Eating at Leipzig’s Pizza LAB on event night is a bit like going to a house party with too many hungry friends filing into the living room, and heading for the kitchen counter.
It’s cozy and chaotic and the pizza has never tasted better, because it’s really homemade and fresh… and maybe you had to wait for an hour, so you’re extra hungry.
The average house party, after all, doesn’t have an industrial oven or massive staff. It’s just your friends and friends of friends. It’s not so efficient, but makes up for it in authenticity. Fun, fallible and memorable, rather than generic.
Hence it’s Pizza LAB, not “pizza factory.”
On evenings when there are no special events happening, the pizzas come out a lot faster, of course. They’re vegan and can also be gluten-free upon request.
The simplicity of the ingredients and the amount of flavor you get from them will impress you. Even when the wait is shorter and the hole in your stomach small enough to be objective.
You can always choose the size, and often also the ingredients. Sometimes, though, the only option is “surprise pizza.”
The Lindenau restaurant used to be a commercial venture, but is now non profit, with its original owner having donated recipes and furniture, and transferred his know-how and files. It has been open for less than a year in its present form, and relies on unpaid volunteers.
It’s actually refreshing to see awkward smiles and nervous young faces and steps rushing from cashier to kitchen to tables, and over to the back where the evening’s event is taking place. It’s hard to get mad at them even if they somehow mix up your order and the evening’s count.
You lust after the wooden slabs with the steaming veggie pizza pies they’ve got in tow, following them with your eyes.
One by one, the pies pop out of the kitchen, and someone cuts them into convenient slices. You hope this time it’s yours, that they’ll call out your name.
And then, they do.
Hopefully the place will never be absorbed by some chain and its standardized inner life.
Right now, the community project is quintessentially Leipzig, in its spirit of improvisation, sharing, spontaneity and reliance on crowd-sourcing.
Pizza LAB is constantly accepting new help, whatever you can chip in with, and even trains volunteers on the spot. The restaurant also has a fund where patrons can leave some spare change so that people with emptier pockets can also share in the joy of eating there. Strangers often sit at the same tables, and lounge next to each other in the comfortable cushions.
Events on site include live music, open mics, “diary slams,” game-playing and drawing nights, and even local art markets. There are also vegan brunches which, according to the word on the street, will not disappoint meat-eaters.
Georg-Schwarz-Str. 10, 04177 Leipzig
Open Tues-Fri, 6-10 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Closed on Mondays.
Feature photo: Pizza LAB interior. Taken by Tayyibe Armagan.