Little Forest Restaurant Blackrock – The Review – By Alex Casablancas
By now, most Dublin pizza connoisseurs will know of Little Forest for it’s heavenly pies – mastered by Reggie White (former pizza chef at Pi) who teamed up with Shane Windrim (also from the kitchen at Pi) to open up in Blackrock under the auspices of John and Sandy Wyer.
The whole business started during the pandemic, and thus operated on a click and collect basis offering few but seriously good Neapolitan-style pizzas from which to choose from (think of the OG Fior di latte and tomato but also wild yet superb creations like their creamed corn and Nduja). All pizza bases are made with a sourdough starter which originated in Scéal Bakery.
Restrictions loosening, the venue opened up for sit in dining so – excited to be able to experience our go-to dough straight out of the oven – we immediately booked ourselves in for a mid week meal.
Due to the 8pm curfew at the time, we were notified that they would only be serving a 7 course menu in order to properly accommodate all tables during the dinner service.
Forest Avenue quality standards topped off by pizza of gods, yes please.
The evening started off at 6pm – when all tables were seated at the same time and drink orders were very efficiently taken. We were also asked to choose the pizza we would be having at the end of the menu. Initially torn between all 6 available options, we opted for the Nduja, Ricotta and Honey.
To start – Carlingford oysters with tomato vinegar and olive oil. The eye-catching pop of red and green were just an announcement of the flavour that was to come out of it. The acidity of the vinegar paired perfectly with the fragrant oyster and the phenomenal olive oil that wrapped it all up.
A perfect little start to get the palate going!
We continued with bite size portion Arancini. Reminisce to Southern Italy, these deep-fried spheres of rice surrounding a heart of butter and Caciocavallo cheese. Crunchy, oozy, salty amazeballs – it had it all.
Next – Focaccia. Undoubtedly a first taster of all things dough that were yet to come to the table. The best part of this bubbly bread is that one can be as basic or creative as you like. For Little Forest however, simplicity is paramount for this dish and the two slices we got needed no additional toppings – perfectly baked, the dough was airy in the center and had a nice crunch on the outside. These slices were best friends with the side house ricotta dip and additional pesto alla trapanese. We could have had a full meal portion worth of this dunkable delight.
As a fresh in-betweener, we were served crab, whipped bottarga, warm potato and radish. The mild sweetness of crab, salty and smoky fish roe paired with the gentle bitterness of radish and the substance of the spuds, was a combination that we inhaled in a couple of spoonfuls.
Moving on – wood fired thin garlic bread and served, to my surprise, with a very Barcelona inspired sider of a salty and a pickled anchovy (or boquerón) and since my childhood also known to me as “matrimonio”. A bite of fish followed by a mouthful of warm garlicky sourdough goodness – all we needed here was some sunshine and a glass of sparkling Catalan wine.
A umami bomb was next on the list – charred leek, brown butter, hazelnuts, speck trentino and baby girolle mushrooms.
The glory of charred leeks for me is always the contrast between their deeply charred exteriors and jammy, sweet interiors. This was done perfectly and was just elevated with the richness of the browned butter, ham and the additional texture of the nuts.
It all led up to pizza though. We could feel it coming somehow.
We had devoured them to go on other occasions – either directly from its take away box while driving back home or sitting by the seafront in Blackrock. There was something very special though about finally being able to enjoy it at their table.
Without wanting to sound cliché and repetitive, this really is a pizza that has nothing to hide, it is all about the quality of the 48-hour fermented, leavened dough – that Reggie has perfected over the years – the cooking, and the few ingredients on top.
The nduja and ricotta were still sizzling when it got to us and the familiar “leoparding” on the crust from the scorching heat of the oven made it all a thing of beauty.
The first bite really did remind us how good this dough is and one would go out of their way to drop by Little Forest for it. Pillowy and chewy yet not too thick and with a slight crunch on the side, altogether managing to support the heavier toppings.
The spicy hit from the nduja was well balanced with the smoothness and thick texture of the ricotta, which I personally found to be a good mozzarella alternative for once. The light hint of honey, which is usually quite overpowering at other pizza venues where the ingredient has become increasingly popular over the last few years, was in perfect measure and brought the whole mouthful together very nicely.
A decadent sweet finale of bread pudding, zabaglione and sherry prunes was served just before 8 pm. Reminiscent of a boozy Christmas dessert, it was also surprisingly light and a perfect spoonful portion for those of us who just need a soupçon of sugar after dinner.
We really enjoyed the texture and balance of the few ingredients – perfectly moist and warm with just the right amount of prunes in the center that burst through when digging in.
We are excited to get back to dining out and experiencing the very best of what Ireland has to offer. Little Forest encapsulates the very essence of what food is about – locally sourced produce cooked to put a smile on your face. There are no guarantees that this ideal tasting menu will remain as restrictions are lifted but do make sure you get over to Blackrock to try their pizza – it will most likely be the highlight of your day.
Review written by Alex Casablancas
Little Forest Restaurant,
57 Main Street,
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