26 September 2016

Pizza and Cocktails at The Beautiful Pizza Boy

Update (May 2017): Sadly, The Beautiful Pizza Boy has now closed, although it may resurface in another location. It looks like another pizzeria, Made of Dough, will be filling The Beautiful Pizza Boy's floury shoes from 9 June.

Peckham's lovely Bellenden Road has plenty of great restaurants but it didn't a pizza-and-cocktail joint — until the arrival of The Beautiful Pizza Boy, that is. The neighbourhood pizzeria and cocktail bar is the latest venture from the lovely people behind Little Bird Gin and Pedler, which featured in my recent list of favourite London restaurants. Although the website wasn't quite finished, I heard whispers of a soft launch on Twitter so we high-tailed it down to Peckham on Saturday — not long after finishing out post-run G and Ts at Little Bird's Maltby Street home.

We arrived towards the end of the lunch shift and there was a bit of a queue — not too much of a problem when it was such a beautiful day on Saturday. Before long, we were sitting at our table inside the bright, colourful restaurant. If you've been to Pedler, you will appreciate the real eye for d├ęcor and the accent pieces at The Beautiful Pizza Boy are similarly quirky: fishing nets hang from the walls, a vintage school water fountain (still working) hangs under the kitchen, and pops of sage green, pale pink and neon contrast with the stark brick walls. The lighting is as good as at Pedler: don't forget to look up!

For warmer days, there are a few tables in the back yard and a couple more on the pavement. If you aren't so lucky with the weather, there's a skylight inside to brighten up the dining room.

As the restaurant's name suggests, pizza is the main focus of the menu: wood-fired Neapolitan pizza, to be more precise. There are assorted snacks, starters, sharing plates and puddings to accompany the pizzas, though, not to mention the cocktail menu. The cocktails are creative, ambitious and very reasonably priced at £7–8. The pineapple martini sounded ace but I went for the Rosa Verde (£8), with Buffalo Trace, rose vermouth, pistachio orgeat and rose petals, with a Campari powder rub. The flavours combined beautifully — the bourbon and Campari powder taking the edge off the sweet rose and pistachio. It was also an exceptionally pretty cocktail.

We decided to share a few starters and small plates, which ended up arriving after the pizzas, but that barely mattered. The lemon and pink peppercorn olives (£3.50) came in a very generous portion, and the arancini (£5) were so tasty that I managed not to notice that they had mushrooms in them! We also had the 'nduja with garlic crostini (£5), which might have been more effective if the 'nduja was already spread on top of the crostini; nonetheless, the 'nduja tasted great and again, there was a big serving.

As for the pizzas, we all ended up having margheritas with extra 'nduja (£8). It was nice to see that most of the pizzas on the menu came with buffalo mozzarella as standard and indeed, the cheese, tomato sauce and 'nduja were all great quality. Overall, it was a very good pizza — especially for a restaurant that is still in soft launch. The base was tasty, although the crust was slightly more crispy than puffy and chewy. We were all very happy, anyway. If you are feeling experimental, there are a few more unusual pizzas on the menu, including the breakfast pizza with fennel sausage, pancetta, hen's egg, mozzarella, tomato and honey. The prices are very reasonable too, ranging from £6 to £9, with extra toppings for £1. There are a few puddings on the menu but we were way too full by that point.

I'm not sure who the eponymous beautiful pizza boy is but his restaurant is a beautiful place with a relaxed, neighbourhood-trattoria vibe, attentive service and lovely food and drinks. You can really see the amount of care that has been put into the restaurant: the attention-to-detail really is spot on. We got 50% off our bill for the soft launch, but even if we hadn't both the food and the drinks were very good value indeed. Oh, and if you like the look of The Beautiful Pizza Boy, another sister bar-restaurant, Lucky Gin, is coming soon to Queens Road, Peckham.

The Beautiful Pizza Boy. 182 Bellenden Road, London, SE15. Website. Twitter. Instagram.

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