Cast your mind back to 2010, I know it’s a long time ago, but it’s worth it. We had a roller coaster year in terms of news, including the: Icelandic Volcano that grounded all flights, Prince Charles and his vandalised car but most importantly, Santa Maria was born. London was crying out for a proper pizza place, somewhere that was cheap, had the potential to be messy but left you feeling like you’d flown to Naples and back. Eight years later and we now have an abundance of pizza places claiming to serve up the best pizza outside of Northern Italy. Most fail, but some succeed because they have mastered the fine art of making pizza. They have realised that some tinned tomato sauce and processed cheese on dough does not make a pizza. Okay in the literal sense it does, but you get what I mean. What we have then, is a list of places that in my opinion serve up the best pies in city (I had to pay homage to New York somehow, it’s where my love affair with pizza began).
The Big One – Homeslice
Let’s start with biggest first because, well, size matters. Homeslice is where you go when you’re seriously hungry because the pizzas here are 20” in size. They also serve by the slice by why would you want just a slice? You could say they have perfected the art of downsizing a menu to the essentials: pizza and drinks. A small menu doesn’t mean boring, oh no, Homeslice has some of the most inventive toppings in the city and they also let you order half and half for when you can’t decide. I often find myself in this predicament (#firstworldproblems) and so go half margherita and half mushroom, ricotta, pumpkin seed and chilli. You wouldn’t think it, but a pizza that only half tomato sauce on half really does work.
The Cheap One – Pizza Union
Pizza Union is a thing of beauty because they serve good quality pizza really cheap. I feel like I could stop there with my review and that would suffice because who doesn’t want a 12” pizza for £3.95? The atmosphere is really relaxed where you walk in and sit wherever you can find a spot before ordering at the counter and then going back up when your buzzer goes off. The pizza is thin and crispy and they do not hold back on the toppings or the cheese. Paired with the garlic dip, it is an absolute delight. I know this post is about pizza but I can’t talk about Pizza Union without mentioning the dessert. A baked pizza dough ring filled to the brim with Nutella and mascarpone. Eat plenty of pizza but please save room for this wonder.
The Fancy One – Harrys Dolce Vita
A combination of a location on Basil Street, large numbers of super cars outside and the gold door to get in, should tell you that this is a fancy place. If that doesn’t, one look at the interiors and the people dining there certainly will. Onto the pizza and the dough here is proved for 72 hours which gives it the perfect crust when you bite into it. A little resistance but you won’t be needing to pay your dentist a visit. For me it has to be the classic margherita topped with large chunks of fresh buffalo mozzarella that slowly melt as you work your way through the pizza. At £14, it is the cheapest of the six on the menu, but the most expensive on this list. I can’t imagine HDV becoming my regular go to anytime soon but it makes a pizza worthy of this list.
The Go To One – Pizza East
Pizza East is my go to one. I love the fact that even though they have the potential to expand everywhere (Franco Manca comes to mind), they have stuck to 3 locations and frankly good on them. We all know that expanding too much isn’t always a good thing. Whilst you’re here for the pizza, it’s hard to ignore the fantastic cheese offerings as well as the baked mac n cheese. The pizza on offer changes quite frequently but I always stick to the margherita. Yes, I know you think it’s boring, why would you have this when there are toppings like broccolini, aubergine and burrata on offer. The answer is because they do the basics so well and also because you’ll have an abundance of other food on the table. The pizza here has quite a big crust, but that’s no bad thing because you can dip it into a puddle of chilli oil and then momentarily cry as it burns your tongue but go in for another bite because it’s just that good.
The Best One – Santa Maria
Yes, I said it, this is the best pizza in London. Time Out agrees with me, you know, great minds and all that. The magic of this pizza is the in sauce, they use San Marzano tomatoes from Italy which gives it a hint of sweetness that I can’t seem to find anywhere else. The oven here heats up to 500 degrees and the pizza is only cooked for 40 seconds, crazy to think that a pizza can cook that fast but that’s how the Italians do it. Go for the San Rocco pizza, it’s loaded with aubergine for a slight sweetness, rocket for bitterness, grana Padano for saltiness and a whole ball of fresh burrata for the cheesiness. It starts out as a ball cut perfectly into 4 and ends up spread out over your pizza, remember at the start I said it could get messy. Watch the video below and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
I leave you with one of my favourite sayings ‘yesterday I really wanted pizza, today I am eating pizza. Follow your dreams people’.