Review: Why people are going wild for Sunderland's Wild Fire pizzas at Ship Isis
As one of Sunderland’s most popular historic boozers, Ship Isis has long been a haven for real ale fans.
Now, its food offering is also drawing people through its Victorian stone doorway after it teamed up with lockdown success story Wild Fire Pizza.
In the dark days of the pandemic when going to the pub seemed like a distant memory, Wild Fire provided a glimmer of normality by slinging pizzas for pop-up weekends on the terrace at the former Holmeside Coffee at the Winter Gardens.
Owner Josh Wild’s talent for perfecting the distinctive base of an authentic Neapolitan pizza soon won him a loyal following which allowed him to grow from hand-stretching pizzas for friends and family to launching his own business.
As pubs and restaurants began to open their doors once more, he teamed up with Joe Collins of The Little Shop to make Wild Fire a permanent feature in the city.
And the historic surroundings of Ship Isis, popular for its quality yet laid-back offering, has proved the perfect home.
Pizzas fly out of the pass fast here and can sell out at peak times – once the dough’s gone, it’s gone.
You can get your Wild Fire fix Wednesdays to Sundays on a walk-in basis. We visited on a Friday night and were able to enjoy our meal in the new outdoor area created in Lockdown on one of the last warm(ish) nights of the summer.
Prepared in the specialist pizza oven from a 48-hour ferment, there’s six regular options, the Wild Fire 2.0, White Bronco, ODB, OG (veggie), Fresh Prince (veggie) and The Blueprint (vegan), which are really fairly priced at £7 – £10.
They’re made to order, one at a time, so you’ll need to be patient at peak times. But it’s certainly worth the wait for some of the best pizzas being slung in Sunderland at the minute.
You order at the bar and we went for the namesake Wild Fire and a White Bronco. Bases are so good here, with just the right balance of bubble and bite, that you hardly need the toppings – but the toppings certainly hold their own too.
The Wild Fire comes with plenty of San Marzano plum tomato, Fior Di Latte cheese, punchy nduja sausage from Block & Bottle in Newcastle, Napoli salami from the excellent Fat Unicorn at Mackie’s Corner, chillies for even more kick and B-sting Hot Honey. It’s a moreish medley of flavours that will have you loosening your belt buckle to fit more in.
Despite being common in Italy, you don’t see many white pizzas on menus in the city, but this one is a perfect example of the delicacy – laden with
crème fraîche, fior di latte, smoked bacon bits, mushrooms, black pepper, garlic and parmesan.
There’s also specials, sides and dips to tuck into. Make sure to try the JFC (£6.50) served with sriracha or garlic mayo, which are more than just finger-licking good.
*Wild Fire Pizza at Ship Isis, Silksworth Row, is served Wednesdays and Thursdays 5pm-9pm, Friday 3pm -9pm, Saturday 2pm-9pm and Sundays 1pm-5pm. There is also a take away option, subject to availability.
*Since we visited, new additions have been made to the menu. Check them out on the Wild Fire Instagram page: @wild_firepizza