Even though it’s so easy to share, pizza has become the most anonymous of foods.
Sometimes it’s delivered to your house by a dude on a motorbike, who hands it to you with his helmet visor still down. Many of us munch it in an ubiquitous chain restaurant, where it’s cooked by whoever is doing that shift, or we buy it from the supermarket as an easy meal for when the other half is out having fun carousing with his/her buddies, then devour it solo in our pyjamas. It’s also customary to eat it alone on the 3am walk of shame before the square brown box is stuffed into a bin that’s already overflowing with square brown boxes.
Edinburgh’s Origano – a homely pizza joint with personality – is a less sad and lonely way to go.
If you’re a regular, you’ll recognise the friendly owners, who double as front of house, and they’ll probably remember you too. They recently decamped from a very small premises at the top of Leith Walk to a much bigger corner spot further down the same street. In order not to alienate their usual customers, they’ve kept their signature look, which mainly involves sage green livery, cushions and candles, but they’ve added more prints to the walls and now have an open kitchen featuring a fancy oven.
"The bruschetta was topped with wilted mushrooms, gorgonzola and truffle oil"
I always liked the old place for the antipasto, of which there are still large (£11.95) and small (£7.45) versions, available in meat, vegetarian or mixed. We went for a big mixed, which would be about right for a two person starter.
There were a couple of bits missing from the list on the board – we couldn’t find any of the bresaola or olives – but you can’t grumble too much when you’re spoilt by pale lumps of mozzarella, sun-blush tomatoes, a pot of garlic butter and one of red pesto, blush coloured folds of Parma ham, speck and milano salami, balsamic doused rocket, grana padano splinters and triangles of warm focaccia.
The bruschetta funghi starter (£4.95) was pretty good too, with four pieces of toast that were topped with a heady and silky rich mix of wilted mushrooms, gorgonzola, cream, truffle oil, parsley and garlic.
My main of bianca lasagne (£10.45) was listed as containing “aubergine, courgette, mushroom, cherry tomato, pecorino, bechamel and truffle oil” but most of the ingredients must’ve been cooked until their souls had evaporated, as all I could identify was cheese and bechamel, both of which were slathered onto a rather overcooked, squelchy and very saucy pasta dish.
Not that it was unpleasant. That much cheese – a fondue, essentially – never is.
Apart from the antipasto, pizzas are where it’s really at. To paraphrase Meghan Trainor, it’s all about that base. Except this is less junk in the trunk and more crispy, slim and billowing bottom. They’re generous with their toppings too.
Our medium capricciosa (£10.25 for 11ins, £12.45 for 14ins, or £16.65 for 16ins) was blanketed by sugo and mozzarella, then draped with bits of prosciutto, soft mushroom and artichokes, capers and anchovies.
While a medium rosso variety (£10.45 for 11ins, £12.65 for 14ins, or £16.95 for 16ins) packed a heap of flavour onto its generous diameter, with bubbly cheese, discs of oily spicy sausage and nibs of sweet and hot nduja, both of which were balanced by the sweetness of tomato segments and red pepper.
Of course, neither of these giant doughy hubcabs was finished, with a couple of slices of each having to be boxed up for those whose eyes are way too big for their stomach.
I’ve had their orange and ricotta cake (£4.45) before, and it was as decent as last time, with a wedge of dense citrus saturated sponge and a dollop of mascarpone on the side. The lemon cheesecake (£4.45), with crumbles of pistachio on the top, was another homely star bake.
Proof indeed that this is the place to go for comfort food when you don’t want to be just another anonymous 3am pizza muncher. And it certainly tastes better here than on the long cold walk home.
Lunch for three, excluding drinks, £61.35