The Fresser

Happy Faces all round

It may sit in postcode on its way up, but the food's worth visiting for


Have you heard of Brent Cross Town? Me neither.

I was invited pop down to the newest Happy Face Pizza restaurant there and had zero clue where to go. My local knowledge extends to Brent Cross Shopping Centre and the High Street — and maybe the tube station. After tapping it into my Waze, I was still was fairly clueless.

Turns out it was on the other side of the North Circular Road from the Shopping Centre and totally worth a visit Well, it will be in a few weeks’ time and even more so in a few years.

Currently opposite is a pretty, landscaped park (due to open in June) and children’s adventure playground, builders are in the early stages of constructing a small town of mixed retail and residential buildings plus green areas that will totally regenerate the area. A building housing show homes gives a taste of what’s to come.

Along the small row of shops facing this development is where the fressing happens. An old favourite and friend of the Fresser — Tami Isaacs has taken one unit for her second Karma Bread bakeries. Next door is Happy Face Pizza — love the name. Pizza always puts a huge smile on mine.

On the day I visited — on a Friday lunchtime — the sun was shining. Clitterhouse Playing Fields was in view and my al fresco table in front of the restaurant felt like a mini break. My date — a school mum mate — was similarly enchanted by our seat in the sun where we could gossip about our teens.

We ordered a bowl of zucchini fritti to share as an appetiser. The crisp strands of lightly battered courgette were up there with The Ivy’s version. They’d have gone nicely with one of the cocktails on Happy Face’s menu that include a few Italian classics — variations on Negronis plus a range of wines, lager, ale and non-alcoholic options.

Pizzas, cooked in their huge tiled oven are classic Neopolitan, lightly charred, chewy crust with thin base that flops under the weight of the topping. Toppings range from the classic Margherita to Melanzana (aubergine) and vegan pepperoni. It’s not kosher and there are a lot of traifey toppings, but the smiley staff — who could not have been nicer — are happy to chop and change to fit your spec.

My Sebastiano was satisfyingly savoury with anchovies, black olives, artichoke, mozzarella, lemon zest and parsley. Mum mate's Funghi had two cheeses — mozzarella and taleggio as well as the eponymous mushrooms plus artichokes. Both delicious. Two happy faces.

Dessert options were few but fabulous. Too doughed-up for the Nutella pizza, we shared light and creamy Tiramisu — which, for me, has never shaken its 1980’s dinner party vibe. Nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia. Lemon sorbet was zingy.

It may not be in the centre of the action, but Happy Face will be one day, and is already turning out fabulous food. Visit on a lovely day and pretend you’re on holiday; take it away if you’re local or polish it off in the park — when it opens. Or get it delivered. However you eat it you'll be smiling.

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