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London’s best pizzerias.
When I worked in Gresham Street we sometimes used to go out for a pizza. Alas, the only pizza within distance was from Pizza Hut – which while edible and even tasty bore little relation to the authentic Italian dish.
Fortunately, lovers of real pizza have better choices these days – even for a takeaway lunch, at least if you’re in Soho where both Malletti and Princi offer pizza al taglio – cooked in huge sheets and cut off to order. Delicious!
Malletti in Noel Street offers the classics but also interesting specialities like leek, potato & rosemary (very much a Tuscan tradition not Neapolitan) or salami with fresh chilli, both eat-in and take-out at under £4 a slice.
Princi has stuffed and topped foccaccias too and pizza al taglio including a favourite of mine, blue cheese topped pizza – but the pizza base is a doughy, chewy foccaccia style rather than a crisp Neapolitan crust, so purists might give this one a miss.
In Brixton market, Franco Manca keeps prices down by offering a simple menu of only six pizzas, and only lunchtime and afternoons – no evening service – but they are all made from top quality ingredients. Gloucester Old Spot ham and organic mozzarella from Somerset, rub up against real Italian tomatoes. Franco Manca has now opened a branch to the west and east, in Chiswick and Westfield Stratford respectively, but the atmosphere of the original is still something special. Various Neopolitan friends in London have told me it’s the best they’ve tasted here – high praise indeed.
For something a bit more unusual, Rocket in Mayfair has some intriguing taste combinations. For instance what about smoked black pudding, prawns and pancetta? Gruesome or spectacular? – you decide! Chorizo and pumpkin, or bacon and oyster mushrooms, seem less challenging to the taste buds but equally untraditional (“Hey chorizo is Spanish” I hear the purists shout! Mind you, what they would have made of the hoisin duck and goat’s cheese pizza I once enjoyed at Gourmet Pizza I do not know!).
Returning to the classics, Santoré on Exmouth market offers them ‘by the metre’ as does Pizza Metro in Battersea. Both of these have their fans – and pizza by the metre can be fun when you have a group of friends, though not on your own and perhaps not just for two.
Of course pizza isn’t the exclusive property of Neapolitans and two London pizzerie are busy proving it. Pixxa on the Move in Farringdon does it Roman style, thin and crunchy – it’s meant to go ‘crack!’ when you bite it – with takeaway and fast eat-in options at lunchtime. Meanwhile Due Sardi in Shoreditch shows the Sardinian take on pizza with ingredients like Sardinian sausage and pecorino cheese and good simple cooking. Oh yes, you can get bottarga (fish roe) too.
Finally, L’Artista in Golders Green nestled under the railway bridge is an old favourite of mine – as much for the ambience as the fresh and simple classic pizzas. The noisy atmosphere (particularly when there’s a birthday to celebrate) instantly transports you to southern Italy.
If you’re looking for more refined Italian dining, there’s an excellent hotel restaurant which oozes Italian charm and quality at Brunello in The Baglioni Kensington (we recently also sampled their cocktails).
Or if none of the above recommendations gives you what you need, you could always just hop on a plane and go to Rome!