There’s nothing quite like that first bite of a slice of slightly too hot pizza when you’re ravenous.
And for many, there’s only one place that really hits the spot – in fact it’s a place that has become the stuff of legend in a certain part of Nottinghamshire.
Mention Poppa Pizza in or around Beeston and you’ll likely be met with a big smile and an anecdote about how it’s the ‘best pizza in Nottingham’.
This family run pizza shop has been serving up hundreds of homemade pizzas each week for 38 years now and is known for many miles around.
We went along on a Friday afternoon to remind ourselves just why this place is talked about all over the county.
At the shop, which has a comforting traditional feel, we were met by staff member Alessio Viola, 25, who was getting ready for a busy Friday night shift and was holding the fort for the owners.
Alessio couldn’t have been more welcoming and was very happy to show us exactly why Poppa Pizza has such a positive reputation.
There’s no one ‘best seller’ he told us as it really depends on the customer so we opted for a 12 inch Mamma Mia, loaded with ham, mushrooms, salami, pepperoni and sweetcorn and settled in to wait the 10-minute cooking time.
The restaurant, which is mainly takeaway but does have a quiet seating area in the back, is a family-run business that opened in the 80s and is still owned by the same Gharamarni family.
It’s 4.30pm when we arrive and despite having just opened for the night ahead, the phone rings continuously and a small queue is forming straight away.
We don’t have to wait too long for our bubbling pizza to be served and can already tell we won’t be disappointed.
There’s something unique about Poppa Pizza and anyone who’s tried it will know just what we mean.
It has a thick, doughy, yet crispy base which gives it a real chewy punch and makes it so satisfying.
The chunky toppings sit safely encased in the slightly crispy cheese top layer, as if lovingly tucked in rather than thrown on top as an after thought.
We knew it would be good but it really does live up to its reputation with its salty sweet tomato sauce and toppings that stay moist under the cheese.
But don’t just take our word for it. There are plenty of customers who happily vouch for just how good this place is.
Poppa Pizza has a 4.5 rating on Trip Advisor and some rave reviews from pizza lovers who travel far and wide for this particular takeaway treat.
One customer wrote: “Been going to this poppa’s pizza for 12 years now have to travel 10 miles to it BUT it’s the best pizza ever tasted by far anywhere in the country.”
Another post reads: “I’ve been coming here since I was literally a baby. My parents even used to come on dates here before I was born. I’m now 30, and live 25 mins away, but still make the trip over for this pizza. Homemade, fresh, deep pan and absolutely delicious. Also so so reasonable compared to the crazy chain prices. If you guys ever close I will be so gutted!”
Dozens of those posting head up their review with ‘Best Pizza Ever’ and one says ‘A little slice of Italy right here in Beeston’.
Sarah Robinson, 46, from Chilwell, who is eating in the small restaurant area tells us: “We’ve been coming here since we were 18. In all that time the pizzas have never changed. It’s just so good. Once you try it you’re hooked. There’s nothing else like it anywhere.”
And it’s not just the taste that makes its customers so happy, with lots of posters mentioning the reasonable prices that keep the Beeston favourite at the top of the takeaway list.
Our 12 inch Mamma Mia cost £9.40 and we also ordered a zingy 9 inch Al Capone, with Chilli Peppers, Green Peppers, Beef and Pepperoni at £6.60.
Other popular menu items include the Poppa Special with salami and black olives, the Vegetarian that includes pineapple and the meat loaf.
Prices start at £3.50 and go up to £13 for a 14 inch meat loaf for seafood pizza.
The little pizza place, which wraps around the corner at 108 High Road has a relaxed, welcoming feel that’s just not matched by bigger chains and staff meet the continuous stream of customers with a genuine, easy going, unfazed style that’s hard to come by but perhaps comes from knowing their product has stood the test of time.
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Up to 200 pizzas are sold on a Friday or Saturday night, but just what is the secret of Poppa Pizza’s success?
Well, Alessio tells us “it’s a special recipe that the owner has been making exactly the same way for fifty years”.
We’re not really likely to find out what goes into that unique dough mix to make it so perfect, especially as the owner in question happens to be away when we visit.
But that’s OK because we’ll definitely be back and one thing’s for sure, we know that all of Poppa’s loyal customers will be hoping that special recipe lives on for another fifty years and more.
Poppa Pizza takes cash only. Call ahead for opening times.