28 October 2013

A Soho Pilgrimage: Pizza Pilgrims Review

Ever since Pizza Pilgrims started selling their much-lauded Neapolitan pizza from a pimped-up Piaggio Ape van in Berwick Street last year, I've been wanting to find out if the pizza was as good as rumour dictated. But I never seemed to be in that part of Soho at the right time, and with the KERB street-food market so close to my office, I always had other options, including Homeslice and Fundi. Then, the pilgrims — brothers James and Thom Elliot, who did the most fun-sounding research ever when they took their van on a 'pizza pilgrimage' through Italy — opened a bricks-and-mortar pizzeria on Dean Street. Just opposite Pizza Express, of course.

Last night, a few friends and I were in Soho and in need of sustenance and so headed to Pizza Pilgrims. It was almost 7 pm and we were expecting to queue, but there was a free table of just the right size. At street level, most of the floor space is taken up by the prep station and the beautiful, tiled, wood-fired oven, although there are a few seats in the window. Downstairs, there are some more tables — the boys were a little disappointed we didn't get to sit at the foosball table. It was a lot more spacious than I was expecting, with minimal Italian decorations adorning the walls, including an illustration of the van, Concetta, and some cool lampshades made of mini Campari soda bottles.

The menu is divided into three sections: not pizza, pizza and after pizza. If you're after other types of Italian food, just go to Polpo or something. When we found out there was Prosecco on tap and that for £27 we would get one litre, enough for a good-sized glass for each of us, of course we ordered it. It would have been silly not to. The Prosecco was crisp and fruity, and just what was needed on a blustery autumn evening.

The pizza choices were a little trickier, but I went for the bufala — a margherita with buffalo mozzarella. Often, when you order a buffalo margherita, the mozzarella will be raw and the sauce will be replaced by fresh tomatoes, but this was just like the regular margherita but with even creamier and more delicious cheese. Our pizzas arrived swiftly and we weren't disappointed. With a thin base and puffy crust, you could really taste the wood oven. The cheese, as I mentioned was yummy and the sauce was also just right. Overall, it was quite similar to the pizza I had in Motorino, and it's definitely in my top three pizzas in London.

With some olives and a round of beers, the meal set each of us back just over £20. Not quite street food prices, but it would be unfair to compare a lovely meal in a restaurant to a boxed take-away pizza, and we thought it was very reasonable. You can get pizza to take away too, which just makes it easier to go back again soon. And again, probably.

Pizza Pilgrims. 11 Dean Street, Soho, London, W1D 3RP (Tube: Tottenham Court Road). Website. Twitter.

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