Derek Robertson, May 2018
Ah, the humble pizza. It’s come a long way since the first recorded use of the term in 10th century southern Italy.
Invented in Naples, it’s hard to beat a traditional, quality margherita pizza; tomato, fior de latte (cow’s milk mozzarella) and basil. Of course, all manner of toppings and crusts are now available – some good, some an abomination – but pizza, despite seemingly like a relatively straightforward things to make, is deceptively difficult to do really well. These are the ten places in London who pull it off.
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele
A Naples institution for over a hundred years, L’Antica makes what is widely regarded as best pizza in the world. Their London branch – only the third outside Naples – opened to huge fanfare and is the place for traditional pizza; there are only two options, the margherita and the marina, classics distilled to their purest form, cooked to perfection.
Purified seawater instead of salt is ‘O Ver’s secret weapon, making the dough fluffy and flavourful (and apparently more healthy). What started as a street stall in Naples now occupies a small space in Southwark, so do go early – it’s gets very crowded after 7pm. Their menu also stretches to other dishes and various street-food bites, all of which are equally delicious.
The term “pizza playground” might sound like some crazy, hipster marketing concept but this three-floor listed building pulls it off; sure, the various arcade and computer games on offer are fun, but the real star is the pizza – no surprise when the head chef has apparently been making them since he was 14.
This fast-food joint located in a former public toilet is more NYC than southern Italy; the giant, 20-inch pizza’s can be bought by the slice and have meatier, more innovative toppings (Fennel sausage with caramelized leeks). But at just £4 a slice they’re a steal, and the laid back vibe makes it the perfectly refueling stop for long nights out.
Ran by two New Yorkers, this place is a little slice of Brooklyn in the capital. The creations of Fabio Ferrarini – the UK’s number one pizza making champion no less – are available by the slice and have a distinct US flavour; think meatballs, pulled pork, and smoked Scamorza. For those with a sweet tooth, don’t miss the Nutella Fantasy – a dessert pizza with ice cream, custard, and coconut.
The original Neapolitan pizza place and still one of the best. It might be a chain now, but it’s popular for a reason; deliciously soft, doughy bases, lashings of the finest mozzarella, and fast, supper attentive service. Few places come close to giving such an authentic pizza experience on such a grand scale.
A Dalston institution that now has outposts in Peckham, Camden, and Shoreditch, Voodoo Rays make huge, 22-inch monsters that are available by the slice. They’re big on authenticity too; they import San Mazano tomatoes and use special Caputo flour for their bases, with most of the toppings a twist on a classic combination.
Brothers Salvatore and Matteo Aloe have been making pizzas in Bologna since 2010, and they now have two Radio Alice locations in the capital; Hoxton Square and Clapham. Their unique twist is that most of the ingredients are added after the base has been cooked, leaving flavours intact and giving their pizzas a different texture; go for the ‘nduja, or the speck, gorgonzola, honey and walnut.
If you want to be adventurous, then head to one of the three branches of Homeslice. Their classics are beyond reproach, but it’s far better to dive into their zany creations; oxtail, watercress and horseradish or goat shoulder, savoy cabbage, and sumac yoghurt are just two of the many options.
Made Of Dough
When culinary worlds collide, great things can happen. Two friends from Campania and Andalusia respectively set up a kiosk in Brixton to make delicious Neapolitan bases loaded with the tastes of southern Spain (they now have a full restaurant). Try the lamb merguez, or the white alba truffle, all sitting atop their glorious, 60-hour fermented dough.
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