Atomic Pizza: A retro throwback in Cowley

Hungry and looking forward to some delicious burgers and pizza, we stumbled into Atomic Pizza (Atomic Burger’s sister diner) on Cowley Road, and found ourselves in a den of retro movie paraphernalia. Colourful 3D Star Wars, Pulp Fiction, and Spider-Man decorations jumped out at us, whilst blasts from the past from the likes of Mambo Number 5 to the Backstreet Boys were emitting from the wall speaker.

The burgers and pizzas on the menu are named after pop culture classics, like The Audrey Hepburn, Chuck Norris, or McLovin burger. And with so many pizza and burger toppings to choose from, we didn’t struggle to find something we liked.

I perused the menu and selected The Messy Jessie burger and Alan Rickman pizza (with added pepperoni). Surrounded by Toy Story figurines, and a life-sized Spider-Man hanging from the ceiling above my head, I felt like I was in some fantastical cartoon American diner like Krusty Burger.

Now, I have to admit, I had come to Atomic Burger many a year ago, and remember the burgers fondly as being pretty damn delicious. I excitedly ordered my beef burger with a medium rare patty and awaited with baited breath. Unfortunately, while the burger was delicious, the beef patty was slightly subpar compared to what I had remembered. My patty was on the well-done side of medium; a bit tough, and with that minced-sausage like taste one wants to avoid when eating a gourmet burger. Nonetheless, the fillings of goat’s cheese, red onion marmalade, and rocket complemented each other perfectly. The bun was soft, and whilst I personally do love a brioche bun with my burgers, I couldn’t really fault this choice of bread. And although the beef patty wasn’t up to its usual high standard today, the Atomic restaurants must be commended on providing the option of something other than a well-done beef patty.

We found ourselves in a den of retro movie paraphernalia

Having focused my anticipation on the burger without much thought for the pizza, the pizza itself was actually quite impressive. A nice flavour mix of pepperoni, goat’s cheese (if you haven’t already noticed, I’m a huge fan of goat’s cheese), mushrooms, and rocket. The thin crust was soft, but not soggy or too oily as some diner pizzas can be.

The sweet potato fries, which I had with a side of garlic mayo (props to having flavoured mayo available – plain mayo is simply an inferior condiment), were quite excellent. They were the perfect combination of crispy and soft.

And finally, the vanilla milkshake was perfectly thick, smooth and creamy, with a hint of vanilla, meeting the criteria for bringing all the boys to the yard.

I was too full at the end for dessert. But next time I’ll be back to try the Popcorn Sundae. With sweet sticky butterkist sundae, stacked with vanilla ice cream, salted caramel, cream and popcorn, this sounded too good, but perhaps best saved for an isolated visit when I’m not full of burgers and pizzas.

Verdict: Atomic Burger/Pizza are still some of the best joints in Oxford for a burger. Their diners serve up a fun evening out with a great throwback playlist, funky decor, and a playful range of burger, pizza, and dessert options on the menu.