The famous Snatch quote: “Yes, London. You know: fish, chips, cup ‘o tea, bad food, worse weather, Mary fucking Poppins… LONDON,” couldn’t be further from the truth right now: the capital of the United Kingdom is one of the world’s greatest foodie spots. Which is why, here, Italians shouldn’t feel too homesick: read on to find out where an Italian foodie in London fights the food cold turkey.
Pizza Pilgrims – Kingly Court & Soho (£6-9.50)
I’m ashamed to say that the best pizza I’ve ever eaten in my entire life was made by two Englishmen. Founded by the brothers James and Thom Elliot, Pizza Pilgrims started as a word-of-mouth sensation in markets and pop-ups all around London to become the successful, over-crowded two-branch restaurant it is now. The ‘Pilgrims’ comes from the pilgrimage across Italy the two brothers made on an small Ape van to learn the art of making pizza. As far as I’m concerned, they learnt it more than well: their mushroom truffle pizza is the best you’ll find in London – and don’t get me started on their Nutella and ricotta dessert ring. The end of the world!
Malletti – Soho or Theobald’s Road (£3.25-4.25)
My favourite pizza schools are ‘Naples style’ (round pizza with thick dough) and ‘Rome style’ (a squared slice of thin and crispy pizza). While the Pilgrims are Naples style, Malletti are more Roman. Their pizzas are crispy and thin, but big enough to satisfy a greedy Italian. Sure, Malletti make pizza with toppings you’d never see in Italy, but you will also find the good old Italian favourites. Their pizzas are mainly take-away, but you can sit down in the small tables in their pizzerias.
Princi – Wardour Street (£3 onwards)
Wardour Street’s Princi doesn’t only make some mean Roman style pizza: they also have a wonderful bakery with Italian-proof focaccias, quiches, salads and pastries. Their cakes and cannolis are definitely worth a try!
Franco Manca -Brixton, Broadway Market and various locations (£6-11)
Franco Manca is another popular Naples style pizza place in London. It started in Brixton and then opened a number of branches all across town, in Broadway Market, Westfields, Balham, Chiswick, Tottenham Court Road and more. According to the legend, the name comes from the fact that the first ‘pizzaiolo’, Franco, was always away (‘manca’ or ‘is absent’ in Italian). Franco Manca’s pizzas are all made with organic ingredients and are great with their great Sicilian lemonade.
John Doe Kitchen – Old Street (£3 onwards):
One of my latest discoveries, Old Street’s John Doe kitchen is owned by two Italians who make traditional dishes with an interesting twist. Try their wonderful basil and almond hummus with home-made focaccia as well as their mozzarella croquettes with chilli sauce. They also have craft beers and cheaper wines and cocktails than most places in Shoreditch. Translate (£5-6 for an Italianish breakfast)
But what’s an Italian home-away-from home without good coffee? For Italian-proof espressos and cappuccinos, go to the Translate café at the Dictionary hostel on Kingsland Road, Shoreditch. You’ll find a friendly atmosphere, classic rock music in the background and a choice between traditional pastries and hipster cronuts.
This article is an edited translation of a post on my old blog London’s Calling – Londra Chiama.
Pictures by: Carolina Are, Princi, The Dictionary Hostel