Capperi, Bordeaux

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This year we were planning to go back to South West France for five weeks. After being stricken with an ulcerated leg for six months, what do we get? four nights. Basically that’s three meals out so, in a city with as many great restaurants as Bordeaux, you might be surprised that one choice was a pizzeria.

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But this is no ordinary pizzeria. You find it bang in the centre of Bordeaux just around the corner from Place de la Bourse before you get to Eglise St Pierre and the tangle of wine bars and restaurants that jump with tourists when night falls.

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The first remarkable feature of Capperi is its size, the full extent of which is shown in the photo above. Behind that tiny width of wall to the left of the door is the entire working area and that includes a high counter for boxing up take-away pizzas and serving customers – the queue starts forming from 7.00 p.m. Against that wall is a small, single-tray, two-deck oven and barely enough width to peel the pizzas in and out of it. Below the counter is a second work surface where Signor Capperi and his assistant arrange the pizza toppings. In addition there is a woman who does the front of house duties, constantly nipping through the gap at the end of the counter to the tiny bit of storage space right in the far corner. I couldn’t work there; I’d never get through the gap.

In the remaining space to the right of the door they manage to seat 12 diners, 6 elbow- -to-elbow along the outside wall (guess who copped for the corner, the only way out to ask the two people adjacent to climb out first), a table for two in the window, and a table for four by the inside wall. Against the inside wall is shelving full of bottles of mainly Sicilian wines and olive oils. But despite the cramped surroundings it was very convivial and relaxed with Signor Capperi’s smile frequently appearing above the counter to make sure everyone was OK.

If you take a look at their website and facebook page you’ll see why I was interested. I’m sure others exist but this is the first time I’ve come across a pizzeria putting so much emphasis on long, naturally fermented doughs, the use of local organic and ancient grains and the quality of ingredients.

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I went for the Boscaiola, Sue the Tartufo. Pizza heaven. Really good balance between the crust and the toppings which are very generous without being detrimental to the base. The crust clearly contained wholemeal flour which contributed to the flavour. It was fully baked through but light and flexible.

My Boscaiola was baked with tomato sauce, mozzarella and mushrooms, then a very generous layer of the sweetest, most tender ham, slices of parmesan and finally rocket was added. I gave Sue a taste but didn’t share; the generosity button clicked to “off” and the curiosity button disengaged – how could Sue’s be better than mine?

Now I look at the ingredients, Sue’s Tartufo was not unlike mine minus the mushrooms and rocket plus a whole buffalo mozzarella placed in the centre of the pizza after it came out of the oven. She was very taken with the simplicity and effectiveness of a final sprinkling of dried oregano.

We never got there but they even manage a pudding: a tiramisu served in a preserving jar. The couple next to us shared a pot but no way could we eat anything else …

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