Sure there are pizza places on every London high street and delivery chains that’ll satisfy your doughy cravings from Heathrow to Theydon Bois but the last decade has seen the rise of the serious London pizza joint. Often run by Italians and always boasting a wood-fired oven, these are the restaurants that are elevating the simple disc to an art form.
Franco Manca has been shaming London’s less dedicated purveyors of pizza on all fronts. These are artisan pizzas. The mushrooms are wild, the meats are special breeds and until you’ve actually bitten into the sourdough crust, your achievement badge in oven-baked, tomato and cheese embellished street food will remain inaccessible. As if that wasn’t enough, it is cheap as hell. The expletive is justified: the most expensive dish on the menu is a fiver and some shrapnel, which should fit happily in to most peoples’ increasingly stretched dining budgets. They’ve expanded to a couple of locations now but we love the original in Brixton market. There’s something special about eating London’s best pizza standing up in the bustle of the market stallholders.
Where? Unit 4, Market Row, SW9 8LD
Travel? Brixton tube
There’s a constant refrain we hear from our New York visitors: “Why can’t you get decent pizza by the slice in London?” And for years it was true – the good pizza places were sit-down, full-pie places. But then Voodoo Ray’s started selling delicious, spicy slices to east London night owls and a whole generation was turned onto them. Now they’re in Camden Market too but for Qbic guests, the Boxpark branch is just around the corner. The slices are huge, the toppings simple and they’re baked so quickly that you can be in and out in five minutes. For a truly one-off experience try the Rubenesque – it manages to combine sauerkraut, Russian dressing and slat beef and still be totally tasty.
Where? 1-3, BOXPARK, Bethnal Green Rd, E1 6GY
Travel? Shoreditch High Street Overground
It used to be that in the depths of Crystal Palace there wasn’t much to eat, which is a shame because what with the athletics and the park it gets a lot of visitors. Well now there’s 400 Rabbits, one of the best pizzerias in the city. There’s an inventive set of toppings to suit all tastebuds – we recommend the courgette, pine nuts, garlic, feta and mozzarella. However it’s not just all about pizza at this pizza-haven – no there’s an array of rare craft beers and gelato in flavours that will send you into a daze too.
Where? 30-32 Westow Street, SE19 3AH
Travel? Crystal Palace overground
Dotted throughout pizza’s spiritual home, Naples, are friggitorias – small glass cabinets usually sitting outside pizzerias, displaying healthy mounds of golden bon bons. Risotto, macaroni, mashed potato… they can all be balled, breaded and bathed in boiling oil. Served in white-turned-translucent paper bags, they are hoovered in the street and taste better than your entire seven-course taster menu. They are an ever-lasting food memory in a small and greasy ball and they make a perfect case for Naples being the best city in the world. That was until Pizza Pilgrims did what someone should’ve done years ago. They’ve only gone and opened a friggitoria in their new pizza joint in the heart of Soho. Naples, it’s on. You may have ancient ruins and a volcano for a neighbour, but we are London. And now the Pizza Pilgrims boys have nailed your frittatine di maccheroni. Be afraid.
Where? 11 Kingly Court, W1B 5PW
Travel? Oxford Circus Tube
Is there a better foodie combination than pizza and beer? Nestled beside the canal in Hackney Wick, Crate has secured itself a rather cosy little spot in a soon to be booming area of East London. Housed in a former print factory, this craft brewery has been set up by a group of locals, who’ve built it all from scratch themselves. As well as offering a range of ales, bitters and stout that are all brewed on-site, their main draw is their perfectly turned out stone-baked pizzas. Middle-Eastern lamb, laksa chicken and truffle and sage are personal favourites. Friendly portions of topping, with arguably the best pizza base we’ve been lucky enough to taste, make for a winning combination. What’s more, with the weather finally turning to a more agreeable state, Crate offers a rather idyllic setting for a beer by the water.
Where? Unit 7, Queens Yard, Hackney Wick
Travel? Hackney Wick Overground