There are plenty of places to get a brilliant pizza in London now, and constant debate around which is the best. Is it Homeslice with their gigantic pies to share? Or Naples’ very own export, L’Antica Pizzeria de Michele? I haven’t tried all of these rivals yet, but I can put in a well researched and firm vote for Pizza Pilgrims certainly being up there among the best.
One of London’s original street food vans to bricks and mortar success stories, there are now half a dozen Pizza Pilgrims restaurants over the city – a chain has formed. We’re seeing this happen a lot with our favourite street food places now, and the worry is whether the food we’ve grown to love, served out of a van in a car park, will stay the same. Switching from a small operation to building up an array of restaurants runs a risk of losing both the personality and quality of the business. Being a returning customer over the years, I’m impressed with the consistency of both of these factors: Pizza Pilgrims have succeeded.
Pizzas are of the Neapolitan style and made with as many ingredients local to Italy as can be. Flour is shipped from Naples istelf; the two different types of mozzarella are shipped from Caserta twice a week; their nduja arrives weekly from Calabria. Even the source of their basil has a kind of romance to it – it’s from down the road at Berwick Street market, the location of Pizza Pilgrims’ first foray into the food world. Quality ingredients are paramount, particularly in Italian cooking, and it is clear the level of care that continues to go into this side of the business, nearly six years on from them serving their first pizza. The result is the perfect pizza – better than some I’ve had in Italy, even. Puffed up crusts surrounding a sweet tomato base, oozing with mozzarella. It smells incredible.
There are a few changes to the menu between locations: their fantastic arancini wasn’t on the Dean Street menu last week, for which I wept, but in a genius move they’ve added crust dippers. If you can’t choose between pesto aioli, gorgonzola and garlic or smoked chilli jam mascarpone, they’re only two quid each so cut your decision making anxiety in half and get more than one. I’ll help you out further – whichever pizza you opt for (though I always seem to go for the salami with added nduja – highly recommend), add on buffalo mozzarella for an extra £2.75. It makes for a messier pizza but it’s totally worth it, and all the best food is messy anyway. Wine comes by the carafe (even the prosecco) and sides and desserts are kept simple – the main event here is the pizza and Pilgrims are devoted to delivering their specialty well and without distractions.
The story behind Pizza Pilgrims is a great one, and as you read about the brothers’ pint fueled agreement to give the street food scene a go, through to their six week pilgrimage around Italy in the name of research, you can’t help but cheer them on. Good job we can continue to do so, because Pizza Pilgrims are still serving up banging pizza to punters queuing out the door, no matter how much they’ve grown.