For some time now, I’ve been hearing about this great pizza place called Da Mario on Queens Road, Westbourne. With an apparent traditional wood-burning pizza oven, the Italian in me is bursting with excitement at the thought of some real, homely pizza.
Just down the hill from the heavy traffic of Poole Road, Da Mario is hidden away. The first thing I see when I walk through the door is the giant pizza oven in the middle of the kitchen, like a beacon of light to hungry passersby. The first thing that comes to mind is the times I’ve spent with my family in Italy where a proper pizza oven is a thing of pride. Feasting on pizzas fresh from wood-fired ovens is probably the best thing about having Italian heritage!
Da Mario has its own wood-fired pizza oven
The first face I see is a smiling one, she’s wearing a blue hat with the Italian flag on the front, and an apron with tomatoes on it. I’m immediately brought back to my Nonno’s kitchen, she’s never without two things, a hat and an apron, even when she’s slaving over a hot oven.
I notice the menu in front of me on the counter and have a look. There are a whole bunch of different pizzas to choose from and I’m having a hard time deciding. I can get the Margherita pizza for £5.00, then choose a few toppings from the list. Each topping is 75p and there’s a great selection, including olives, goat’s cheese, jalapenos, ham, pineapple and so on. You can watch your pizza being assembled and then placed into the great oven, the flames flickering and flaring from within.
I go for mushrooms, artichokes and olives, and grab a soda from the fridge taking a seat in front of the window looking out onto Queens Road. There are a few tables inside and two comfy-looking table and chair sets perched outside on either side of the entrance. The front of the pizzeria is all glass and feels open and airy. I watch as a band bring in their drum set through the side door of the music venue Champions, across the road.
Mushrooms, Artichokes and Olives make a delightful pizza
In what seems like a flash my pizza is brought over on a wooden board, cut into squares. I get freshly cracked black pepper over the top, forgo the knife and fork and immediately pick up my first slice. The crust is one that I think even my picky grandfather would approve of, and I certainly do as I eat piece after piece. It’s nice and thin and has the perfect crunchiness on the edges. The tomato sauce is delicious and there’s just the right amount, the same with the cheese. There’s a good amount of toppings and the mushrooms are fresh, the black olives are large and juicy, and there’s plenty of tangy artichoke.
As I devour the delectable pizza I notice a heavy stream of customers ordering food to take out. On the other side of Da Mario is a young couple waiting for pizzas, and more people are coming in and out chatting and ordering pizza for takeaway. Pizza I would say is the top draw at Da Mario but this place also does pasta dishes and desserts.
I finish off my last piece of pizza and the sun is just starting to set outside so it’s probably time I set off. I pay for my meal and say goodbye to the smiling faces at Da Mario, it’s started to get quite busy and the pizza oven is still fired up and ready to go.
Da Mario is like your favourite band; you think they’re the greatest thing in the world but you secretly don’t want anyone else to find out about them. As much as I’d like to think this place is going to be my best kept secret, I think it’s safe to say the secret is out. I step out into the evening air with a very happy tummy, the smell of home in my nostrils and thoughts of Italy floating around in my head.
Da Mario, Queens Road, Poole