The humble pizza has been a fast food favourite in this country for as long as I can remember. As a result of this popularity the concept has been pulled and stretched more times than the dough that forms its base. We have had thin crust, deep pan, stuffed crust, no crust and even hot dog stuffed crust (who on earth allowed this); it has been open season when it comes to the pizza, and generally to its detriment.
The pizza has a long and distinguished history and the dish that we know and love today has its origins in 19th Century Naples. As with most Italian food, the success of the dish is in its simplicity and timeless flavour combinations. This is something that has been very much lost over time, especially outside of its native land.
Fast forward to the 21st Century, and more specifically Brighton Marina, and you will find MOD Pizza, the latest fast food pizza chain to hit our shores. The brand started in Seattle when founders Scott and Ally Svenson combined their “love of authentic Italian street pizza and the UK Mod movement of the 60s and 70s”…no I’m not sure what the connection is either; except perhaps mopeds.
Their aim is to serve super quick pizza that fits in with busy family life and is both affordable and delicious. Given its focus on family friendly eateries the Marina is the perfect location for MOD.
We stopped by on a Saturday afternoon on a day when there was a bit of an exercise awareness event taking place outside. Not deterred by the loud music and shouty people we entered into the large and spacious building. There is certainly an American feel to the venue with the centre of the room dominated by a soft drink refill station surrounded by large tables and seating.
Step up to the counter and you are faced with the first of many decisions. MOD offer a menu of pizzas to choose from which are tried and tested. You are able to MODify these if you want, adding extra toppings or removing things you’re not so keen on. Alternatively you can go completely free style and, starting with their signature thin crust base, go crazy at the subway style counter; which is obviously what we both did.
Working our way along the counter into different sections, all of which are operated by a different staff member, it is conveyor belt production of the sort Henry Ford would be proud; except with more choice – perhaps too much. Things started well, sticking with a traditional tomato sauce base followed by cheese and some anchovies before steadily descending into mild panic and rash decisions.
By the end of the line I had created a pizza that I had given my name to, but little care or thought had gone into its creation. It disappeared into the oven and I took my seat with a pint of Punk IPA wondering what just happened; the look on my girlfriends face told me she had been through a similar experience.
We sat and chatted about the pitfalls of having too much choice and too little time and waited. Eventually my name was called and we went to pick up our food, except mine wasn’t quite ready it was just garlic bread. A few minutes later I shuffled up to receive my pizza. This vexed me slightly, and I cannot say that it was “superfast”. It was quick but not rapid.
The pizzas looked okay despite the haphazard tale of their conception. The quality of the toppings was good and the super thin crispy bases were just that. This meant that the slices held their shape well when handled and you could happily munch through them without dropping topping all over yourself. Despite some odd combinations the flavours were good and the crisp bases will certainly find some fans compared to the more traditional doughy styles.
I am not exactly MOD Pizza’s target audience and true to form I cannot say it was to my taste. The concept just doesn’t appeal to me and I question how authentic these pizzas really are; not very something tells me. It was quite loud in the restaurant and is a place to eat and leave as quickly as possible; that’s convenience food for you.
On the plus sides the pizzas are pretty good with a wide selection of toppings which are far better quality than other big brand pizza restaurants. They are also really great value with every regular sized pizza costing just £7.47 irrespective of toppings; you can have everything if you want and some people have. It is perfect for families with picky eaters as they can choose what they want; plus you get some peace of mind knowing it is all cooked to order in front of you. MOD pizza fits in well with the other restaurants at the Marina and some people will be big fans I am sure.
1 The Boardwalk, Brighton Marina, BN2 5ZB
Monday to Sunday 11am to 11pm
This review first appeared in the Brighton and Hove Independent and I was invited to review by the restaurant.