THE traditional pizza, like most Italian dishes, is an adherence to a simple food philosophy: Minimum effort, maximum satisfaction. This culinary mantra – popularly asserted by celebrity chef Gino D’Acampo – involves taking good ingredients and cooking them using uncomplicated but sure methods that will guarantee positive results.
Given its taste and simplicity it is no surprise that pizza can be found in virtually every country across the world. What is surprising, however, is that so many manage to get it wrong. I consider myself lucky, therefore, that I live relatively close to Little O’s Pizzeria.
It would be remiss of me not to mention that I am a frequent visitor to Little O’s takeaway in Andersonstown, so when I visited their new sit-in restaurant on the Lower Ormeau my expectations were set, making the experience all the more surprising.
As its brightly-lit signage suggests, the South Belfast premises still functions as a takeaway, and while some takeaways have a habit of cramming in a few benches, thus rendering them a restaurant, Little O’s have utilised ample space to create a genuinely pleasant dining area that is more befitting the description. Tastefully lit, with dark tones, purposefully exposed ceiling pipes, and an open kitchen, it has all the hallmarks of a modern eatery.
While I was somewhat taken aback by the interior, the menu offered a familiar selection of pasta, pizzas, sides, and a few other Italian staples – which is certainly no bad thing. Being an indecisive pair, my partner and I kicked things off with the sharing platter, which allows a choice of three starters.
Our first pick was the slow cooked wings, which were almost falling off the bone and tossed in the now famous Frank’s Hot Sauce – hard to go wrong, really.
Up next was the cheesy garlic mini pizza; a perfectly thin and crisp base covered with pungent garlic butter and a generous amount of stretchy mozzarella that was beautifully blistered in the oven.
Our third starter portion was the meatballs, a speciality made by head chef, Giuseppe. Contrary to earlier descriptors of Italian food’s simplicity, my experience of the traditional meatball is that can be quite tricky to make and, consequentially, widely varied in quality; too much breadcrumbs and you have a doughy mess, too much meat (or the wrong kind) and they can be tough and/or dry. That said the meatballs at Little O’s were spot on – light, smooth and perfectly combined. They were seasoned with a combination of herbs and, crucially, a nice amount of fennel. The incredibly fresh, sweet and tangy tomato sauce was a great accompaniment.
To round things off we went for the signature ‘Little O’ pizza, which was topped with peri peri chicken, bacon pepperoni and peppers. The ingredients were fresh, well prepared, and cooked to the same high standard as our earlier mini pizza. The spiciness of the chicken and pepperoni is stunningly contrasted with the sweetness of the peppers, whose flavours are amplified by the roasting process.
Having long frequented Little O’s in the West of the city, I had no doubt that the pizza was amongst the best in Belfast, but its Ormeau Road restaurant was a welcome change that exceeded expectations.
Italian food is beautiful in its simplicity, and this description is easily applied to Little O’s. Put simply, this is quality food at takeaway prices, all served in the comfortable surrounds of a modern restaurant.
Did I mention it’s BYOB?
Little O's Pizzeria
114-116 Ormeau Road, Belfast BT7 2EB
TEL. 028 9023 4000