PIZZA is one of those great culinary classics which has suffered badly at the hands of modern culinary perception. Once a gloriously simple marriage of sweet, intensely flavoured tomatoes, finest Italian cheeses and one or two harmonious toppings it has, over the passage of time, been utterly lost in translation, culminating in the modern-day monstrosities adorned with chicken tikka, sweetcorn, pineapple, kebab meat and other assorted misplaced atrocities. I remember the late, lamented Keith Floyd once describing its current evolvement as akin to a culinary dustbin, and these days it’s got to the stage where it’s virtually impossible to track down the real thing.

Until now. For deep in the heart of the Black Country, a revolution is stirring.

Ronnie’s Wood-Fired Pizza – a new venture which opened its welcoming doors on Stourbridge High Street just before Christmas – is taking this timeless Mediterranean gem back to its rightful status.

You won’t find Hawaiian, Texas BBQ or any of the other fast food abominations on Ronnie’s menu, but genuine Italian classics just like mama used to make (and, tucked away in humble home kitchens in downtown Naples, probably still does).

The brainchild of chef Dave McMahon, Ronnie’s success lies in keeping it simple, fresh and authentic. Start with the traditional margherita – dough made with proper Italian Caputo flour and left to prove for four days, then topped with finest Neapolitan San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella and smoked scamorza cheeses - and take it from there.

Try out the sublime Ronnie’s Original, which merely adds home-made pork meatballs (using locally sourced meat, of course) and pickled Spanish chillies; or the Smoke Steak Melt, with local ground beef and piquante peppers; or vegetarian special The Garden, with courgettes, oven-dried tomatoes and red peppers; add a simple side salad of rocket and pine nuts dressed with olive oil and lemon juice, and you’re in heaven.

Having cut his teeth training as a chef in restaurants the length and breadth of Italy, Dave knows exactly what he’s doing, with a reverential respect for just how pizza should be. Carefully chosen, top quality ingredients blasted in a 400-degree wood-fired pizza oven. It’s simple, it’s authentic and you certainly won’t go finding an amalgam of inappropriate junk like Chinese chicken, processed packet ham or, my greatest personal bugbear, swollen crusts stuffed with God knows whatever this week’s fad happens to be.

Fully licensed, Ronnie’s also offers cold beers and wine, plus home-made cheesecake and gelato to round off the experience.

It’s pizza like pizza should be. And all the greater for it.

Ronnie’s Wood-Fired Pizza is open from noon until the dough runs out (usually about 9.30pm) on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and from 6pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. To book (and you’ll need to, as word is spreading like wildfire) call 01384 375700 or 07929 646009, or for more information, visit the Ronnie’s Wood-Fired Pizza Facebook page.

Pete Wallace