Thanks to my real job, I made my third trip to London in the last four years. While I absolutely adore the place, eating British-made pizza isn’t high on my list of things to do when I visit. However, the temptation is hard to resist, especially when I walk by a place named Best American Pizza.
Though my travel tenure to London hasn’t been long, I’ve made it a habit to stay in the trendy area known as Shoreditch. Becoming to London what the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn has become to New York City, it thrives with hipsters and cool places to dine and drink. The streets are also full of colorful and quirky murals just about everywhere you look.
But, on the daily walk to my flat from the Old Street tube station, I passed many quick food places featuring takeaway kabobs, chicken, falafels and yes, even pizza. On the day of my arrival, with a long time between my late breakfast and my evening dinner plans, I thought I’d give Best American a try. Not fooled by the name, I was expecting not much more than something to write about.
Best American has been around since 1997 and is located on a side street just a few doors down and still visible from Old Street. Having no more inside other than a counter, with no place to sit they are 100% delivery or takeaway. Apart from a few side items, it’s all pizza and burgers. The pizza menu lists 25 different pre-designed selections along with a wide assortment of extra toppings including the only-in- Britain, prawns and Tandoori chicken.
Staying basic, I ordered pizza #1 which was described as a Margherita with “Mozzarella cheese & our special pizza sauce.” Size-wise, I did the non-metric “Small” 9-inch (listed as 6 slices but cut into 8) for £6.20. I stood and waited watching them make my pie.
It was hard to peek behind the counter, but I did manage to see my pizza’s creation commence inside a small pan. Starting with the dough on the bottom, the cheese and sauce were layered on top before the pan was sent through the oven on a moving belt. Eventually, it appeared out front behind the counter where it was put into a pizza box, ready for me to carry back to my room.
This unconventional pizza process of course did nothing to lift my already low expectations. In hindsight, I saw on their website that they also offer a more-desirable thin crust option, something I did not see advertised on the premises.
Back to my “no-bigger-than-my-home-closet” room, I opened the box to what looked like what I once called a “Puffy Pie.” It was mega-thick with way-too-much dough and cheese and only scant traces of that special pizza sauce. For an American pizza purist, it wasn’t a pretty sight. It looked like the kind of pizza you’d get at a place where you shouldn’t be buying pizza in the first place such as a movie theatre or a Little League baseball concession stand.
Despite the failings of this offering, I was hungry and ate it all. I won’t say that it tasted horrible, but it was more like eating melted cheese on bread than it was eating a pizza. Sorrily, it was flavorless and had no crispness whatsoever. I guess for an open cheese sandwich it wasn’t bad, although its oiliness soon started to strain my taste buds. As an American pizza, this flunked big time.
On my first pizza trip to London, I discovered the great Mulberry Street which from my Internet searching still seems to be the only authentic New York pizza place in town. My future wanderings did spot the Italian influence of several places selling traditional Neapolitan pizza. I would later uncover a fantastic new Neapolitan place resulting in my realization that going this way is your safest bet for a tasty pizza in the fair city of London.
PIZZA SNOB RATING ** Why Did I Waste Those Calories?
Best American Pizza 16 Pitfield Street
London N16EY, UK
020 7729 4428