A stalwart of the street food scene here in Wales, Ffwrnes (furnace in English) Pizza have made the translation to bricks and mortar with a set up in the increasingly food “to eat on site” orientated Cardiff Central Market.
The city centre is blessed with a couple of pretty good pizza places, with the ever popular Cafe Citta and the rather fine Real Italian Pizza Co. There is also the more stripped back Pizza Pronto in St David’s 2. Out in the burbs there are lots more, but they are not really accessible of a lunch time for me from my city centre work base.
There is always room, to my mind at least, for another quality pizza provider in the city centre to meet the lunch time needs of people like me.
I am a frequent visitor to Cardiff Market, as I like to buy my basics (meat, veg and occasionally fish) locally and the market admirably meet my needs on that front. It also increasingly offers the chance to pick up something far more interesting to eat than a supermarket sarnie for lunch, with the likes of Thai Asian Delish, the Cheese Pantry, Hardlines and Holy Yolk, as well as Clancy’s and Milgi Market and the more traditional cafes (such as the Bull Terrier).
I was, therefore, keen to try out the latest addition to the market’s roster, Ffwrnes Pizza.
Situated up on the balcony level (hence the “up market” pizza title)
it offers a pretty pared back and minimalist dining experience, with stool sitting along the side of the balcony and (as should always be the case in respect of eating a pizza) no knives and forks (plentiful napkins are available – a real boon for a messy eater, with a beard, like me). They will give you cutlery if you ask, but my view is the request shouldn’t be made.
It is nice to see a rather fine wood burning oven in the place (God knows how they got it up there mind), which is always the best way to cook a pizza.
It is also reassuring to see use of the correct, San Marzano, tomatoes for pizza.
The menu offers a mix of meat and veggie (including a vegan one) based pizzas, all very reasonably priced at between £5 and £7
For these bargain prices you would perhaps be forgiven for expecting to get a tiddler of a pizza, but as I pondered my choices I saw pizzas coming out of the oven of a very decent size (approximately 11 inches).
This mushroom one was, I thought, a pretty impressive size for £6.
I was torn between being a bit tight fisted (always a consideration as I get increasingly miserly in my old age) and going for the basic margherita (always a good test of a pizza maker’s mettle as there is nowhere to really hide with just the dough base, the sauce and cheese) or spending a tad more (still ridiculously cheap) on one of meaty ones on offer. For the £5.50 price, I was very impressed to see quality ingredients used in the margherita such as fior di latte, parmigano reggiano, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil.
Notwithstanding the undoubted charms of the margherita pizza, I am a sucker for a good pepperoni pizza, here known as the Jiawl Bach (utilising spicy salami pepperoni as the meat element) and thus I ordered this pizza.
What arrived was a, piping hot, fantastic example of what I love about that great fast food that is the pizza.
A lovely light, thin, base and nicely puffed up crust was the medium of conveyance for a rich san marzano tomato sauce. Added to that was a decent amount of creamy (properly gooey and stringy) fior di latte, some fantastic spicy pepperoni (proper stuff, rather than the rubbish you get on a supermarket pizza) and a pleasing hit of heat from a liberal sprinkling of fresh green chillies. They weren’t stingy with the toppings, which were evenly spread. Great feature for sharing, should you be so inclined.
The crust itself was quality (a few slighly over charred bits aside – personally I think these add to the flavour as long as it is just the odd bit) with a really nice lightness to it and a decent chew.
The base was pleasingly thin, with a element of crispness from the outer edge leading to a soggier centre. This allowed for a flop or fold over of each slice (making for easier non cutlery eating).
I thoroughly enjoyed my pizza, despite feeling a bit of a pig in terms of how quickly I managed to wolf it down.
I am a glutton so wasn’t ever going to share, but I think you could easily share one of these pizzas for lunch. £2.75 (if you share a margherita) or £3.50 (if you share a meaty one) seems a total bargain for three decent sized slices of top quality pizza.
Nice to also see a loyalty card, which offers a 9th pizza on the house.
Drinks are currently limited to San Pellegrino, served unceremoniously in the can.
I can, however, forgive this when they are charging a mere £1. Bargain compared to other places in town where €2 plus is the norm.
Add this drink to a shared pizza and you could have a very fine lunch for under £4 here.
This is a super addition not only to Cardiff Market, but also to the Cardiff city centre lunch time scene as a whole.
Top quality, well proportioned, pizzas that are very nicely priced. What more could you ask for of a lunch time?
Would I go back? Absolutely – what’s not to like about fantastic pizzas at cracking prices.
I have actually been back already and on that return visit I had the basic £5.50 marghertia pizza.
Again lovely, with the sweetness (balanced by a touch of acidity) of the San Marzano based tomato sauce really shining through. Excellent value for money (although if I was sharing this one – no chance – I would have avoided the one dinky slice) for £5.50 (more judicious apportionment would be better for sharing).
This addition to the market has certainly dialled it up a notch food wise. Very up market.
Address: The Balcony, Cardiff Central Market, St. Mary Street, Cardiff, CF
Website: Click here
They do both eat in the takeaway.
Opening hours: Tues – Sat: 12.00 – 16.00; Sun – Mon: closed.