The Best £2.10 Pizza Slice in London

The most casual follower of young&foodish already knows I am a most passionate supporter of Datte Foco, the Roman-style pizza shop in London’s Stoke Newington. Pizzaiolo Herbie Leonelli bakes what are unquestionably the best rectangular trays of pizza al taglio (“cut”) in London. Or he did so until very recently.

My favourite of his many varieties: the classic combo of salsiccia (here chunks of mildly spicy sausage resistant yet irresistible to the chew) set against a desirably bitter backdrop of broccoletti (aka broccoli raab, broccoli rabe, rapini, friarelli).

I hint that Herbie’s salsiccia and broccoletti  pizza slice may no longer be the best only because the Roman native now has stiff competition from Nicola and Daniele, two pizzaioli who now work with him. Their pizza al taglio crust is thinner and crisper and has compelled Herbie to up his game.

The only thing separating Datte Foco from true greatness are its deficits in supply and demand: supply of customers with a demand for £2-£2.25 slices. Al taglio is ready-to-go pizza and therefore relies on steady trade to keep the trays turning and allow the pizzeria to offer more combinations. A queue outside a shop in Rome may not be a sure indication of quality but it does suggest the trays of pizza loaded into its window displays won’t sit for very long.

So why are there rarely long queues at Datte Foco? Is it the location in N16, north of Central London with no nearby tube station? Are passersby discouraged by unclear pricing determined by weight? Are they put off by what looks to them like unappetising cold pizza sitting in the window? Do they dislike the vibe, the rear dining area, the counter service? Are they opposed on principle to pizza that isn’t round?

For me none of that matters if Herbie, Nicola and Daniele keep baking salsiccia broccoletti pizza and, see below, aubergine (eggplant) ricotta basil tomato pizza like theirs. Until – fingers crossed – London catches on I am tempted to form my own queue, ordering one small square and then doubling back behind me to order another. And another. And another. Care to join me?

 

Datte Foco, 10 Stoke Newington Church Street, London N16 0PE (map)

See The Best £1.50 Steamed Burger in London

About Daniel

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

Comments

  1. Ben says:

    Have you tried the pizzas at il bacio located on the same street? They literally encompass a whole plate!

  2. Daniel Young says:

    Ben – I have. Datte Foco may be on the same street as friendly Il Bacio but the quality of the ingredients is world’s apart.

  3. I keep meaning to try this pizza – will help create a queue soon. As a former New Yorker I definitely miss pizza by the slice. I love how in some Italian pizzerias they use scissors to cut a piece from a huge quilt of pizza that’s the size you request.

  4. Jon says:

    I didn’t try Datte Foco for ages, put off by the “cold pizza” display in the window. More fool me: when I did venture in, I discovered sheer al taglio delight. I think this may be some of the best pizza by the slice I’ve ever had (Italy included). My advice to anyone passing is don’t be put off by the unprepossessing display, the proof of the pizza is in the eating!

  5. Daniel Young says:

    Excellent comment, Jon. Hope many Londoners read and heed your advice.

  6. Iain Chambers says:

    I used to live on Stokey Church St. and as an independent cafe owner myself I wish them all the best. It is a pretty good location, and the customer base must be there for high quality pizza using fresh ingredients made with care and authenticity.

    If they are not busy enough, it suggests that maybe the marketing isn’t all it might be. I have to say that I’m not keen on the website at all. Horrible white type on black background with far too much information. It looks like a 14 year old Goth has designed it.

    Show me the bloody pizza, tell me the phone number, make me a good offer for trying your wares, link to an independent review that loves the product! You can give me all the biography and reasons for starting the business and all the rest on some other pages. On the landing web page make me want to eat your pizza! Now!

  7. Iain Chambers says:

    Just had another look at their website. It almost makes me angry Daniel. Look at your photo of their pizza slice above. Looks irresistible. Now look at their website. When you eventually find a picture of pizza it looks ‘school dinner’ awful!

    I could contact them myself and tell them. Only problem is, their contact page isn’t formatted to make contact easy. Running a food business isn’t just about what’s on the plate.
    If you read this blog Datte Foco people (and you should be regularly googling yourselves for feedback), ask some people what they think of your website, then spend £500 -£1000 on a decent website (with photos taken by a pro) on your homepage.

  8. kirst says:

    Think you’ve hit the nail on the capo Daniel. Catch 22 – product and image suffers when they’re not busy, but they’ll never get busy because product and image suffers when they’re not busy, but they’ll never get busy…..

    I guess, like Iain says, they need to focus a bit more on marketing, image, vibe. I’d normally never encourage this if the product is right, but see above. Their fresh-made stuff, partic the salsiccia and broccoletti (which, incidentally, I found hooooooooot, and I’m no chili chicken) is great and I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE being able to choose my portion size, but I’ve also had slightly disappointing slices which I put down to the tray sitting there too long.

    It’s funny, I was going to say service is a bit slow, but I used to live on Maletti’s pizza on Noel St in Soho and I’d happily wait half my lunch hour for that, but then, they weren’t slow, just really busy.

    Are we sensing a theme? All we can do is encourage more people to try it. I shall do so.

  9. Daniel Young says:

    Iain – Thank you for your insightful comment. I fear the shortcomings of the website reflect other shortcomings in the way the business is branded and presented. It pains me because they are nice guys and, more importantly, the pizza is so good. Let’s hope they wake up soon and smell the espresso

  10. Daniel Young says:

    Kirst – Very good comment, thanks. I hope the guys at Datte Foco read it. Yes, we pizza lovers will do our best to encourage more people to try it. But, as you suggest, they must take a hard look at the marketing, image and vibe and make changes if they are to fully benefit from word-of-mouth, speed the rotation of pizzas and thrive.

  11. Kiernan says:

    Must try this.
    Have you ever been to the pizzeria (Al Parco I think) at top of Highgate Rd, by the Heath?
    Would recommend it if you’re still doing Pizza Tuesdays – or even if you’re not. Would have to be the best pizza I’ve had in London

  12. peppe romano says:

    I tried this roman style “pizza”. Well, in Rome you can definitely find a good “pizza”, but it’s hard tho.I don’t expect to find something comparable in London, but why not give it a chance?
    Well it takes way more than being an english kid from the public school, with an italian sounding name, and having spent 5 years in Rome, to master this business.
    It takes more than a “foodie’s blog” to deserve the “best slice” in London. 
    What I really hope is that really people will read this blog and go there, like I did.
    But I also hope that they will spend a few minutes to write a comment (a true one, not the one of a friend trying desperately to pass an ad for a “independent review”). 
    I forgot to give a review. Well you go there and write your own one, then make sure you remember who told you to go there, it wasn’t me.

  13. Daniel Young says:

    Peppe – I have never seen or socialised with Herbie Leonelli outside of his pizzeria, Datte Foco, but my understanding is that he is an Italian kid from Rome who was sent by his parents to English boarding school. Regardless, I don’t mind your pointing out any errors as you seen them, or disagreeing with any of the views expressed. On the contrary I encourage readers to do both. I do take issue with your questioning my integrity. You don’t know me remotely well enough to make such an accusation, which is false and which I suspect says more about your motives than mine.

  14. Cristiano says:

    Hi I’ve read the article, but I didn’t have the occasion to try their pizza yet…any way I could warmly suggest to change the way of making the pizza meaning that instead of cooking the pizza and then display it in the window just cook the base and place the raw ingredients on top then slice it and cook it on demand as many very good pizzeria romane do such Trapizzino, Pizzarium and so on. The only problem he might need to change radically the pizza dough that from pictures seems very thin as he need to use a more airi and light base yet more fluffy and moist, best the use of lievito madre but he can actually do without.

    The display of the pizzas will look more colourfull and fresh and he will differentiate himself once more from the London competive market.
    Other point he will also need to work with graphic or any other communication means to explain to customers the why and because as we are not in Rome or Italy.
    Hope this help and that I did properly explain my self
    best
    Cri

  15. Ben says:

    Hello

    There is a similar place in Soho called Maletti. It is a delicious way to get just enough Pizza, and to be able to have multiple types in one meal. I am delighted to find that there is such a thing near to my house!

    Thanks for the info

    Ben

  16. I have been trying to find somewhere for ages that does a decent pizza slice. This place looks great! Thanks for sharing :)

  17. Michel P says:

    Been to Datte Focco twice and I can only approve of this article, really friendly, good value for money.

  18. paul says:

    My ex wife was Italian, hence many trips to Italy, and many time did I come back hankering for the taste of pizza al taglio.
    I even thought the food was so good, I even considered investing and opening my own Al Taglio takeaway in Birmingham to cater for the lunchtime crowd.
    However it seems my fellow Englishpeople are not ready for this, or won’t accept it…Preferring instead a Greggs sausage roll, or a Subway!!! Oh ye of poor taste :(
    Unfortunately I rarely travel to London so cannot sample this shop, even though I would love to.

  19. This is for me is the best Pizza I have ever had. I actually did not like the Pizza in Rome as much as Datte Focco. I prefer he crust in Datte Focco as it is crustier than anything I had in Rome. I also really like their chilli oil and the way they give it to you so that you can dip the whole pizza in there and give the thick crust a good soaking. This is my favourite way to eat Pizza and a way that I only discovered after eating in Datto Focco. Their sausage and spinach pizza soaked in Chilli Oil is amazing. It makes me hungry just thinking about it and I think I will go there tomorrow night even though it takes me an hour and a half to get there. For me though Datte Focco is that is because it is so unique.

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