pizza L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele margherita

L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele – Pizza Margherita

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How can the hype be any higher? There’s enough places that claim to be “the best” in the food world, that it seems ridiculous to seriously claim to be the greatest at any particular dish. I’ve seen at least three shops called The Best Kebab in London, and can guarantee (after… maybe having tried them as well) that they do not offer the best kebabs at all (one could claim kebabs aren’t meant to be good to begin with).

So along comes L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele, which doesn’t really claim to be the best pizza in the world, but it’s fans sure seem to scream so. Famously located in Naples, and apparently made famous by a book (and a sure to be terrible Julia Roberts film) called Eat Pray Love, this offshoot of the original opened in London a few months back, and people won’t stop yammering about it.

After countless times seeing a ginormous queue by it’s door, I decided to give it a go and see how good their pizza could actually be. Hype is one thing, but I’ve had many pizzas, and can claim I know my shit when it comes to cheesy dough. But hype be damned, the Pizza Margherita with Double Mozarella is just wonderful. A huge smorgasbord of springy dough and so much cheese you can tell the Double in Double Mozarella is not a ripoff, this thing was created by Pizza Gods, and as such, it’s worth waiting along the hipsters queuing.

Hype is one thing. Great pizza trumps hype. Such rules govern life.

 

Slimy? Try to eat with your hands. I double dare you.

Satisfying? A remarkable achievement in pizza making. Believe the hype.

 

L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele
125 Stoke Newington Church St, London N16 0UH
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Bravi Ragazzi pizza south london italian boscaiola

Bravi Ragazzi – Pizza Boscaiola

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So you’re in Brixton. There’s enough food options to satisfy even the hungriest of them all. No need to improvise. But where’s the fun in that?

Even for something as simple as pizza, sometimes to get to the good stuff it’s worth going a bit further. And that’s how I ended up on a sunny Brixton Sunday, taking a bus out of Brixton and into Streatham. Zone 3. Or as I’ve called it before: The Wasteland.

 

Bravi Ragazzi pizza south london italian boscaiola

And there it was, Bravi Ragazzi, a small and cute little pizzeria that had been on my radar for ages. But why go so far for just a pizza? Well, my fellow reader, this isn’t “just a pizza”. First of all, their pizzas are huge. Second, the dough will appear in all your subsequent pizza dreams (I have a pizza dream three times a week. Like clockwork). And third, this Boscaiola pizza, with tomato, mozzarella, mushrooms and ham was so extraordinary, that I’ve just sent an email to the manager to see if I can quit my job and open another branch of Bravi closer to my house in the north.

Bravi Ragazzi pizza south london italian boscaiola

Until then, I guess I’ll have to keep going south. At least I’ll know it will be worth it…

Bravi Ragazzi pizza south london italian boscaiola

Slimy? Thin crust, gooey cheese, much slime

Satisfying? Can a small pizzeria ever be bad? Yes it can. This one isn’t. This one rocks.

 

Bravi Ragazzi
2a SunnyHill Rd, London SW16 2UH
http://braviragazzipizzeria.co.uk/
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Pizzeria Pappagone finsbury park london italian pizza north london

Pizzeria pappagone – Quattro Stagioni

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What makes a place “your local”? What is it that turns a restaurant from just another joint up your alley, to THE place you somehow always end up eating at?

Well, I’m not sure. Heck, most people would just call their corner kebab shop their “local”. All I know is, for me, living in the Finsbury Park area (until my landlord goes crazy or something, which could happen any minute), there’s one and only local place: Pizzeria Pappagone.

Pizzeria Pappagone finsbury park london italian pizza north london

I can smell it from here

Pass it by any night. It is always hustling and bustling. Packed to the rim, and with enviable character (I’m pretty sure all the staff is italian, and they sure know their stuff), it’s more than just a restaurant. It’s an Italian experience.

Pizzeria Pappagone finsbury park london italian pizza north london

Getting closer…

My last visit was on a Monday, and yes, it was full. But thankfully, that made no difference in the quality of their pizzas. Going for the Quattro Stagioni, I “stuffa my face” (their words, not mine) with mozzarella, ham, spicy salamy, some shrooms and olives. As good as it was, trust me: it doesn’t matter which pizza you order. They are all good. They are all massive. They all feel traditionally Italian.

Pizzeria Pappagone finsbury park london italian pizza north london

EVEN CLOSER!!

Why haven’t I written about this place before then? Because I always forgot to take pictures. That’s just how good these pizza pies are.

 

Slimy? They do put a lot of mozza. And that is just the way I like my pizzas

Satisfying? If you’re not satisfied and happy after one of these pizzas, then there’s something wrong with you

 

Pizzeria Pappagone
131 Stroud Green Rd, London N4 3PX
www.pizzeriapappagone.co.uk/
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Arancini Brothers – Lemon Chicken with Arancini Balls Wrap

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Let’s talk about balls. Not enough people talk about balls, and I feel we should talk about balls more often. There’s nothing wrong with balls, let alone with eating balls. Eating balls should not be frowned upon, and I’m proud to eat balls.

Arancini balls, that is. Balls made of rice and bread crumbs, stuffed with cheese and then fried. These can be had on their own with dips, or inside of a wrap. Because you can put anything on a wrap. I once put spaghetti on a wrap. True story.

And that’s the specialty at Arancini Brothers, a nice spot in Camden. They serve balls. And I had my balls with some lemon chicken, some salad for good measure (or “healthy balance” as I would put it) and covered in a massive wrap.

That messy cheesy thing at the bottom is a pre-chewed ball. Arancini Brothers - Lemon Chicken with Arancini Balls Wrap

That messy cheesy thing at the bottom is a pre-chewed ball

So how does it feel? Well, you bite and it feels like any other chicken wrap, until OH MY LORD CHEESY GOODNESS kicks in, when you suddenly chew on one of these mighty cheeseballs. They are so flavorful and full of cheesiness that it makes them impossible to resist, and thankfully there’s plenty balls in each wrap to replicate that feeling over and over.

Maybe next time I’ll have them separately. Balls and nothing else. But wrapping balls certainly works. For now, it has given me an excuse to use the word balls 18 times. And that is indeed a good cause.

Slimy? Balls filled with cheese and then fried. Slimyness is self explanatory.

Satisfying? A flavour explosion comes with every bite of those gooey balls.

 

Arancini Brothers
115 Kentish Town Rd, London NW1 8PB
Website
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Pizzeria Apollo – Diavola

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Diavolo. El Diablo. The Devil. Satan. Belzebub. Mother in law. Many names, for the same, demonic being. One needs all the help you can get in order to fend off its charms. It’s spicy, spicy charms. You’ve seen it in menus before. In pizzas all over the world. Diavolo has always been a word for caution. Try if you dare. That kind of scary warning is not for the faint of heart.

What is one to do? I guess you could do much worse than enlisting the help of Apollo, the God of (according to Wikipedia, I sure didn’t know this) “music, truth and prophecy, healing, the sun and light, plague, poetry, and more”. And that’s where Pizzeria Apollo comes in, by crafting a deliciously devilish take on the classic Diavola recipe, which is indeed very, very spicy, but also so deliciously baked that you won’t care too much.

They might be hidden, but trust me, loads of chilli in there! Pizzeria Apollo - Diavola

They might be hidden, but trust me, loads of chilli in there!

A recent newcomer to the Hackney foodie scene, Pizzeria Apollo comes thundering down from Olympus with the thinnest crust you can possibly imagine, and some very strong and flavorful ingredients (spicy sausage, mozzarella and some evil, EVIL chilli), make for some damn fine Italian cuisine.

So next time you’re in Hackney, hankering for some spicy Italian times, head to Apollo for some fiery good ones.

Slimy? Or, should I say, Spicy? Yes, very spicy! Also very slimy. But yes, spicy indeed.

Satisfying? Worthy of Zeus, Poseidon, Hades… the whole gang.

 

Pizzeria Apollo
160 Stoke Newington High Street, London N16 7JL
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Franco Manca – Pizza Specials of the Day

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Pizza is considered in many cultures the highest technological advancement in food. It’s delicious, you can eat it with your hands, and it’s available in crappy (but oh so very simple) delivery methods and on fancy (but oh so expensive and posh) restaurants. There’s greatness to be found on both pizza types, but you can only get fancy ingredients when you sit down at the latter.

Which makes Franco Manca, and their now huge chain of restaurants, such a good choice. From their humble beginnings at Brixton Village, now there seems to be a Franco Manca on every corner, almost becoming, God forbid, the new Pizza Express. But what can I say? Their pizzas do taste delicious, and I’ve eaten in more than one of their branches. And this branch is their newest one, in Soho, where pizza competition abounds.

Had to try a slice before taking a picture... Franco Manca - Pizza Specials of the Day London Food

One slice for you, the rest for me. Garfield style.

They claim their secret is the sourdough base they use. I have no idea what that means, and I don’t really care. It just tastes good, and, for less than £10 you can get any of the pizzas they have. Which is why we went for the specials of the day, one which included lamb sausage and fancy cheese, the other with some fancy named mushrooms and NO TOMATO, which would usually be considered sacrilege, but not in this case.

And thus I spent a beautiful sunny day in an incredibly dark underground dining room in Soho, which sounds terrible, aside from the fact that both pizzas were outstanding. And now I wish this chain keeps their inevitable expansion and opens one in my street. Maybe even two.

Slimy? Pizzas are slimy by default. But a good pizza is one you can eat with your hands. You could even bathe yourself with a slice of this one and it would still hold its form.

Satisfying? It’s all about that base, ’bout that base…

 

Franco Manca
51 Brewick St, W1F 8SJ (and pretty much everywhere else)
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