Thursday, 18 August 2011

Pizza East Portobello

There are some things that sound like somebody, somewhere along the line, has made a mistake – but which just work. Take, for example, the wonderful marriages of salted butter and jam, celery with peanut butter and half an avocado with Worcester sauce.

My art teacher at school used to call such serendipitous discoveries ‘happy accidents’ – a bit like the summer afternoon when my gran and a ten-year-old me concocted a ‘pioneering’ drink from raspberry cordial and lemonade which we called the Frisbee and got terrifically excited about it. Only later did we find out that the raspberry cordial was actually Crème de Framboise and our terrific excitement was in fact drunkenness. Boy, that was one heck of an afternoon – thanks Gran.


I digress. Just down the road from us, Pizza East has landed on the corner of Portobello and Golborne Road, W(est) 10; one such ‘happy accident’. No-one tell them it’s not East London and perhaps they won’t notice and try to take it back.

Although the place is only a few months old, the BSG and I have already managed to cover a large swathe of the menu and haven’t yet found a bum note. Though it is perennially packed out from 6.45pm, tables are swiftly turned, giving enough time to wet your whistle at the bar or outside on sunny evenings with a cocktail or some such (anywhere that serves Aperol spritzers is legendary in my book).

The place is open-plan so you can watch the drama unfold in the heat of the kitchen as wood-fired ovens roar open-mouthed and orders are relayed. Due to the presence of these ovens, the place also turns out other delicious things cooked amongst the flames. You can have crispy pork belly, beef fillet, salmon amongst others and if you can’t make up your mind, they do a pizza with pork belly on top. Heroes.

squid with salsa verde

To start, there are the usual Italian offerings of antipasti and others, but punctuated with a bit of Brit – bruschetta with bone marrow or beaten Pollock and radishes anyone? (We thought it rather a nice nod to the site’s previous guise, The Fat Badger pub). We shared the char-grilled squid with salsa verde and lemon – a nice clean start to proceedings. But we’ll probably try them all, before long.

Hands down the best pizza I have had in a long time was the spicy sausage, broccoli and mozzarella I had last time I was there. Just the right mix of pepper and richness, and amazingly no tomato sauce – the BSG had serious food envy, despite hugely enjoying his pizza with veal meatballs, prosciutto, cream and sage. My friend Dani, a veggie, adores the courgette flower, ricotta and marjoram, which sounds so pretty and is just as delicious. The ciabatta-style dough they use is pillowy and elastic, with a satisfying crunch where the crust bubbles up: an altogether different pizza dough, so the BSG thinks.

With the best will in the world, there is not usually room for pudding, so when we do squeeze it in we share. The raspberry sponge with mascarpone we had last time was well worth it, light and sharp and like a nursery teatime. No doubt we’ll try everything all over the coming months; it’s only fair to our support our new local which we’ve taken to our hearts (stomachs) – even if it doesn’t really sound that local. Moreover, there’s no doubt it will open more people eyes to the many wonders of the Golborne Road and its diverse shops and stalls. About time.

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