I’m not sure I could ever pick just one favourite type of food but if I had to then pizza would definitely be a strong contender. I mean, I think everyone can agree that pizza is the best. Although I am, and always will be, the ultimate fan of a Domino’s and Netflix night in, I do also on occasion like to leave the house for my pizza and thankfully London provides many options for doing so.
If you’re looking for London’s answer to America’s Man vs. Food restaurants then Santorè is it: they serve metre long (1kg) Neapolitan pizzas (½ and ¾ metre pizzas are also available – as well as regular sized ones). These are the equivalent of four different pizzas baked together. I went in a group of four and was just about to finish off my quarter share.
I shared the Quattro Formaggi (tomato, mozzarella, gorgonzola and various cheeses) and Quattro Stagioni (tomato, mozzarella, ham, salami, artichokes & mushrooms) half of my pizza with one of my dinner companions, whilst the other two polished off the Margarita and Americana (tomato, mozzarella, salami, Parmesan & basil) half. It was really good pizza and we were served quickly by some friendly waiters but unusually the different toppings on the Quattro Stagioni were kinda separated into different slices – so most the mushrooms were all on one piece, as were the artichokes, ham and salami, which was fine but made it difficult for sharing. I missed out on the salami but, considering the fact a giant pizza is something I’ve only dreamed about, I dealt with it. Being able to take away a doggy bag with the leftovers also helped – I love cold pizza.
The Classic Sourdough
2. Franco Manca
Where: Balham, Battersea, Belsize Park, Bermondsey Street, Broadgate Circle, Brixton, Broadway Market, Chiswick, Covent Garden, Ealing, Earls Court, East Dulwich, Kilburn, Muswell Hill, Soho, South Kensington, Southfields, Stoke Newington, Tottenham Court Road, Westfield Stratford and Wimbledon
Franco Manca is famous for its sourdough pizzas, considered by many in London as the best in town. I made it to the East Dulwich branch and wasn’t surprised to find that I had to queue for to get in. I was more surprised that I didn’t have to queue for long. The menu was short and sweet and I quickly spotted a version of my staple ham and mushroom: Gloucester Old Spot ham and wild mushrooms in this case, with buffalo ricotta cheese (for the mere price of only £6.85). This pizza came with only a “little tomato” but the waitress offered me the option of more (75p), so I took it – after all, tomato is a key pizza ingredient in my book. I still didn’t get loads but my dinner was more than reasonably priced. I must admit, the ricotta cheese was a bit much for me and so, although very good, I’m not sure my pizza quite lived up to the hype for me but I realise that in saying that I am in a clear minority and I will happily go back for a second try.
Update! I have now had my second attempt at Franco Manca (this time at the branch near Clapham Junction, on Northcote Road). This time, I tried the chorizo pizza (£6.95), with extra mushrooms (about £1.60). This one came with a more than adequate amount of tomato but, although I did get several pieces of chorizo, I was happy I’d ordered another topping. My pizza was good but I could have done with something other than garlic or chilli oil to dip my crusts in.
Where: Tooting Broadway
I have a friend who is slightly obsessed with visiting countries with a communist past, so when I heard that there was a communist-themed pizza restaurant opening up in Tooting, I knew exactly who would want to come with me to check it out. When we arrived, we found the walls covered in netting and communist propaganda posters, the lights dimmed, wooden furniture and red/brown leather seats. We sat ourselves in a wooden booth and glanced over the communist themed menu. Pizza was served by the slice or you could take on the 20-inch challenge and win yourself a T-shirt. I’m confident I could have managed that but I didn’t attempt it on that particular evening.
Instead, I had a very cheap night, making the most of Guerrilla’s happy hour offer: 2-4-1 cocktails and pizza slices between 5pm and 8pm Mondays-Thursdays. I enjoyed my slice of “Capitalist” pizza (mozzarella, sausage, bacon and pulled pork) and cocktails: the “Maotini” (gin, peak, apple syrup, lemon and elderflower) and “Ly-Che Guevara” (gin, lychee, lemon, apple syrup and lemonade). The only thing that wasn’t in keeping with the Communist theme was the playlist. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I am almost entirely sure I heard Beyonce and it wasn’t that. Not that I minded one jot – go Beyonce!
4. Voodoo Ray’s
Where: Dalston and Shoreditch
The other night I was on my way to some after work drinks in Shoreditch with a friend when I voiced that I was feeling a little hungry. I needed a snack en route. She told me she knew a great place that did pizza by the slice which would do just the trick. That place turned out to be Voodoo Ray’s, at their branch on the edge of the Box Park, and she was not wrong. There were so many options that it took me a little while to choose but I settled on The Meat Is On which was topped with minced steak, pepperoni, ham and pancetta. I felt a bit bad eating it in front of my friend as she is a vegetarian but that is basically all of my favourite things and I knew she wouldn’t judge. The inside seating area was quite dark and reminded me a bit of a diner but since the weather was warm we sat at the tables outside next to the road and the hustle and bustle of Shoreditch. At £4, it might sound like a lot of one slice of pizza but, as you can see, it was a pretty huge slice and relatively filling so not a bad price at all for a light meal.
The Street Food
5. Made of Dough
When I first went to Brixton’s street food destination – Pop – I had planned to only go for a drink. I’d even had lunch beforehand. That was a mistake because I arrived to the aromas of freshly cooked food, all of which looked delicious and considerably better than my own cooking. There was no way I could not try something. My friends and I settled on Made Of Dough’s stonebaked Neapolitan pizzas as this is something we could easily share. The chorizo one we tried so awesome that I’ve since been back and ordered one all for myself.