The hunt for great and fast “pizza” in Sussex has become a bit of a mission for me since I moved here 9 years ago – and I use those inverted commas because I am by no means a traditionalist. I originally hail from the home counties and have no ties to Italy, so my concept of fast food pizza is pretty loosely based on ‘bread, cheese, tomato based sauce and whatever other stuff goes well’.
But that’s not to say I’m not fussy – and even with those parameters I’ve encountered many more places that in my opinion get it ‘wrong’ than ‘get it right’. So often I’ve tutted and wished for more say over how the pizza was constructed.
Welcome then, to MOD PIZZA – newly opened as part of Brighton Marina’s new restaurant area. MOD’s origins are in Seattle, where the first branch opened in 2008 and grew with an ethos of providing positivity for both staff and community – the key influences being “authentic Italian street pizza and the UK Mod movement of the 60’s and 70s”.
You’d be forgiven then (particularly in Brighton, a place absolutely drenched in Mod history) for half-expecting to walk in and be surrounded by roundels and pop art, with the sounds of northern soul, Weller and Small Faces blaring from the speakers. In actuality, it feels very much like being in an American diner – not a parka in sight and MOD PIzza’s US highway sign-like logo ubiquitous alongside graffiti style artwork and photos of smiling people on the the walls. During our visit with my daughter, the music (always an important factor to a nerd like me) was like a particularly choice 70’s 80s and 90s disco (The Smiths, The Clash, Simple Minds, Bowie, The Cardigans, Cake all present). No mod culture, then – but very pleasant nonetheless.
On entry you are greeted by one of the restaurant’s friendly team members – as helpful as you could wish for, which is a good thing as this is no ‘usual’ pizza outlet and on first visit a little guidance is useful. Sure, there is a menu on the wall with a number of ‘set’ pizzas listed, however these are to be considered more of a ‘starting point’. From there you give your name, choose the size of the base and then start deciding how your pizza is REALLY going to turn out. If you fancy one of those set options that’s great but you’re the one in control and have a crazy number of options to choose from: 5 types of sauce, different cheeses, loads of meats and vegetables, finishing touches (sauces and drizzles) and spices. Don’t be shy – as whatever toppings you choose on your pizza, it will have the same standard cost for the size of base you’ve chosen (‘mini’ at £4.47, ‘mod’ at £7.47 or ‘mega’ at £10.47). Also available are salads or garlic or cinnamon strips for starters, as well as a vast array of soft drinks, millkshakes and even beer. Take a seat and you’ll get a call when your food is cooked.
For our order my daughter and I both had a strawberry milkshake, I stuck with a ‘mod’ size ‘Mad Dog’ from the set menu and my ever-fussy daughter had just a ‘mini’ base with double cheese and ham (no sauce). The milkshakes, I have to say, were LOVELY. Thick, creamy and oh so moreish. We both greedily devoured most of ours in the short time it took for our pizzas to be called out. My daughter devoured her pizza quickly too, ending with a satisfied grin. In fairness her fussy nature means there’s not a lot that could go wrong . For my pizza I have to confess that I’ll take more care in future to experiment with toppings and be a little fussier. I chose ‘Mad Dog’ (essentially Mod’s take on a ‘meat feast’ style pizza) as much to test the water as anything – so can say that while as a pizza it was sound, it was a little sparse on toppings. Some of the meats I’d lay off next time for sure, and I’ll definitely rev the cheese up to the hilt.
But this is the point of the place – you have room to experiment and really what you eat is down to you – with each visit an opportunity to be as creative as you can be. What you get is friendly and speedy service, a welcoming environment and a full sized pizza meal at a highly reasonable cost. Will I return? Definitely. And this time I’ve a few grander ideas for that pizza….
MOD Pizza are celebrating Spreading MODness next week (22nd – 27th November), where the company among other charitable initiatives will be donating £1.00 of every pizza purchased across all of its restaurants in the U.K (Brighton, Leeds, Newcastle) and the U.S. (114 across 16 states) to a local charity partner.
In Brighton the ‘MOD Squad’ are teaming up with ongoing partner-charity Rocking Horse to celebrate one of the key aspects of spreading MODness “Gratitude with Attitude”, encouraging staff (AKA. The MOD Squad) to give back to local communities through in-store fundraising initiatives and engaging customers with the activity all week. This year, the company expects to donate over $250,000 to charity.