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Award winning Cardiff-based pizzeria has opened bold new concept restaurant ‘Dark’

The team behind an award-winning Cardiff pizzeria opened a brand-new restaurant in the city centre on Wednesday 11th December.

Dusty Knuckle is one of Cardiff’s biggest pop-up-to-permanent success stories. Having started life selling pizza from a homemade oven at local markets in 2014, the award-winning outfit has gone from strength to strength. With permanent sites in Cardiff and Pembrokeshire, the portfolio also includes a pitch at Ogmore-By-Sea, a pop-up element which caters for festivals, and an ongoing refurbishment project in a former park warden’s house (opening early 2020).

But despite having made a name for serving some of the best pizza in the South, Dusty Knuckle’s new restaurant ‘DARK’ will take the brand in a new direction, inviting customers to ‘discover their dark side’. 

The Dusty Knuckle DARK side

Based in one of Cardiff’s historic Victorian arcades, DARK – a compact 30 cover restaurant – will nod to Dusty Knuckle’s roots by including a few new pizzas on the menu, but the focus will be on bolder choices and experimental flavours with a ‘nose to tail’ ethos playing a big part.

Though the new restaurant represents a different direction for the team, DARK will continue the brand’s long-standing commitment to sustainability, and will source almost exclusively from local, independent, and high-welfare suppliers. As a result, the menu is likely to change regularly, led by what’s available seasonally and what trusted suppliers recommend. 

Dusty Knuckle founders Phil & Deb Lewis

Dishes on the menu range from flatbreads and kebabs, to pizzas and small plates. 

For opening week, the brunch options includes flat iron steak with eggs and fermented ketchup; and cockles, bacon and laverbread scrambled eggs; whilst the kebab menu will include lamb offal kebabs with pickled pinks, yoghurt, fermented oil and parsley; through to tempura cauliflower with sesame, aioli and house-recipe slaw.

Small plates will include chicken curry doughnuts; and lamb shoulder with laverbread and pickled cockles; and there will be a small dessert menu on offer, too. A pared-down ‘on the go’ menu of £5 kebabs will also be served from the hatch at the side of the premises at 42 Castle Arcade, continuing a tradition that was brought in by the former owners, Café Minuet, more than 40 years ago.

DARK opened on the 11th December and will be open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

More than just pizza

The announcement of Dusty Knuckle’s new DARK restaurant builds on a wave of successful side-projects for serial entrepreneurs Phill & Debs Lewis; they are also co-owners of local, high-end burger pop-up Hoof, and of Cardiff’s newest small-plates rand natural wine restaurant, Nook.

In 2018 Phill Lewis also founded Cardiff’s first ever independent restaurant festival, Bite Cardiff, which attracted almost 10,000 people to the grounds of a city centre mansion, where 25 local chefs sold a single dish each for just £3 each. In 2019, Bite Cardiff grew to 15,000 people and 30 chefs; plans for the 2020 event are already under way.

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