The reason why I must be the last person with any kind of interest in food, who has never been to Pizza East before is that I usually don’t like pizza. Out of the blue however I was overwhelmed by a sudden pizza craving and Pizza East seemed like an obvious choice.
I took my friend Uyen with me, which usually doesn’t bode well (our last few meals together were highly disappointing, such as at Ceviche or Hix at the Albemarle or Mele e Pere). Thankfully, Pizza East broke our bad food spell.
Pizza East is a trendy American Italian restaurant which is part of the Soho House venture and has opened the first of its two outposts in 2009 on Shoreditch High Street. Don’t go to Pizza East for authentic Italian, it couldn’t be further from this, but in this exceptional case this is not necessarily a bad thing.
If you want comfort food to affordable prices in a hip atmosphere surrounded by City as well as East London dwellers, this might just be the place for you (and I can’t believe I have missed out all these years!). What you get are excellent pizze, lovely vegetables, inventive sides and much more that we haven’t tried (but surely will in the future)
Walking through the inconspicuous and shabby doors in the ground floor of Shoreditch House, I was impressed by the enormous and high-ceilinged open space furnished only with wood and steel retaining some of its original industrial atmosphere. We met for dinner early and I was amazed how quickly the restaurant filled up (apparently Pizza East has 177 seatings).
The menu at Pizza East offers a curious mixture of dishes and cuisines. In addition to conventional pizze you find creations with veal meatballs, spicy sausage and scamorza. Want mac ‘n cheese? You get it at Pizza East. Pork Belly? Veal Bone Marrow? Cesar Salad? No problem. In between these American or European morsels, you find a few traditional Italian dishes and the salad section is excellent with portions more than generous.
The Beetroot Salad (6) was a pleasure. Three kinds of beetroot with different intensities in flavour were intermingled with mild ricotta and some basil (not sorrel) leaves. What I loved about this combination was that each of the flavours could shine and develop beautifully in my mouth. And then the Samphire! If you are a sucker for this coastal plant (like yours truly) you should hurry to Pizza East for this huge portion of lovely salty and crunchy samphire for only 3 quid!
The least convincing dish was the Fried Artichoke with Lemon (4). Although the taste was fine, the artichokes were a bit too dried up and hard little pieces of artichoke leaves got constantly stuck in my throat threatening to suffocate me. Far better the Coppa, Scamorza Pane (5) – pizza dough came filled with cured ham and topped with oozing and melting flavoursome scamorza resulting in an utterly addictive combination of guilty pleasures.
Finally the pizza. For me the Pizza East pizza (we chose my favourite with Buffalo Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil (8)) was good but not mind-blowing (one could however argue that someone who usually doesn’t really like pizza is not the best person to judge pizza). The dough was not light enough (it almost tasted like/had the consistency of containing corn flour) and I could have done with some more mozzarella and fresh basil. Having said that, I demolished it very happily and would certainly chose at least one pizza also at my next visit.
Pizza East won my heart with a simple thing: an enormous glass container filled with chilli flakes on each table. And I loved Pizza East not only for that!
- Food: 8/10
- Service: 7/10
- Ambiance: 8/10 (if you are into loud and hip East London atmosphere that is)
- Value for Money: 7/10
- Chances of Returning: 100%
- Verdict: Comfort food not only for pizza aficionados