In the teeth of seemingly endless lockdowns (thankfully there finally appears to be light at the end of the tunnel – hopefully not another mutant variant loaded freight train), a revelation to me has been the remarkable resilience of the battered and bruised (and nigh on thrown to the wolves) hospitality sector.
When the pandemic was in full swing, with no end in sight in terms of the enforced closure of hospitality, I feared that we would lose a myriad of places (10% have already disappeared) to the fiscal abyss. As it happened many places rose admirably to the challenge and adapted and most, if not all, of my Cardiff (and wider) favourites seemed to have weathered the covid storm through innovation and sheer bloody mindedness (how much more they can take, if there is any slow down or backsliding in terms of opening up, is anyone’s quess).
One of these was Dusty’s (now de-knuckled) Pizzeria, with a revved up takeway operation and a make at home pizza kit (worked very well in the Ooni).
As Mrs. SF was away for a few days and the weather forecast for the back end of those few days was suggesting that the mysterious golden ball in the sky may be making an appearance (with the end of the monsoon season), I thought a trip to Dusty’s al fresco enclave in the Boneyard close to Victoria Park would save me the bother of cooking. Shiny and new is all well and good and the temptation is always to focus the blog on the next new place, but this is one of the stalwarts of the Cardiff restaurant scene and for good reason.
I shall be reacquainting myself with old haunts over the next few months and expect this to be one of many posts on what are revisits to my favourites.
Reservation made (luckily, as they were pretty much rammed – which was so good to see) for 18.00 on a Wednesday, I wandered down from my Llandaff base.
It is an interesting/quirky set up, with a converted container (where they prep and cook) and a canopied space (where you sit), but once inside said canope (and with blue skies to the sides) it is a quite pleasant spot.
The menu on site rather drastically differed from the online (albeit clearly out of date) one,
with my usual go to pepperoni not present.
There are also a list of specials
All looked very enticing, with lots of interesting combos. Whilst tempted by the basic margherita (always a good test of any pizza place – if they nail that you know you are in good hands) I was drawn to the Italian sausage laden Toscana, which I supplemented with the “Specials” burrata side.
The burrata had that trademark rich creaminess
and came with a punchy romesco and chunks of hazelnut that bought a nice textural contrast to proceeding.
It was all tee’d off very nicely by some very good flatbread (bob on crust, with a good chew on it). Good dish this
The toscana was a blanco pizza and I must admit I have always been of the view that it is a bit weird to have a tomato less pizza. I tend to think that it is the san mazano sauce that makes pizzas so great and thus have never really embraced the bianco. I was, however, happy to have my mind changes on the bianco front.
Lovely looking pizza this with a mottled crust and very generous levels of toppings
The base hit that sweet spot of a nice char without being over.
In terms of the toppings, I did not miss the tomato sauce at all, with the creamy mozzarella cutting the heat of the copious scattering of the red chillis and a squeeze of lemon really setting off said mozzarella nicely. The Tuscan sausage had a lovely aniseed hit from embedded fennel seeds and some great other spicing to it.
The greenery (rapini I think or something of that ilk) salved the “one of my 5 a day” conscious and provided a nice verdant freshness, which cut through the richness of the cheese and sausage. Very good pizza this, although the rapini (?) wasn’t the most user friendly to eat, stubbornly not sticking to a particular slice and then dragging the mozzarella from the adjacent slice(s) over with it.
Not withstanding my battle with the rapini (?), I really enjoyed both of these dishes as testified by the empty plates.
The booze menu (with only a house red and white and a fizz) is shorter than I remember when Dusty was based at the Papermill (suspect the previous focus on natural wine has shifted to Nook and the, hopefully, soon to open Warden House).
Even though it was a school night, I fancied a beer and something refreshing to wet the whistle after my amble down.
A Freedom lager fitted the bill nicely, being a very clean refreshing number. Not much complexity, but I wasn’t looking for that in any event and with the Sun out I quaffed it in double quick time.
Been a while since I have had a Dusty’s pizza and they are as good as (if not better than) I remember. Absence very much makes the heart grow fonder in these trying times.
As for my skepticism as to the merits of a bianco pizza, I am very much a bianco convert on the back of the Toscana here.
Would I go back? Yes, its walkability from my gaff makes in a very compelling option when the weather is not too inclement.
Whilst I didn’t have the dogs in tow (one at the time was still at the rehab. stage after an operation to fix a cruciate ligament rupture), it is good to know that they are resolutely dog friendly.
Really nice to see Dusty’s has weathered the Covid storm and has very much come out punching (despite the de- knuckling).
Address: The Boneyard, Papermill Road, Cardiff, CF11 8DH