Pizza East

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Food: 6/10

Service: 6.5/10

Atmosphere: 8/10

Value: 6/10

Overall: 6.5/10

79 Highgate Rd, London NW5 1TL

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Pizza Pilgrims

I never managed to catch the van. It had swanned on over to Knightsbridge before I could nab a slice of their famed pizza. But thankfully they have opened up a restaurant on Dean Street. Inside has a cosy old-school feel with the clay oven taking centre stage. Upstairs there are 8 window seats perfect if you’re eating alone and want to people watch.

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I went the Guest Pizza (£9)- smoked mozzarella, courgette, garlic and lemon and chilli (which it could have done with a little more of). After the first bite I’m happy to say that the pilgrimage was really worth it. They’ve  nailed the art. So many restaurants get it wrong- the dough is either soggy and can’t hold the toppings, or it’s too crisp with no flavour. Here the dough was piping hot and incredibly soft, like the best bread. The toppings really worked and with a drizzle of good chilli oil it was the perfect pizza. It might not look like the prettiest pizza, but that’s the way it should be. After all it is homemade. I’m sick of every pizza being so uniform and neat with perfectly round pepperoni slices.

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A week later I was back, this time ordering the Marinara. Again it was a top notch pizza. That dough really is the best I’ve had, and the tomato sauce is really rich, making it a steal at £6.

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It’s hard not to love Pizza Pilgrims, and the pizza is up there with the best I’ve had in London. It’s worth taking a look on their website as well just to see how far they went to bring this pizza back to us.

9/10

11 Dean St, London W1D 3RP

 

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