pizza. undo-er of diets. saviour of break-ups. fuel of life. is there a single situation in this life where pizza would be out of place? nope; i agree. and if i was to sit and think slightly harder than i normally think about stuff, i'd probbbably have to say that pizza is my favourite food. it certainly has had a sort of revival in my opinion, especially since returning from italy (the first time), because that was some of the greatest pizza i'd ever had. in my entire life.
now i suppose i'm on a mission to eat more of it. and on a mission to find pizza as great as the pizza we ate in naples. i take this shit seriously, so i'm doing my homework. lucky for me, it was no work at all. and, i reckon i've discovered some of london's tastiest pizza places. wanna know where? read on.
the honest italian
13 station parade
balham high road, sw12 9az
i headed over after work on a cold, cold winter's night with nick - my friend from work. we walked into a pretty empty restaurant, but it was warm - oh my, it was warm, and we sat and perused the menu despite the fact we had both been doing it all day and knew what we want already. that, and, nick is as predictable as taxes, and always gets the mushroom pizza. me, i usually go for a margherita because i'm forever trying to find that tasty replica of true italian indulgence, but not this time. this time i went for the house special; the honest italian (£12.50), which read like a margherita... but with prawns! my favourite!
according to john the manager, their house pizza also had blue cheese hiding within, and i loved the sound of that, so it was on. and did not regret it, because i managed to devour the entire 12" dish before i'd finished my first glass of wine. whether because starving or because delicious, it doesn't matter; the dough was soft, the sauce was flavoursome, and the mozzarella was perfectly stretchy. the prawns were a clever addition to an already tasty dish. 100% would eat again.
bonus reason: the antipasti sharing platter (£11.50) had some of the tastiest buffalo mozzarella that i've ever tried on it, and paired with the sundried tomatoes and crispy sourdough bread was an absolute godsend when i'd been starving myself all day in preparation for the impending pizza. do yourself a favour, and spoil your dinner by having that first. maybe you'll be like me and eat both with no worries. ooooh, i love a challenge, me.
tank and paddle
minster court, 3 mincing lane
london ec3r 7aa
ahh, the city of london. how you frighten me so with all of your back roads and murderous alleys! still, when there's pizza to be had, you make certain sacrifices. maybe just don't watch a lot of luther before you head into the city fork food. but! tank and paddle is a really new bar concept that supposedly does two things really well: beer and pizza. i'm in! charley and i have a mutual love for both, so were keen to check it out. and it was a monday, and on mondays, all pizzas are only a fiver! (on wednesdays, a pizza and a pint is a tenner. wednesdays have always been my fave.)
these pizza "paddles" - get it? - are not your standard pizza look. long and thin, and a bit too crispy for my personal taste (i like mine fluffy and shit), but with some clever names and topping pairings to keep things interesting. i went for the veggie option - veg your bets (£7 usually) with sun dried tommies, olives (green, ew, i didn't know), mushroom and artichokes, while charley chose the *other* veggie option, the billy goat's stuffed (£7 usually) with red onion chutney, goat's cheese and spinach. yum! neither of us managed to finish our paddles, so that's evidence that they're pretty big deals! that, or.. we were full from our starters and saving room for our afters..?
bonus reason: the mac and cheese is the shiiiiiit. seriously, we had the mac attack (£7) with pulled pork and bbq cooked in it, and hooooly smokes, that was utterly delicious. more flavour in that than was on my pizza, for sure, so i 100% recommend getting some mac and cheese in when you go, and if you can fit it in, the dough balls (£4) for afters. dripping in maple and cinnamon, and filled with nutella, they are literally the reason i am going to get super fat and resemble a dough ball.
baz & fred
at a food market near you!
i first visited baz & fred at flat iron at bankside in like, october, then went again in like, december, and have since made plans to go back again in like, as soon as i get paid. reason? zomg the most incredible street-food pizza i have ever had. what's so great about it? pizza takes ages to cook usually, right? not anymore! b&f have these insane portable ovens called "chadwick ovens" that bakes a pizza in four whole minutes, and cooks the perfect combo of crispy outside, fluffy inside, and not-burnt ingredients. flippen ay! four minute pizza is pizza from heaven!
the guys (who are utter babes and also really nice) behind the pizza also have created a genius menu. from a chorizo and chilli (secret b&f chilli oil too), to nduja sausage, a proscuitto with mixed mushrooms and butter, and a courgette and goats cheese recipe that will have you converting to vegetarianism as soon as possible, literally everything you could ever want on a pizza is there. i don't remember the price, but come on, it's street food, and yours in four minutes. take a punt, you won't be sorry.
bonus reason: omgggg their dough balls and garlic butter are something designed by the gods. like, as if the pizza dough with all the tasty toppings wasn't good enough, but that wonderful, homemade dough dipped in garlic butter? just stop. well no, don't stop, but staaaahp.
the alphabeta building
worship st, ec2a 2ab
you might remember that time i wrote about pizza buzz last year. yeah, well when i was thinking about all the great pizza places that no-one's really heard of, this place was top of the list. mainly because, you know, make your own pizza is a genius idea, and you will essentially get what you want each and every time, and have no-one to blame but yourself if you don't like the result. what a clever concept: the customer is always right, and if they're not, you're still not wrong! ha!
i experiemented with mine last time, and added a few raaaandom things. but, it turned out really well and i was totally happy with the outcome! again there were prawns, and i love prawns, and there was chilli oil and three kinds of cheese, and really, what more do you want from me? the price all depends on what you have on your pizza, obviously, but the basic pizza will set you back about a fiver. pretty good deal for a central london dinner, i'd say!
bonus reason: the location is pretty sweeeeet, plus they have one of those awesome drinks machines where you can mix up to like, 100 flavours of soda. i really enjoy a soda machine, ha. they also do take away, which could be awesome for lunch on a nice day, i reckon.
leicester square, wc2h 7le
this might seem like a bit of a weird one, especially when you consider a) chiquito is a mexican joint, and b) it's technically a flatbread, but it's just crazy enough that i reckon it needs to go on the list. mainly because when i ordered it, i thought it was a fajita. mainly because it was called "chicken fajita flatbread", which kind of confused things a little. but, despite the mixed messaging, it was bloody tasty. big old chunks of spiced chicken topped a fluffy and oven-baked bread, with strips of colourful peppers and onions to boot. so basically, a chicken fajita... pizza (£7.95).
bonus reason: sombreros! and all the things you love about your other favourite type of cuisine: margaritas, tacos, and heaps and heaps of guacamole! i mean, if that's not reason enough, then how are we even friends.
so, there we have it. five pizza places in london worth checking out if you're as much of a pizza fiend as i am. i know we all have our favourites, and i certainly can't criticise franco manca, pizza union, or homeslice as creators of some of the capital's most delicious pizzas, but.. isn't it nice to try some of those less well known places from time to time? so tell me: which are you going to try first?
*all meals were complimentary, all views are mine*