The Pizza Snob is blessed to have fabulous friends to help support his pizza passion. Witness my recent business trip to London where my associates even went so far as to schedule an important dinner meeting at a pizza joint! I did however suggest moving us to an Indian restaurant that my American boss would enjoy much more on his first trip to England. However, not wanting to waste this pizza recommendation, two nights later I made my way to the intended place, Pizza East in the Shoreditch district of East London.
Following a long day of nerdy tourism, it was getting late, I was hungry, tired and had only 1% left on my phone battery. Despite making several wrong transportation and directional decisions, I persevered and finally made it to Pizza East. For future reference, I now know that it is right across the street from the Shoreditch High Street station that is serviced by the London Overground.
It wasn’t until about 9:30pm when I approached the corner location in an old warehouse building. I soon realized why my mates needed a reservation at this place. Pizza East was about as happening as any place in London could be on a Friday night. The area out front was busting with activity, and I am pretty sure that this is the first pizza place I have ever visited where two plains clothes security men stood at the door. An affiliated club downstairs called Concrete was getting some of the attention, but the large, dark and swanky Pizza East dining room on the main floor was filled to the brims.
Graciously greeted at the door, I was lucky to immediately get a prime pizza-purveying seat at the counter right in front of the spectacular twin pizza ovens. There was even a hook below the bar to hang my coat! I was soon warmly greeted by my charming and hospitable waitress who was styled with a tall dark hairdo and cartoonish tattoos that made me miss Amy Winehouse.
As I suspected, this obvious high-class dining would of course involve traditional Neapolitan pizza from Italy. While there were some creative works coming out of the kitchen in front of me, I naturally kept my order a plain and simple Margherita (buffalo mozzarella, tomato and basil for £10). Their menu offers 11 different pizza selections. I noticed quite a few going out with salad-like toppings onto which they squirted olive oil as a dressing—not for this guy.
Seeking some quick protein sustenance, I had a delicious lamb meatball starter (covered with tomato sauce and parmesan cheese) that I washed down with a satisfying ginger beer. While I waited for my pie, I realized how noisy it was. The sounds of welcoming American rock music (Springsteen and R.E.M.) were barely audible above the collective murmur of the patrons.
As busy as things were, it took a while for my pie, but I greatly enjoyed watching the uber-professional cooks work the hot and deep pizza ovens with their long serving sticks. The digital readouts had these babies at 340 Celsius which translates to a whopping 644 Fahrenheit. The eventual direct oven-to-counter delivery of my pizza was more than I could ask for. My pie looked gorgeous and I would quickly discover this to be one of the best traditional Neapolitans I have ever had the pleasure to eat.
The thin-crusted pie was served sliced. Its end crusts were lavishly puffed up to boast spots of a delightful-looking black char. The tomato sauce was thinly applied atop a light touch of cheese blotches along with three positioned small basil leaves. I was quite surprised when I picked up my first slice to find the bottom crust crisp and sturdy enough to allow a fold. With my first bite, I was totally knocked out by how hot and fresh it was. Never had I had a pie like this served so oven hot. The wonderful sauce and cheese and a magnificently chewy end crust were delicious. The Pizza East pie ranks among the best I had in the Italian homeland. I passionately ate it quickly, and my pie held its heat and freshness throughout.
Looking at their website, I see that Pizza East also has locations in Kentish Town and Portobello. If you are a Londoner or just visiting, I highly recommend this place if you enjoy pizza or are looking for a fun fine dining experience. Reservations recommended!
PIZZA SNOB RATING ***** Sets the Standard
56A Shoreditch High Street London E1 6PQ, UK