If the steady stream of riders arriving to fill their insulated bags with wings and pizza for Friday night’s takeaway crew is anything to believe, Vice has gotten off to a great start. Barely open a month if we line up for the in-person experience, the wing and pizza restaurant occupies a former Subway outlet on the Merrion Street stretch north of the plaza, a few doors down from Sweny’s Pharmacy, where Leopold Bloom bought his lemon soap and just a short walk from Leinster House.
It’s a sleek-looking establishment with a distinctive industrial aesthetic (co-owner Bobby Lawn later tells me that designer Jordan Ralph aimed for a Scandi-factory chic look), and it’s clear that absolutely nothing about the decor and branding is accidental is the menu projected on the bare wall (great idea) to the signature soft orange covers on the stools at our window table.
In the open plan kitchen at the back of the ground floor we can see a humdinger of an electric Pizza Master oven (not far away, the Bambino Slice shop has one of these too) and the kitchen team at work.
There is a large room downstairs that was unoccupied on the night of our visit – we called several times during the day to see if we needed to book but no one picked up the phone – but it looks like it’s for a group would work well.
I would come back and throw myself into a bowl of wings alone if I could guarantee I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew
Lawn, a familiar face from restaurants across the city including Etto, The Old Spot and Osteria Lucio, tells me he got the idea for Vice from a selection of wings and pizza that his Buffalo, New York aunt bought a visit for him some years ago. While the pairing is new — correct me if I’m wrong — in Ireland, upstate New York, it’s a favorite in casual restaurants and sports bars.
The big plus for me here is that the chicken is free range. Lawn later tells me that he and his business partner, Cian Gavin, never even considered using anything else. Good for you.
A small portion (10) of Korean gochujang wings are rapidly disappearing. They’re delicious – crispy, flavorful without being overly spicy, messy but not overly greasy. The recommended dill buttermilk ranch dressing works well as a foil.
For his medium-hot Buffalo tenders — there are five in a medium serving — Vice dredges the chicken in seasoned flour before frying; The spiciness is just right, the classic blue cheese a winner. They are naturally a bit drier than the wings, but the flavor is excellent. I would come back and throw myself into a bowl of wings alone if I could guarantee I wouldn’t run into anyone I knew.
There are 12 pizzas on offer – nine with tomato sauce and three white. The toppings and permutations make a good read, with organic mozzarella and Toons Bridge Fior di Latte alongside the usual pepperoni, salami and spicy Italian sausage, along with some (erm) controversial options, more on that later.
One of Vice’s USPs is the option to choose a crust finish — white or black sesame, poppy seed, or “all bagel.” It’s a novel touch but leaves the table covered in seeds. The pizzas are a mix of New York-style and Neapolitan-style. The White Vice consists of broccoli rabe, Italian sausage, mozzarella, Calabrian chili and shaved caciocavallo, while the Forest Pie features chestnut and hen-of-the-wood mushrooms, Mozzarella, ricotta, Grana Padano, garlic, sea salt and cracked pepper and lemon zest.
Despite those cracking ingredient lists, no pizza has much flavor. I think it could be due to something so simple that someone forgot to put the salt in the batter that day because there is no other explanation for it. The crust dips—salsa verde garlic parmesan stands out—help.
Roll the Vice — the only tomato pizza in our order — is topped with chili-infused pineapple, pickled jalapeno, pickled red onion, mozzarella, fior di latte, fresh chili, and salsa verde. I’m firmly in the “pineapple on pizza is an abomination” camp, but this sounded too interesting to pass up. And while I wouldn’t say I’m a convert, it’s good to see a fresh attitude.
With a bottle of Pinot Nero Ca’ di Alte – 12.5% ABV and at a pocket-friendly price of €28 – and a Diet Coke, our bill (including tip for great service) for three people is €130. We bring home a full box of pizza, proof that we ordered too much. Lawn and Gavin hope to introduce Vice to other locations over time, but for now, make your way to Merrion Street to find your fix.
The marinara pizza (without cheese) is €10.
A large bowl of wings plus two of the more expensive crust pizzas and dips is €51 before drinks or service.
Vice, 5 Merrion Street Lower, Dublin 2, @vicedublin
https://www.independent.ie/life/food-drink/food-reviews/vice-pizza-and-wings-shop-review-im-firmly-in-the-pineapple-on-pizza-is-an-abomination-camp-but-this-one-sounded-too-interesting-to-pass-by-42062514.html Vice Pizza & Wings Shop Review: “I’m firmly in the camp of ‘pineapple on pizza is an abomination’ but this one sounded too interesting to pass up.”