Your Essential London Pizza Hitlist
In the past couple of years, the number of pizzerias has exploded in London, with the Neapolitan style clearly leading the way. We adore that charred, chewy crust and soupy centre but oh, there are so many ways to enjoy that dough. Here’s where to get your next fix, from thin and crisp to giant, by-the-slice serves.
Best for… Roman-Style Pizza
Recently opened Stockwell Continental is run by the guys behind the Anchor & Hope group of gastropubs, so they’ve got good restaurant pedigree. This dough is made with olive oil and it’s a little more even in thickness from crust to middle than a Neapolitan. The toppings also tend to spread a bit closer to the edge of the pizza – great for those who like to leave their crusts (who even are you?)
We can highly recommend the mortadella pizza, which comes with a modest drift of Parmesan on top and pickled chillies hiding underneath (joy!). Heck, we even enjoyed the rocket on this one. They also do an interesting sharing option, where you and a pal can have a pizza and then a giant pork chop or steak. Ok, we wouldn’t have thought of it, but why not?
See our video: First Look at Stockwell Continental
Stockwell Continental, 169 South Lambeth Road, SW8 1XW
Best for… Neapolitan Pizza
The style of Neopolitan pizza is governed by a strict set of rules, (which run to a full 11 pages in a document issued by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana). The dough must be cooked in a wood-fired oven and it should display a ‘leopard spotting’ pattern on the base, resulting in a slightly charred, smoky flavour. The pizzas have large, puffy crusts and sparse toppings, and the centre is thin and often described as ‘soupy.’ How to eat it? Fold each slice in half lengthways and insert into mouth.
Neopolitan pizza is by far the most well-represented style in London (other than the crappy delivery chains, of course), so we’re going to give you a few options here.
Our editor’s local favourite (she’s in there at least once a week), this pizzeria is full of natural light and has the buzz and clatter of an Italian pizzeria with added cool South London vibes. The menu is short and features classics like anchovy, capers and olives or sausage with friarelli (gorgeous bitter greens), and a really stellar ‘nduja pizza with ‘nduja made over the road in The Camberwell Arms (where you’ll also find one of London’s best Sunday roasts).
The house chilli sauce is highly addictive, so be warned. Oh, and they make a killer tiramisu, which is so light and easy to eat you’ll look down and wonder where it all went until you find the remains on your face.
Theo’s, 2 Grove Lane, SE5 8SY
These guys are still turning out fantastic pizzas despite their rapid expansion (they now have seven sites in London). James and Thom Elliot famously embarked on a six-week pizza ‘pilgrimage’ (see what they did there) around Italy to learn the craft of the pizzaiolo, and they didn’t waste a moment if the quality of their dough is anything to go by.
Their Margherita is still outstanding and we always have time for that Nutella ring – basically a circle of pizza dough filled with the good stuff. Worried about exceeding your dough limits? Share a savoury pizza then head for the sweet or, order a Nutella ring for the table. We all know that dessert goes into a different stomach anyway.
Pizza Pilgrims, various locations
Crikey, Santa Maria is the real deal, and the sweet news here is they’ve opened a third site in Fitzrovia. It’s completely independently owned – and they’re obsessive about ingredients and technique – a very good thing for us, even if it does keep them awake at night.
Owner Pasquale says of the pizzas, ‘We go to the ends of the earth to make our pizzas perfect. From the dough, to the temperature of our handmade oven, to the order we place our ingredients on the dough, to the way we stretch the dough…you name it, we’ve thought about it!. Amen to that, pizza fiends.
Santa Maria, 15 St. Mary’s Road, W5 5RA; 94 Waterford Road, SW6 2HA
Notable Neapolitan mentions
These are just as great as those above but we frequent them less often.
Bravi Ragazzi, 2A Sunnyhill Road, SW16 2UH (pictured)
Addomme, 17–21 Sternhold Avenue, SW2 4PA
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele, 125 Stoke Newington Church Street, N16 0UH
Best for… Extra Large Pizza
Voodoo Ray’s do make really very large pizzas – 22-inch whoppers, which are great for sharing. Because the dough is actually quite thin, however, they’re really easy to pack away, and we’ll admit we’ve taken down one of these between two people before.
The vegetarian pizzas are way better than the meat pizzas, and we suggest that you check out the Green Velvet, which has artichoke hearts, green olives, sun-blush tomatoes (we know! So nineties!), mozzarella, tomato sauce and green sauce. It’s both fresh and rich – kind of how we imagine ourselves in ten years’ time.
Their restaurants also have a very young, hip vibe about them and are invariably packed with students ordering by the slice or people in very carefully put together outfits that are supposed to look like they got dressed in two minutes but actually took an hour. There is loud music, there are booths and it’s a bit like eating pizza at a party. Don’t go if you’re looking for a ‘grown-up’ experience.
Voodoo Ray’s, various locations
Best for… by the slice
We love this Italian spot in Central London, and feel a wave of warmth and joy every time we see it heaving, as it should be. Here is a café/restaurant that absolutely nails it as a perfect lunch spot, with one of the most tempting salad bars you’ve ever seen. Yes, tempting salad. We’re not talking limp rocket and a handful of dried cranberries here, but luscious combos of parma ham and mozzarella, or bresaola with artichoke cream, or glossy salad leaves with caper berries.
Anyway, you’re here to learn about the pizza, which comes cut into square slices: a perfect snack or lunch portion that won’t send you face planting your keyboard at 3pm. The dough is fluffy with a super crisp base, somewhere between a regular pizza dough and focaccia. On top, the same excellent ingredients they throw into those salads, like mushrooms, cured meats, beautiful cheese…
Princi, 135 Wardour Street, W1F 0UT
Best for… really very thin and crisp
We were sad recently when The Gowlett, one of Peckham’s best and most-loved pubs, closed its doors for business. One of their main attractions was the pizza, which came thin and crisp as you like, rustic as anything but lovingly made and of the kind that hooked you in slowly but surely until you became a hopeless addict.
Do not fear, however, for the pizza lives on as Crust Conductor, their mobile pizza business which comes in the form of a double-decker bus. This is very much a winter thing if you want to catch them in London, for in summer they are in fields at festivals. Head to Copeland Park to get your fix of the Aqua Marina (Crust Conductor sauce, baby clams, anchovy, capers, green olives) or the Not So American, But Hot (Crust Conductor sauce, mozzarella, salami Napoli, salami Milano, jalapenos).
Crust Conductor, Copeland Park, 133 Copeland Road, SE15 3SN
Best for… cool collaborations
These guys make badass pizza in general, but what we really love about them is the cool collaborations they do. At the moment, it’s a vegan collab with Biff’s Jack Shack, who make some of the best vegan food in London – they’re serving crispy fried jackfruit (it has the texture of pulled pork) with chipotle slaw, buffalo sauce and blue ‘cheese’ sauce.
In the past, they’ve collaborated with Monty’s Deli on an incredible Reuben stuffed pizza sandwich, Rola Wala on an Indian influenced pizza;,Breddos Tacos on a Mexican pizza, Let’s Jerk (jerk, obvs), and Patty & Bun (burger pizza, anyone?). We say sticklers for tradition be gone– just a bit of fun, innit. If it tastes good – eat it.
Yard Sale Pizza, various locations
Featured image: Yard Sale