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)