It’s a logistical nightmare trying to juggle two large pizzas, side salads, wine and water on a modest table. It’s also a challenge I could happily spend the rest of my professional life perfecting.
“Anything else?” asks the waiter, balancing a hefty pot of garlic mayo precariously on the edge of the platter as the pièce de résistance of this fine-looking feast.
Right now, in the cosy confines of A capella, with rain running in rivulets down the outside of the window onto the darkened street outside, the heady scent of freshly-baked pizza filling the air and good company, life feels just about complete.
This popular neighbourhood café and pizzeria on Wells Road has that sort of effect. The stresses of everyday life melt away in the face of really good pizza.
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At one nearby table, two men are ready to order. “We’ll have the usual please,” says one of the pair confidently. The usual, when it arrives, is a large pizza to share. One of the men begins to liberally grind seasoning over his half, while the other wastes no time in tucking in. It’s a comfortable, well-practised routine and one I like to think will continue for many years to come.
Serving hearty breakfasts and deli-style lunches by day and pizzas by night, A capella has been perfecting its award-winning recipe for the last 13 years. And the number of occupied tables on a rainy Wednesday night are testament to its enduring success.
Back to the task in hand; with wine bottle safely deposited on the windowsill, we set about tackling the two mammoth pizzas (it’s a BYO restaurant so upgrading from medium to large pizzas seemed justified considering the savings made on alcohol).
Resplendent as they take over the wooden tabletop, each pizza is visually stunning and tastes even better.
The hand-made dough bases are perfectly crisp and the toppings hot, fragrant and a testament to the real craft behind pizza-making. The Arioso (£14.95 for the 14” and £12.95 for the 12”) is a heady combination of rich tomato sauce, mozzarella, roasted Mediterranean vegetables, black olives and homemade pesto.
The Cadenza (£13.95 for the 14” and £11.95 for the 12”) swaps the vegetables and pesto for silver skin anchovies, capers, chilli and garlic in what proves to be another winning combination, the chilli providing a subtly warming kick to the well-balanced combination.
The tangy mango and tri colore salads (£4.95 and £5.45 respectively) provide a light refreshing bite to complement the main affair, while the garlic mayo is tasty but probably unnecessary in hindsight (especially when it turns out it costs an extra £1.50).
The meal proves far too much even for two diners with large appetites – but that’s the beauty of pizza, you can take it home to enjoy all over again tomorrow.
In no rush to leave this pizza paradise, we lazily sip wine and our eyes are soon drawn to the cabinet of homemade desserts. Throwing caution to the wind, we top the meal off with a brownie to share (£2.70). Served slightly warmed and with a scoop of vanilla, it doesn’t disappoint.
Apart from the addition of vegan cheese for 2020 and regularly refreshed displays of local artwork, this independent, family-run business has changed little over the years.
A capella’s reputation reaches far beyond its south Bristol neighbourhood and it’s no wonder because any restaurant that can turn pizzas into such a joyful art form deserves citywide recognition.
A capella, 184C Wells Road, Bristol, BS4 2AL
0117 971 3377
All photos by Ellie Pipe
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