As a native New Yorker in London chronically homesick for his hometown pizza I was delighted to see the bar Dalston Superstore open Voodoo Ray’s. The nocturnal pizzeria’s location at 95 Kingsland High Street in Dalson, just down the street from the glorious Rio Cinema, was just far enough from my N16 flat for me to work up an appetite on the walk over.
With its good vibe, Brooklyn Brewery beers and crisp slices of pizza sold by the triangle, in the New York way, I will surely be back again and again, especially before, after or, when hunger hits, during screenings at the Rio.
I’m also delighted Voodoo Ray’s is open until 1am on weekdays, 3am on weekends. I rarely go out past midnight anymore but I do sleep much better knowing there’s crisp pizza-by-the-slice (£3.30-£4.20) within reach at 2:17am on a Saturday.
I do hope, however, the pizza at Voodoo Ray‘s is not yet a finished product. There’s no lift to the crust, little puff to the rim and only the slightest compression to the chew. The fior di latte (cow’s milk mozzarella) melted over Regular slice – “regular” being the New York street term for Margherita – has zero ooze. The cheese cover on the Buffalo Margherita is spotty. And the ricotta that dots the “Green + White” has been strangely browned in the oven through baking and reheat.
Truth is there is more art to Voodoo Ray’s pizza boxes than there is to its pizzas. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud the effort here. It’s part of a trend I am cheering from the sidelines with much admiration and even a little envy: London pizza startups fired more by passion and perseverance than training and know-how.
But as the grandson of a baker and a domestic pizzaiolo who kneads his own dough I know how much time and care the craft of baking requires. If making quality pizza from scratch were that easy there’d be a dependable pizzeria on every corner. This is true only in Naples. And a few areas of Brooklyn.