restaurant a test-run.
Great things happen when pizza is met with passion, and here is a restaurant that produces some delicious pizza. There is a strong desire to accommodate those with particular dietary requirements and they offer gluten free bases and optional vegan mozzarella which I might add, is home made! The interior of the restaurant is simple and unassuming with exposed utilities following the trend for modernist, exposed ducts and dark woods.
We hit the evening off with Beavertown Session Neck Oil IPA which was reasonably priced given the way drink prices are going at the moment for £3.75. Then a Garlic Focaccia (£3.50) for starters, which wasn’t technically focaccia but we ignored this fact, as it was moreso Garlic Flatbread which is just as nice!
There was three of us so this was a perfect for nibbles size but for those with a bigger appetite, this would feed one person comfortably.
The selection of pizzas is concise but includes a well thought-out range of different tastes. All the bases are gluten free, and everything is hand-made and hand stretched.
Tori went for the Garlicky (£9.50 10 inch), I went for the Smoked (£10.50 10 inch) and Lewis went for the Olive Tree (£9.00 10 inch).
The pace of the restaurant tonight was distinctively European. It had a relaxed atmosphere which was only enhanced by a large gathering of Italians on the next table – I could close my eyes and be somewhere in Florence or Rome. It also makes you realise what a fantastically diverse city we live in.
The Smoked was a lovely hand-made pizza, full of flavour and covered in delicious Smoked Halloumi. Tori’s Garlicky was covered in veg and looked colourful, Lewis’ Olive Tree was well topped and tasted very nice, we were told.
We finished off procedings with a long espresso and some people watching from the big windows that look out over Fore Street.
One of the things that Fore Street lacks is a good evening destination. The Flat joins The Jasmine Thai restaurant a little further up, a few kebab shops and Angela’s at the bottom. There have been drives to market the West Quarter and get shoppers down from the High Street beyond South Street.
This will always be a challenge, but I like to think that the more restaurants that open at this end of Exeter will add that little bit more to the Many Reasons To Visit Fore Street.
I am stoked that this is a Pizzeria in the centre of Exeter and I am chuffed that this is a vegetarian/vegan establishment that is joining other similiar places in Exeter like Herbies, The Plant Cafe and Rabbit up near Sidwell Street.
To add to it the pizza is nice, it is cheap (Beer and Pizza potentially for under £15) and their ethos is in line with my own.