This vast new 130-seater pizzeria below the Everyman Cinema proposes to be a take on a classic Neapolitan joint. It’s from the team behind admired music-bar Spiritland – although, in fact, it’s more democratic, with an emphasis on good value.
In its brightly lit space, with open kitchen and central bar, crammed full of twentysomethings on our visit, you can work your way through the short crowd-pleasing menu of authentic pizza, made using a 72-hour dough ferment (meaning a lighter, fluffier and easier-to-digest crust), alongside antipasti, gelato and dolci.
The key thing here really is price: it’s very good value for the neighbourhood, with pizzas priced between £5-10, and even a negroni is just £6.50. At lunchtime, a soft drink with a slice is only a fiver.
Some tips? Well, a Rucola came loaded generously with tasty prosciutto crudo, while a superior Parmigiano was topped with meaty chargrilled aubergine hunks, stretchy mozzarella and sweet basil. Courgette fries were skinny and demolished in seconds, and wine a handy £4.50 a glass. Only a green salad (at £5) proved underwhelming, a jumble of leaves and sliced cucumber: that should be rethought.
In short, Happy Face is a benign-spirited, fun (and let’s not forget, functional) answer to the pricier options around Granary Square and Coal Drops Yard; greater than the sum of its parts, perhaps.
Best of all now we’re at the end of #dryanuary? Downstairs is retro-inspired late-night subterranean cocktail haven Supermax, “a celebration of Italian discotheques” with fully-loaded Spiritland-curated jukebox: expect everything from slow tempo funk to forgotten Europop to carry on boozing late into the night.
By which time, we imagine, you’ll undoubtedly be racing back upstairs for more pizza.