Friday, 21 October 2011

Pizza East Portobello

So I was quite inclined to dislike Pizza East’s second venture, at the top of Portobello Road. It’s technically a chain (could they not have called it Pizza West, or maybe Electric Pizza to have semantically avoided this?) – and the Soho House group itself is in danger of veering away from low key, luxury clubhouse to Global Brand Of Professionals' Funloving, or in other words, a W Hotel.

It’s also taken over an old pub, The Fat Badger, which I didn’t love (because the drinks were rubbish and the staff too into themselves) but was needed in this area. Where Golborne meets Portobello is a rare independent hot spot in a Notting Hill being steadily eroded of independent spirit – and is probably West London’s best bet at an East London type experience, aside from small murmurings in Kensal Rise.

But to cut a long story short, I did rather like Pizza East, despite myself. The no bookings policy is a pain, but pretty standard these days and there is at least a small bar area to wait. We spent a fortune on cocktails and sharing plates here before our table (a Wednesday PM, absolutely rammed) so the bar area is obviously working well for them.

There are plenty of staff tearing around, and the place doesn’t feel too relaxing, even with the low lighting and comfort food. Being Notting Hill, it’s a sceney, self-important crowd but there you go. The other tables probably thought that about us.

And the pizzas are pretty excellent. They’re punchy; rising from about £8 for a margarita to £12-13 for the meaty ones. I think it’s a steep premium, given £7 would buy you the most premium pizza at Franco Manca.

sausage and broccoli
But they’re incredibly tasty and all is forgiven when they arrive. Italian sausage and broccoli is a great pairing and looks fantastic.

The burrata and fresh tomato pizza is probably the best: the tomatoes are so rich and flavoursome and the creamy burrata gives the pizza a more indulgent twist than merely mozzarella would. The whole thing is so smooth and tastes of summer.

The salami one was also excellent. Bases here are more Neapolitan in taste and shape, but with slightly deeper crusts giving it a more American feel. Fans of thin and crispy Roman pizzas, steer clear.

So, come here. You’ll probably despise it, and everything it stands for. It’s the Electric or E&O, but with pizzas.

You’ll hate the waiting, resent the £40 per head for a pizza night, and absolutely loathe the braying girl next to you talking about herself all night, but when the pizzas arrive you won’t care anymore. They are damn good.

I’d like to think there’s a strategically quiet time to nip in and out, but I doubt it’ll die down just yet – West London doesn’t get the hot openings any more. Bring on bills…

Food – 8/10
Drink – 8/10
Service - 7/10
Value – 5/10
Tap water tales – 6/10 ("Still or Sparkling" offered quite aggressively, "tap" got a nice carafe though)
Staff Hotness – 7/10 (some hotties running around, but as with the pub before it, too into themselves)
Pizza East Portobello on Urbanspoon

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