The Soho House group have nailed Kentish Town. Dirty Burger, Chicken Shop and Pizza East all take up a corner site on Highgate Road, and no matter what time or night of the week you go, they’re always busy. This Pizza East is much less hipster and up-itself than the Shoreditch branch. It’s for a crowd who hung up their Shoreditch clobber years back and have settled for the north west suburbs. The decor reflects the crowd, being less industrial and less ‘Shoreditch’, and instead it is much warmer. Inside it is all deep woods, wrought iron and warm lighting. This was a bit unexpected given that I’d only been to the deliberately cold bike-shed that houses Dirty Burger out back.
There’s a deli counter and a good selection of antipasti to get things starting. Needing some quick fill we went for garlic bread (£4) which was as standard as they come. It needed much more of a hit from the garlic.
The lamb meatballs and tomato sauce (£5) were tasty enough, helped along by the cheesy topping, but the sauce lacked any depth. It was all a bit Pizza Express.
The calamari with aioli (£6) again was fine, but nothing you’d hurry back for. It didn’t have a particularly good batter and the aioli needed more of a kick. For this price you’re hoping for better.
Sticking to the pizzas we had the speck, asparagus, mozzarella and parmesan (£11) which was a great pizza. They had been really generous with all of the toppings and the shaved asparagus hidden beneath all that meat was really tasty. The dough had nicely crisped up, but was still some way off the heights of Pizza Pilgrims.
The Veal meatballs, proscuitto, cream and sage pizza (£13) was again a decent pizza, but just a bit too salty. There wasn’t enough of the cream to balance things.
The star of the show was the pudding- a peanut butter cake (£6). The waiter couldn’t have been more determined to get us to give it a try, but hats of to him, it really was good.
The Affogato (£3) is quickly turning into my favourite pudding. The coffee was strong and unlike the drizzle I was given at Caravan, there was plenty of it here.
The service was friendly enough to forgive their inability to bring us any mayonnaise after asking 3 different waiters, but hated it when they brought the bill without asking and ‘politely’ reminded me to hurry up so the next table could sit down to keep to their 90 minute turnover time. Although the starters were so-so, the pizzas were worth coming back for, and overall it’s a great place to come with friends if you can’t be bothered to head central. It has a real buzz that you tend not to get outside of Soho or Shoreditch, and for this reason alone it’s worth coming for. But it isn’t cheap. When you think of going for a pizza you’d expect to be all in for around £20. This can easily set you back double that.
79 Highgate Rd, London NW5 1TL