I have been aware of Jamie’s Pizzeria Oxford for quite some time now but had never visited. One reason being that I didn’t really understand if it was part of Jamie’s Italian, a separate thing or how you even got to it. Now that I have been it all makes sense…. Jamie’s Italian is all of the upstairs and most of the downstairs while Jamie’s Pizzeria Oxford is one part of the downstairs area and is easiest accessed from the door shown in the picture below. Think of it as a ‘basement annexe’ to the main restaurant, with its own menu, pizza oven, tills, waiting staff etc, etc.
Make sense now? Well just to confuse things, while it looks like all the people you see through the window are in the pizzeria, they are actually in Jamie’s Italian.
It was a muggy evening in July when I visited. Walking in through the door it was really warm in the upstairs area, but as I went down the stairs and into the Pizzeria I was pleased to find it was lovely and cool from the air conditioning. The restaurant is compact and bijou but without tables being so close to as be intrusive, with seating for around 30 or so at full capacity. The decor is simple and effective, with the exposed brickwork of the building softened by panelling and mirrors. Good to see matching tables and chairs rather than the random rickety old rubbish saved from the skip that is so often found in restaurants at the moment.
The restaurant was empty when I arrived so I had the pick of the tables, picking a spot along the bench at one end of the room. I was just getting settled when the waiter came over with a carafe of iced water and poured me a glass which got MAJOR bonus points from me. Makes a nice change not to have to ask for it or to have them try to flog you expensive bottled water.
I was also impressed by the special pizza knife that was laid out, so often you are given some cheap and nasty knife that is about as effective as using a spoon and you end up having to tear the pizza, rather than cut it. Everything was clean and shiny, the restaurant was spotless and the table wasn’t sticky – little things I know, but they all add up to make a difference. I ordered myself a beer and some olives while I checked out the menu to see what was on offer.
The Marinated Olives (£2) were really good but could have done with a toothpick or olive pick to help eat them, instead, I had to use my fork which was a bit awkward. Instead of the olives as a starter, I could have had roasted almonds (£2) or hand stretched garlic bread (£3) with a variety of toppings available. As it was the olives went nicely with the crisp fresh taste of the beer I had ordered.
For the main course, you have a choice of nine pizza options and a ‘Forno’ oven-baked dish of the day to choose from. On this visit, the Forno option was a Baked Crespelle – spinach and basil baked in gluten free buckwheat pancakes with smoked mozzarella with sweet buttery leeks and Sicilian tomato sauce (£10) which looked very tasty when I spotted a fellow diner who had ordered it. The pizzas are cooked in the restaurant which is equipped with a pizza oven and small prep area at one end but the Forno came through from the main restaurant, I guess it makes sense to share the special between both and take advantage of the larger kitchen on site.
Having had a good look at the menu I went for the Funghi Misti pizza (£10.95) with a Porcini mushroom sauce and topped with roasted herby mushrooms, mozzarella and chervil & tarragon.
I was seriously impressed, surprised in fact, by how good it was. The base was thin and tasty, cooked so that the outside had a good crunch while the edge had a good doughy bite. The sauce was good, quite rich but not overpowering and the mushrooms were well cooked and really full of flavour. The mozzarella had melted into gooey globs that had spread nicely across the top of the pizza. It was a good size, around 10-12″, enough to be filling without being a struggle.
I would normally have gone for the Margherita or Chilli Freak, something with a tomato base so it made a nice change to have the Porcini mushroom sauce and my concerns that it was going to be TOO mushroomy were unfounded.
The ever-attentive waiter was quick to take away my plate once I was finished and asked if I wanted a coffee or a desert. He gets bonus points for knowing all the ice-cream flavours when I asked him what was on offer without stumbling through a half-remembered list and I ordered 3 scoops to finish off the meal. I opted for vanilla, chocolate and caramel – all very good indeed, despite having to eat them with a spoon that was so small it could have been stolen from a dolls tea set.
I had noticed a few customers come in and order take-out while I was there, waiting while the pizza was freshly made and cooked for them to take away in a box. There was also a sign on the wall advertising that you could also order their pizza via Deliveroo, making it a very attractive alternative to Dominos or The Hut.
I went into Jamie’s Pizzeria Oxford apprehensive and expecting to be disappointed, but instead I went away pleasantly surprised. It is definitely somewhere I am going to return to in the future and it makes for an attractive option if you are in the city centre and looking for somewhere to grab a pizza. Even the toilets were nice!
Bitten dined as guests of Jamie’s Pizzeria, but as ever, we retain full editorial control.