If you come from Walkden and are of a certain age, there’s a fair chance that Davardi’s is the first place you ever tasted pizza.
It was a little taste of Italy in a former mining town which you’d hardly describe as cosmopolitan (even if it is twinned with St Ouen in France).
There was always a queue for Davardi’s takeaway pizzas, which were tossed and cooked before your eyes in a pizza oven which took up almost the entire serving area. The Italian potatoes were awesome too. It was hot work but the atmosphere was always great, as though the owners were channeling early evening Italian sunshine into the place.
Somehow Davardi’s survived years of chain store attrition from the likes of Dominos and Pizza Hut. I’ve not eaten at/or from the Walkden branch for at least 10 years but I’d definitely credit the pizzas themselves with making the difference.
In a world of thin and crispy, stuffed crust and slightly sinister characters in Spider-Man costumes twirling signs at the roadside, Davardi’s simple formula still remains the tastiest in my memory bank: flat, thin, flexible but delicious, and full of just-cut toppings.
Other signatures were the pizza names: American, Italian, French, countries with no apparent relevance to to the mix of toppings, and the way the takeaway pizzas were handed over in a cardboard box topped in tinfoil.
It’s no exaggeration when I say that Davardi’s new Monton branch has a lot to live up to when I arrive on its first day of opening. Those that know the way Monton has flourished in recent years will know it faces stiff competition too.
There’s a takeaway pizza place about three doors away and at least two other established pizza sit-downs (Leo’s and 6/Cut). Will it work?
The signs are good on this first Friday. I’m doing takeaway for old time’s sake and there are enough familiar Davardi’s signatures to satisfy my curiosity. It’s busy and the staff are feeling the pressure, but that’s to be expected.
The menu is the same and the service has a familiar air about it. The smell is the same too. I plump for the large vegetarian and I’m ever slightly disappointed when it’s served in a modern cardboard box rather than one topped in tinfoil. That’s progress I suppose.
But the pizza itself remains almost exactly the same as I remember it. A slightly thicker crust and a little more crispy than I remember, stacked with those familiar just-cut toppings.
It’s good but not quite so good as I remember in my youth. But then nothing is. Davardi’s is yet another welcome addition to Monton and I’ll definitely be back. You should try it too.