Top 10 pizzas in London

Top 10 Pizzas in London
1. Saporitalia
2. Sacro Cuore
3. Santa Maria
4. Story Deli
5. Santoré
6. Pizza Metro Pizza
7. Franco Manca
8. Sartori
9. Pizza East 
10. Rossopomodoro

 

My top 10 pizzas in London list is Naples-centric.  For the moment London pizzerias would rather emulate and import the Neapolitans than develop their own style.

According to regulations set by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana a pizza must be soft and elastic as well as easy to manipulate and fold. The cheese, either mozzarella di bufala or fior di latte (cow’s milk mozzarella), should appear in evenly spaced patches.

Much as I revere Naples as the birthplace of the tricolored Margherita – red tomatoes, white mozzarella, green basil – and the enduring epizzenter of pizza I am open to regional variations. A charred, chewy, puffed-up cornicione is the cornerstone framing every great pizza, but who’s to say the disk can’t be crisp all the way to the centre point? And why not connect the dots of soft, sensuously milky cheeses from Caserta and Salerno, liberating them to float more densely over the tomato sauce to blanket the pizza with a thin but contiguous layer of molten mozzarella?

top 10 pizzasIn time London’s top 10 pizzas may be more diverse. Londoners have proved impressionable for the compressionable crusts at fashionable Pizza East. The ultra-crisp, wafer-thin pizza platforms at Story Deli constitute a truly OILy – “Only In London” – pizza experience.

Slow food is a good thing, especially when it comes to pizza dough. The best are prepared with a small amount of fresh yeast, with fermentation lasting up to 24 hours. What I cannot tolerate is slow eating of pizza. It must be consumed hot.

Top 10 Pizzas in London
 

1. Saporitalia

top 10 pizzasIf you want to understand my desire for a molten mozzarella hurry to Saporitalia and see how the islets of fior di latte (cow’s milk mozza) melt into one another, keeping soft and fluid even minutes after the pizza has been pulled from the wood-fired oven. Lift the pizza up from one end and the cheese slowly slides to the other, loyal to its substratum of rich plum tomatoes but not stuck to it. If I speak of this Margherita less as an inanimate object than a living thing that’s because it is.
top 10 pizzasValentina Ferro was head pizzaiolo at Pizza Metro Pizza in 2009, when that Battersea pizzeria topped the first version of this list. His thin crust, neither too crisp nor too soft, has just the right give. Its light break in the mouth is itself a special chew sensation. You don’t really need the cheese. Well, almost.

22 Portobello Road, London W11 1LJ (see map), 020 7243 3257

 

2. Sacro Cuore

A mural of Naples, its cartoon monochrome an amusing departure from the kitschy landscapes of pizzerias past, may reveal Sacro Cuore’s origins. But you discover its the Margherita pizza that points you in the direction of Naples with greater speed and accuracy than the most advanced GPS navigation. It might sound odd for you to hear a pizza described as “juicy” but many of the best ones are, notably this one. The tomato sauce and fior di latte float over a wonderfully light, elastic, charred crust. Bend a triangular slice and the loose toppings will collect in the middle and, upon first bite, shoot flavours throughout your mouth.  So is the pizza at Sacro Cuore truly superior to that at Santa Maria (see immediately below), its older London sibling? I’d say the answer matters far less than the investigation leading to it, with as many visits as possible to both pizzerias.

45 Chamberlayne Rd, London NW10 3NB (see map), 020 8960 8558

 

 

3. Santa Maria Pizzeria

top 10 pizzasThe pizza apostles of Santa Maria may suffer a rare bout of ambivalence upon seeing their pizzeria near the top of this list: All pleasure taken from any validation of their good taste will be tempered by fears of longer queues. Some see in Santa Maria the image of Franco Manca, the groundbreaking London pizzeria that is number 7 on this list. That was perhaps truer in 2010 than it is now. Once you see and taste the Margherita’s silky, milky, oozy and, yes – yes! – salty surface of fior di latte you must trace its genetic roots
top 10 pizzasdirectly to Naples. The pizza, like co-owners Angelo Ambrosio and Pasquale Chionchio, is Neapolitan, sure enough, but the soft crust holds up to pressure, from the beautiful tomato sauce as well as your eager fingers, and the rim, for better or worse, is not too too puffy and spotty.

15 St Mary’s Road, London W5 5RA (see map), 020 8579 1462

 

4. Story Deli

top 10 pizzasRelocated for a third time, Story Deli remains a showcase for London’s most remarkable and pound-per-gram, most pricey pizza. It is also the most satisfying to slice into, hence the cutting board and pizza wheels that accompany every serving. The rotating blade cuts through the bubbly ends of the flatbread disk more cleanly than you expect. From a no-yeast dough baked for 30 seconds at 400°C (750°F) this organic pizza format has zero give, bend or compression. Its only response to pressure is crunch. Cubes of mozzarella di bufala and freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano are scattered over the pesto-brushed Margherita AFTER it has baked. The raw mozza retains its pristinely fresh taste and soft texture.
top 10 pizzasLee Hollingworth’s creation is neither filling nor, at £16, cheap. But the main reason Story Deli pizza is number 4 and not number 1 on this list is it’s more pizza salad than pizza and too abstract to satisfy cravings specific to the pizza experience.

123 Bethnal Green Road,  London E2 (map)

 

5. Santoré

top 10 pizzasForget Tower Bridge and Trafalgar Square: The essential London attraction for Italian tourists was Soho’s was Spaccanapoli, probably because its pizza’s puffy, chewy, smoky-flavoured cornicione was so similar to what they can get at home –  if home was in Spaccanapoli, the old quarter of  Naples. The eviction of that great pizzeria by the Crossrail construction project had devastated pizza lovers shedding tears into the melted mozzarella at Santoré, Spaccanapoli’s sibling restaurant in Clerkenwell. The pizzas at Santoré were, if anything, improved by Spaccanapoli’s closing.
top 10 pizzasOwner Mimmo Savarese tapped Nicola, his best Spaccanapoli pizzaiolo, to shape the Santoré dough and work in its ovens in the manner of the great Naples pizzeria Trianon da Ciro. Though the eminently foldable Margherita is undeniably Nicola’s best pizza, the Siciliana, with cherry tomatoes and aubergines, is sensational: The slices are more pleasurably pliable and less soggy without the tomato sauce, while the cherry tomatoes explode with flavour, as cherry tomatoes, when in peak season, are wont to do.

59-61 Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell, EC1 – 020 7812 1488

 

6. Pizza Metro Pizza

top 10 pizzasThe Gambero Rosso guide to the pizzerias of Italy included seven foreign addresses: two in Paris, two in New York and three in Battersea. A single area of south London merited more pages than all of Venice or Trieste. Sadly, one of those eateries, A Fenestella, has closed, leaving locals to choose between two authentic Neapolitans: the admirable if inconsistent Donna Margherita and the outstanding Pizza Metro. Every millimetre of Pizza Metro’s wall space is covered with Naples-themed movie posters, murals and kitsch when all you really want to see is a pizzaiolo pull his puffy-rimmed, lightly charred, gently crisp, metre-long masterpizzas from the wood oven. The trouble with long pizzas, however, is they’re difficult to rotate on the oven. As a result one end might be dark and charred; the other, pale and underbaked. The tomato-painted ovals carry the requisite Neapolitan patchwork of fior di latte, only here the heat-blasted mozza has melted into glistening pools. The newer Pizza Metro in Notting hill uses gas to heat its oven, rather than wood, and quality suffers.

Pizza Metro Battersea, 64 Battersea Rise, Battersea, SW11 – 020 7228 3812
Pizza Metro Notting Hill, 147-149 Notting Hill Gate, 020 7727 8827

 

7. Franco Manca

top 10 pizzasUpon arriving for the first time at the original Franco Manca I asked a waitress to pinch me. She said I would have to queue like everyone else. Happily the organic artisan pizzeria beneath the Brixton Market arcades and its then sub-£5 (now £5.80) Margherita were no dream.  I soon discovered if there was any reality pinching to be done it should be of the fluffy, chewy, char-spotted cornicione that frames its ethereal pizzas. Conscientious sourcing is central to the laudable story line created by creator Giuseppe Mascoli, but he overreached in choosing a mozzarella blend from a domestic producer in Somerset. This British cheese solidifies in fast-drying patches over the Margherita, marring the interplay with the sweet Ligurian tomatoes and the thin, limp sourdough platform. Another worry is that the Franco Manco formula of very very slow fermentation and very very fast cooking requires great consistency in all conditions of preparation. But even when not at their very very best the pizzas things of beauty. We have Mascoli to thank for lifting the status of pizza in London from convenience food to art form. 
 

Franco Manca Brixton, Unit 4, Market Row, Brixton, S9 – 020 7738 3021
Franco Manca Chiswick, 144 Chiswick High Street, Chiswick, W4 – 020 8747 4822
Franco Manco Stratford, Westfield Stratford, E20 – 020 8522 6669
Franco Manca Northcote, 16 Northcote Rd, SW11 – 020 7924 3110 

 

8. Sartori

top 10 pizzas
The authentic Neapolitan pizzas at Sartori are baked in wood-fired brick oven custom built by the great Neapolitan craftsmen of Strazzula Michele, the Stradivarius of pizza ovens. Unfortunately, that oven is located in the lower level of the restaurant and so most diners miss the action as Paolo, a pizzaiolo familiar to Londoners through his work at Santore and Spaccanapoli, slides out one steaming pie after another. Regardless, how great to have Paulo, his Strazzula Michele and his pizza in Leicester Square.

15-18 Great Newport Street, WC2, 020 7836 6308

 

9. Pizza East

top 10 pizzasRather than merely emulate the Neapolitans Pizza East looked west, to Los Angeles, for some crisp thinking. The pizza is crisp to the core, unlike its soft-centered counterparts in Naples, yet extremely light, airy and delicately chewy. All vidence suggests that the charred, blistered and bubbly cornicione was inspired by the sourdough crust at Pizzeria Mozza in LA. It compresses exquisitely to the chew. The English difference entails dusting the dough with fine Maldon sea salt. The mozzarella is good example of imported Mozzarella di Bufala Campana DOP – the best that GBP can buy. Pizza East drains the cheese, as it must, only not excessively so. The scattered patches of cheese do melt and ooze some as the pizza bakes, but the transformation from solid state towards a liquid one does not turn the whole disk into one milky mess. My growing disenchantment as Pizza East expands has nothing whatsoever to do with style of the pizza, or the noise and discomforts of so buzzy a restaurant, and everything to do with pizza preparation. Assembly is rushed. Cornicione creep, the infringement of the pizza’s rim towards its centre, has progressed to the point where a quarter of the pizza surface can be toppingless.

Pizza East Shoreditch, 56 Shoreditch High St, Shoreditch, E1 – 020 7729 1888
Pizza East Portobello,  310 Portobello Road, W10 – 020 8969 4500
Pizza East Kentish Town,  79 Highgate Road,  NW5 – 020 3310 2000

 

10. Rossopomodoro

top 10 pizzasWhile Rossopomodoro’s rapid growth is surely hurting independent pizzerias it’s hard to knock the Naples-based chain for Starbucksizing the business when its management is so fussy about authenticity. The dough is said to be prepared with water imported from Naples – a gimmick, yes, but a harmless one when each pizza possesses the puffy cornicione and melt-in-your mouth sensation of a one-off Neapolitan classic. I worry mostly about rushed preparation, inconsistency from location to location and, as a result of either, the occasional difficulty digesting a pizza. Still, when a meticulous Neapolitan pizzaiolo is lifting each pizza in the oven for a last-second blast of crisping Rossopomodoro is capable of true greatness.

Rossopomodoro Covent Garden, 50-52 Monmouth Street, WC2 – 020 7240 9095
Rossopomodoro Chelsea, 214 Fulham Road, SW10 –020 7352 7677
Rossopomodoro Notting Hill, 184A Kensington Park Road , W11– 020 7229 9007
Rossopomodoro Camden, 10 Jamestown Road, Nw1 - 020 7424 9900
Rossopomodoro Hoxton,  1 Rufus Street, N1 

 

About Daniel

Food critic and events leader Daniel Young is the "Young" behind young&foodish

Comments

  1. Daniel Young says:

    Sara – Thanks for bringing this distressing development to our – and hopefully Datte Foco’s attention. I learned of its drinks offer at a recent late afternoon visit but was not aware of its extent.

    Much as it upsets me (and compels me to reconsider its ranking on the list) I can’t say as I blame Datte Foco’s owners for trying so misguided a policy. Surely it came more out of frustration than anything else: If Londoners had supported Datte Foco one quarter to the extent its fine pizza al taglio merited promotional gimmicks of any kind would not have been necessary.

  2. Daniel Young says:

    Dino – Always delighted to see and read your comments, especially when we disagree.

    There was nothing average about Pizza East pizza in its first days. If you didn’t much care for its genre, style or format that would be understandable. Many shared that view. But average? Those early pizzas were credible copies of the sourdough pizzas at LA’s Pizzeria Mozza. Their preparation was overseen by Bryant Ng, a veteran of Mozza and one of the best young chefs in the USA.

    If you give the Pizza East portion of the post a second look you will see I did not describe its mozzarella di bufala as the very best, only as a good example of the best appellation £s can buy.

  3. Nick says:

    I’d just like to set the record straight about Due Sardi and Amici Miei on Kinglsand Rd – whilst the owners are indeed relatives and located next door to each other, they do not share the same pizza oven and their pizzas are different. Each have their own ovens and each serve different styles and with different toppings. Both are pretty good though.

    Of the ones I’ve visited on this list, I’d firmly agree with all except two: Story Deli, which for me, serves dry, thin, sparsely topped and unremarkable pizza at absolute rip-off prices, and Pizza East – whose LA-style sourdough pizzas just aren’t to my taste.

    Meter on the ground floor of what used to be CAMP near Old St roundabout does a good Neapolitan-style marghertita and is well worth checking out, too.

    I’d also stick up for Pizza Express, because I was pretty much brought up on their pizzas back in the day when there was very little else around other than the truly dreadful likes of Pizza Hut, and I think that, for a chain of their size, quality is usually pretty consistent.

  4. Daniel Young says:

    Nick – Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Your arguments against Story Deli and Pizza East and for Pizza Express are the right ones and can’t easily be dismissed. I’ve tried Meter and thought it was pretty good. I’d go back. I loved their pizzelle frittipizza doughnuts.

  5. AH says:

    Interesting. We leave right between Santa Maria and the Franco Manca in Chiswick and keep switching allegiances. Of late we’ve favoured Franco Manca due to their consistency. When Santa Maria gets it right, they get it oh so right, but recently we’ve had a few that didn’t quite hit the mark (but being pretty picky admittedly). I think what could be said for both is that the simper pizzas are better, particularly meat-free options. The santa bufalina at Santa Maria (when on a good day) being pick of the bunch.

  6. Antonio says:

    Saporitalia restaurant …. Simply the best!!

  7. Michael McHugh says:

    Chiccos pizza, 42 Camden High Street has been over looked. Fantastic pizza, friendly atmosphere, amazing service, great prices. It deserves to be amongst the best. Please review. M

  8. Daniel Young says:

    Thanks for the tip, Michael. How many of those on the list have you tried?

  9. Sarah W says:

    Santa Maria is one of the best. But want the best in the world, it’s Pizza Bianco on Phoenix, Arizona. He has done the joint venture with Jamie Oliver on Union Jack. Forget that however, his own restaurant in the states is reputed to be the best in the world and, as a pizza freak, I can say it is…..amazing. Also I rate Di Fara in Brooklyn, legendary, both the pizza and the man. Forget Keste and Co Pane.

  10. Lorenzo Peri says:

    Neither of my 2 favourite pizza places are on the list. Please try them. They are better than most and have a great atmosphere. After years I know the owners of both, great people.

    Soho Joe
    22-25 Dean Street
    Soho
    London
    W1D 3RY

    Pizza@Home
    350 Old Brompton Road
    Earls Court
    London
    SW5 9JU

  11. Alexander says:

    Given the distance I would say that you get better food quality and service at the Portobello Pizzaria that Pizza Metro.

    From my experience the service there is pretty abysmal too. But that’s just my opinion. I think the French make better pizza’s that Italians these days anyway.

  12. Chris F says:

    @Lorenzo – When I lived in Fulham a few years ago I had pizza@home delivered a good few times – I personally found it very greasy/oily. I don’t think it’s been overlooked I think it’s not good enough.

    Worth adding the kentish town address to pizza east – I wasn’t disappointed when I went there, in fact I loved it.

  13. Emma Johansen says:

    Sodo, Clapton Road should definitely be listed on here. Amazing sour dough pizza

  14. xoen says:

    You *have* to try Pizza Pazza, it’s a new pizzeria and italian restaurant in South Lambeth Road (145 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 1XN), this place is so good (trust an italian!!), the food is high quality, the atmosphere, the service, the owner and everything is really great. Sorry, not everything is great, everything but the prices!

    Give it a try if you’re looking for a REAL italian restaurant but you don’t want to spend a lot of money ;)

  15. Angela says:

    Hey – u should also try the new Del Mercato in Borough Market (next to Brew Wharf). Their pizzas were fab! yum yum yum!

  16. Lorenzo says:

    I was looking for some articles online and found this very interesting website, If I can give my opinion, Made in Italy still makes the best Pizza in london, I always go in their Kings Road branch and Notting hill from time to time, and I have always had one of the best pizza I eve ever eaten in my life.

  17. Ian daw says:

    I live in streatham and visit brixton market on a regular occurrence usually for Franco manca I believe there pizzas to be best in the city they take sourcing there ingredients as serious as there pizzas which to me is the most important thing ( I have been a chef for 16years ) and the fact your not in an expensive restaurant but in a market in the cold paying six pounds just sums it all up!

    I have recently found a place round the corner from me which I have to say is very very close to Franco please check it out
    Bravi raggazi streatham

  18. David says:

    Daniel,

    I am presuming you have eaten pizza in Naples and at stalwarts such as Da Michele’s? If so I am a little phased at your choice of no.1. There is no real depth of flavour in the dough at saporitalia. Favour not only comes from the fermentation but the amount of yeast used, the age of the oven and the type of wood. Though Santa Maria/Sacro Curoe can sometimes be a little wet in the middle the dough is flavoursome which will only improve as the oven ages. All the other ingredients they use produce an authentic Neopolitan pizza as good as you will find in most pizzerias anywhere in Naples. Still some great places to eat pizza in London. Keep up the good work!

  19. Daniel says:

    David,

    Thank you for your comment. As you know some pizzas doughs require no yeast at all, relying instead on long, natural rising.

    The next time I am at Saporitalia I will pay more attention to the crust and its depth of flavour. You may have a point.

    Since you seem to know Naples I am surprised to hear you refer to a wet middle as if it were a minor matter. Neapolitans despise pizza that’s not cooked through, as they should. It pains them just to hear about it, much less eat it.

    Finally, you mention yeast, wood, oven and ingredients but neglect the mano – the hand of the pizzaiolo. Many pizza experts in London make the same omission.

    Best,
    Daniel

  20. Terence says:

    Best pizza in London by far is Soda in Clapton Hackney…. Yep you heard right, better than pizza east, great staff, great service, an oasis in what is a pretty run down area, people in the know are packing this little gem out every night….

  21. Rich says:

    Hi Dan,

    A fairly new pizza place that has opened is called HOMESLICE in covent garden! The pizza are huge and reasonable! they mix up the topping and flavoring on regular basis and they never fail to disappoint with flavor or originality . I would say that this 100% deserves a spot in the top ten when you update maybe? If you haven’t already go cause its banging!

    http://www.homeslicepizza.co.uk/

    Enjoy amigos!

  22. Andrea Sturniolo says:

    Great list, I’m sure it will help a lot in discovering new favourites! For what I am concerned, Made in Italy on Kings Road is surely in London’s top 10. And I agree with Daniel: Al Volo is good but nothing to write home about.

  23. Joe says:

    Visiting Notting Hill from New Haven, CT (look up our pizza credentials) in the US. Been to Italy 9 times and studied there for a year. Also, tried great pizza in NYC, SF bay area, and Minneapolis (yes, there’s excellent Neopolitan & New Haven style pizza there). Read about the London pizza trend & thanks to this list I tried East which is interesting but over priced and mediocre. Saporitalia is worlds better, and love that they serve traditional breaded anchovies, which I only ever found at my girlfriend’s mom’s kitchen! BTW, Otto & Homeslice deserve a visit bc they’re so unique.

  24. Daniel says:

    Joe – Great to get a West London pizza perspective from a native of one of the world’s pizza meccas. I’ve been to Otto and Home Slice as well as Frank Pepe’s and Sally’s Apizza. In Notting Hill I would also recommend Pizza Metro.

  25. david says:

    cannot believe you listed sartori in the top ten pizzas. Apart for the fact that its crust is NOTHING like authentic italian pizzas, the veg on top of my vegetarian were just chunks of cubed veg that looked and tasted like it was out of a freezer bag. Place like franco manca put that place to shame. What’s worst is that its run by all Italians, so they should know!

  26. Olly Newport says:

    I’d highly recommend BrewDog Camden’s pizza. It’s divine, neapolitan style base, gooey tasty cheese and – if you want – you can add any additional toppings for no extra cost!

  27. Luca says:

    Try Poco Pizza in West Hampstead. In my humble opinion is one of the best pizzas in town. (and i tried all of them on this list). Source: i’m italian.

  28. Gavin says:

    Check out Pappagone in Finsbury Park. I’ve not personally been but a Neapolitan friend of mine rates it above some of those on your list.

  29. Daniel says:

    Gavin – Your Neapolitan friend’s tip is a good one: I’ve been to Pappagone several times and have always enjoyed its pizza. It used to be featured on this list but a few pizzerias I like better have opened since.

  30. Yasmin, London says:

    Just to let you know, many things changed in Saporitalia since your last visit, the first and main important thing is that the pizza chef , Valentino, is not there anymore !!! I found out on my last visit and I was very disappointed as pizza is not as good as it used to be!!!

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