Happy Face Pizza: quality and value lives up to the name
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In the hinterland south of Brent Cross - between the railway lines and Clitterhouse playing fields - they are building a new town.
Eventually there will be 6,700 homes, workspace for 25,000, landscaped parks and sports grounds, and a new station; Brent Cross West. But for now there's a pavilion explaining the scheme, an adventure playground, and a road to nowhere - giving off an "if we build it they will come" vibe.
Next to the Exploratory Park playground (open dawn to dusk) is a row of shiny new shops, an offshoot of Hampstead's gorgeous Karma Bread, self-taught bean gurus Cricklewood Coffee Roasters, and Happy Face Pizza, which opened mid April.
It started off in Victoria and King's Cross - another urban townscape conjured out of near nothing - gaining a following for its Neapolitan pizzas, with light-fluffy crusts from 72-hour fermented dough.
The space is airy, clean and stylishly colourful; a pale pink wall with dark green and yellow lettering, and pops of colour on industrial tables. The menu too is clean and lean. A few starters - cured meats, salads, bruschetta - a dozen pizzas, including a vegan pepperoni, and gelato or tiramisu for dessert.
You can start with a cocktail, (£7-£8.50) a classic Negroni or refreshing sgroppino - a citrussy blend of lemon sorbet and prosecco.
Wine, slightly annoyingly, is either by the 125ml or the bottle. Nothing in between. Served in those water glasses you get with school dinners, the Montepulciano was pleasant but at £6.50 quite a lot for not a lot.
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Better value is the bambino menu. Doughballs with butter, a 6 in pizza and scoop of ice-cream for a reasonable £6. My daughter devoured her Margherita, chewy tasty crust; light, fresh tomato sauce, and daubs of quality mozzarella. A full size one is a good value £7.80.
Our starters were nice and simple. Crispy calamari with a punchy garlic dip, and a slightly underdressed burrata with a few cherry tomatoes.
There was more burrata on my N'duja and pepperoni pizza (£15) which had spent a shade too long in the furnace of the Napoli oven, arriving over crispy. But the Salsiccia (£12) was a wonderfully moreish Neapolitan sausage with fresh chilli and mozzarella. We subbed in mushrooms for the friarelli and it worked brilliantly.
The Sebastiano with artichoke, anchovies, lemon zest and parsley looked intriguing too - worth a return visit.
Tiramisu was light and creamy with a nice coffee punch, and a Nutella pizza (£6.50) was an indulgent way to round off our bready meal (one would serve two).
The folk at Brent Cross Town are sponsoring Hampstead Garden Suburb's community music and literary festival Proms at St Jude's and Happy Face Pizza will serving in Central Square on July 3.
In the meantime find them on Claremont Way, NW2, seven days a week. Bookings at happyface.pizza