Fitness gear is the new casual diningwear.
The combination of leggings, trainers and a singlet says I have earned the right to be here. Whatever I eat is fuel that I will be burning off later in HIIT, rather than stash for my fleshy saddle bags. I do burpees so I can get burpy.
I found myself wearing my gym outfit on a visit to the new venue from the team behind Edinburgh’s Civerinos and Civerinos Slice.
It was under false pretences, since my exercise class had been cancelled, but at least I could eat pizza while looking virtuous.
Once The Maltings pub, this place has changed an awful lot.
Designed by Edinburgh-based “maximal design studio” Ja! Coco!, they’ve created the antithesis of the pared back pale wood aesthetic. Think citrus-coloured rubber strip room dividers, like those they might have in a cheerier-than-usual abattoir, oversized green globe lights, colourful swimming pool-esque tiles and lots of my favourite colour – bright Berocca orange.
I imagine that a lollipop lady’s tabard and Duran Duran’s Rio cover were on the designer’s moodboard, though their playlist was in more of a Nineties hip-hop vein, with a bit of Beyoncé chucked in.
The other diners were mainly twenty-somethings, though there was a family with young kids too.
Our chatty and American accented waiter, who had the beard of a young Kenny Everett, wore a highlighter pen hued hoodie.
“Date night?” he asked us, cutely.
We loved him even more when he enabled our over-ordering spree. It was reassuring to know that their Neopolitan-style pizzas (or “pies”, as he called them, US style) are relatively dinky, at nine inches, so three between two was perfectly acceptable (and in the best possible taste!).
There are plainer options, but we went for their more original inventions. If the bases are a canvas, think magical realism, rather than a boring still life of flowers in a vase.
We both enjoyed number 26 (£7). Although obscured by a veil of rocket, underneath was their sugo made from San Marzano tomatoes, as well as a generous contingent of grated mozzarella, clumps of pork sausage, stamps of bacon, slices of pickled gherkins and ladles of barbecue sauce. Sloppy and satisfying.
Pizza number 06 (£6) is a sweeter creation. Without a sugo base, it was topped with halved red and green grapes, toasted pine nuts, ricotta and bits of rosemary, all underneath another forest floor of rocket. As something lighter, this option worked as a contrast alongside the meaty 26.
Those who are partial to a crisp sandwich should try 53 (£6). It had the tomato and cheese base, but was paved by thick cut potato crisps, which were seasoned with “rosemary and thyme salt”. I’m the sort who gets bored by crusts, and sometimes turn my pizza into a vacuous O. They were worth the effort here – crusty and crunchy, since their bases are made with double zero flour.
We’d also ordered the cheese fries (£6) without realising what a massive portion this would be. There was a garden trug’s worth of skinny chips, layered with loads of mozzarella and Parmesan.
At the bottom of the container, the fromage eventually melted and reformed around the potato, so they could be dug up like ancient stick insects encased in amber, all clagged together with their Italian herb seasoning, salt and barbecue sauce. So wrong, so right.
There are only two puddings, for those who get past the savoury mark.
We swerved the Nutella calzone (£7) in favour of hot zeppole doughnuts (£6.50). Like the chips, this was a serving made for two at least, with about 30 mermaid’s purses of fluffy batter covered in a shimmering mixture of sugar and cinnamon.
It was flanked by a pot of whipped cream and, for an additional £2 (we accepted the challenge) one of Nutella. We managed about a third, then packed up the rest to take away.
So there, behold my shame.
To recover from 53, 06 and 26, I’m going to have to buy a cross-trainer.
For now, thank goodness for extra stretchy Lycra.