I was strongly critised by my Italian friends (most of which are from Naples, where the pizza was invented) that pizza was completely absent from my blog so far.
This is basically explained by the fact that for me, pizza is absolutely neglectable so I would never dream of ordering itÂ if I can avoid it, let alone go to a dedicated pizzeria.
Gladly, they did not give up in trying to convince me otherwise and they organised an outing to Santore at Exmouth Market which is – according to them – one of the few places where you can get authentic Napolese pizza in London. Apparently the chefs and staff are from Naples and also the ingredients they use are imported from there.
Santore does convey some Italian atmosphere, especially with the outside dining area which makes you feel like you were eating on an Italian piazza. Also the menu sounded very Italian to me and the choice of dishes did not seem to be adapted too much the the non-Italian palate. I thought the pasta dishes sounded fantastic and I wantedÂ to basically try all of them but I had no choice but the go for the pizza (or lose a couple of friends…).
In addition to the conventional round pizza, the pizza can be ordered by the metre. This is firstly very impressive, secondly it’s sociable and the best thing really is that you can try many different pizze without needing to steal food from other people’s plates.
Despite my prejudices against pizza in general I found the version served at Santore really delightful. We tried four different sorts on our metre of pizza made with perfectly thinÂ and tasty if maybe not quite crispy enough dough.
The Pizza Napoletana (7.95) with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella as well as capers, anchovies and olives (7.95) provided a perfect balance between dough, tomatoes and the saltiness of the anchovies and capers.
The Bufalina (9.95) with fresh buffalo mozzarella and generous fresh basil leaves (9.95) was the prettiest of them all, you suddenly know where the colours of the Italian flag must really come from. The mozzarella was ripe and flavoursome and fresh basil is heavenly anyway, so this was a clear success.
The Rustica (9.45) with friarielli and salsiccia (a typical dish from Naples) won the prize for being the most unusual and interesting of the lot. It is not often that I am faced with ingredients that I have never come across, but I really have never eaten or even heard of friarielli. It is related to broccoli but fortuntaly does not taste of broccoli at all. It has a very distinct slightly bitter and peppery taste and I thought it was very moreish. The salsiccia were not the best I have ever tasted but subtly flavoured enough to not overpower the friarilli. I definitely would have this one again.
The least convincing for me was the Pizza Siciliana (8.45) with tomato, mozzarella and sauteed aubergines with parmesan- even though I love aubergines, they seemed a too moist and heavy topping for the thin dough and ended up making it a bit soggy. It still tasted very nice though.
All in all I have to say that I might not have become a complete pizza convert overnight but I did very much enjoy the meal and I think I could be persuaded to go back to Santore…
I have to add, in case you think I am not the best person to judge a pizzeria (you might be right there), that I have interrogated my Italian friends very closely and they all gave the pizza 7 or 8 out of 10 indicating that Santore might not quite have Naples standard but seems to be pretty close. So if you don’t believe me, believe them!
- Food: 7.5/10
- Atmosphere: 6.5/10
- Service: 6/10
- Value for money: 7.5/10
- Chances of returning: 50%
- Verdict: I don’t know if it is the best pizza in London but it’s pretty darn good!