It seems that every week a new place is opening in the ever-expanding Northern Quarter food and bar scene. Whilst few offer genuinely new ideas to the mix, Ply hopes to bring a taste a taste of Napoli to Manchester. We’d heard good things about the place after it’s opening in March and so took the first opportunity we could to try it out. Could Ply deliver the best vegetarian pizza in town?
For it’s food menu, Ply offered a seductive range of freshly prepared Neapolitan style pizzas. Each of the 13 currently on the menu is created with a sourdough base; surely one of the gourmet fast food trends of 2015. Expect to pay between £8-£12 per pizza, depending on your choice of topping. For the adventurous, Ply also run specials at the weekend, using seasonal veg and speciality ingredients.
Each freshly baked pizza is cooked in a wood fired clay oven – another growing trend in Manchester with two in Altrincham (Market Hall and Pix Pizza) and the recently opened Double 00 in Chorlton – at least that I know of.
Away from their impressive pizza selection, Ply does not offer much else, which is a positive for me. I’d rather frequent a restaurant that specialised in one type of food then one trying to be a jack-of-all-trades eatery. However, if your dinning with guests who are on low-carb/low calorie diets (which I was), or simply do not like pizza, you may get unstuck. The antipasto options (Priced from £2 onwards) have been created to compliment your main meal, and therefore are too small to constitute your main dish. Hopefully this will get rectified by adding a few salad options.
On entering Ply you’ll be hit by it’s styling. It is a vast open space; making other NQ haunts feeling positively claustrophobic after visiting. The bar has been kitted out using locally sourced suppliers, with a mixture of classic and modern European design ideas. For me, it’s one of the best spaces in Manchester city centre.
We arrived around 7.30pm on a Friday evening. The place was packed with after-work drinkers and early weekend revellers cogitating at the bar and on the sofas in the centre of the room. Luckily, we’d had the foresight to pre-book and were seated promptly. I noticed that many couples were getting turned away not long after we arrived so I would recommend you do the same to if possible.
If Ply had one issue for dinners it would have to be the excessive noise– as well as offering pizza, Ply also operate as a bar (food orders stop around 9pm) and probably isn’t the place to go for a quiet conversation. It was loud, with the open plan nature if its’ design not exactly dampening the sound of fellow dinners and drinkers. It did make ordering our drinks when the waitress served us a little tricky. Fortunately, the music choices playing were excellent and added to the Friday evening ambience.
Service was courteous and professional with knowledgeable staff that helped us make our choices. I asked on two occasions for the waitresses opinion on what option to have and on both times she was able to offer suitable suggestions – always a big plus for me. We opted for a dry white wine (Picpoul) that was recommended by our waitress – it did not disappoint.
When you specialise in one type of food, you really do have to nail it – and Ply does with flying colours. I’ve been a few wood fired Neapolitan pizzerias recently and I’m delighted to say that Ply offer the best pizzas available in Manchester. I opted for the Courgette Bianca pizza: a marvellous mix courgette, taleggio, mozzarella, garlic and oil. The taste was simply divine, with the subtlety of the flavours not overwhelming the overall taste.
My partner Lizzie went for the Portabello pizza, a classic mix of tomato, mozzarella, mushrooms and garlic oil, equally delicious!
Fancy a bite to eat in the Northern Quarter? In the space of a few short months Ply has become my go-to place for the best vegetarian Pizza in Manchester.