"It's not much but it's ours"

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Listen, there’s no secret to a good Pizza: decent dough, not too much topping and an oven set to 11. Even cack-handed me has managed it at least once in my sorry-assed life. But you’d think making one was akin to squaring the circle the way some folk go on about it. Show me a Pizza bore and I’ll show you somebody who needs a decent hunk of protein in their life.

So then, Hermano, how come you ended up in Pizza East ? Huh ? Huh ? Simple, mi amigo, it was a dark and stormy, er, Saturday lunchtime and it was the nearest restaurant to Casa DH that we hadn’t already written about.

I’d only once been in the space that Pizza East now occupies when it was the completely forgettable T Bar. PE is a little more interesting. It’s all butch Manhattan loft style with exposed pillars and industrial-strength fittings but somehow still manages to be warm. I like very much. Something I didn’t like very much were the hoards of Happy Nappy Valley Families.

Fresh from terrorising innocent French tourists in Borough Market with their McLaren strollers (weren’t these supposed to be returned) they had now moved en masse to Pizza East and unleashed their little Jeroboams and Canastas on an unsuspecting pie-eating restaurant-goer, viz me.

Now I have no problem with kids in restaurants. My own nephew and niece have been eating with their parents since they were babies and their behaviour at table is impeccable. Here, however, it was as if the parents had deemed the restaurant a suitable venue for their spawn to express themselves and awaken their creatively which took the form of running around and screaming like banshees. It was like something out Cyra McFadden’s very funny book The Serial. Except I wasn’t laughing.

Eventually and inevitably there were tears and so all the nuclear units had to sod off and were replaced by a smattering of much quieter couples and groups who had wisely decided that de-cluttering could wait until another day. Then, and only then could I sit back and glug a glass of draught Prosecco with some fat green olives with a smattering of Almonds.

Speaking of which, this thing with the tumblers is getting out of hand. I want to drink my wine out of a proper glass not some thick glass mug. I saw proper flutes being used at another table so presumably they are available if you ask. I think this is some sort of cost saving measure which made sense when my food came.

It’s been a while since I last had a pizza in a restaurant but when did they get so expensive ? Save for two of the simplest varieties, all PE’s examples all came in at, or over the ten pound mark which for a few pence of dough and a quids worth of topping is a pretty blatant way of funding ones overheads.

The pizza itself, the Duck Sausage, was ok. The dough whilst it had charred and bubbled in an authentic manner was oddly tasteless. The clumps of minced meat didn’t taste particularly ducky and as the pizza was cooling the cheese coalesced unattractively. But it tasted, well, like pizza.

Starters were poor. Fried Calamari hadn’t been given a protective cover and ended up greasy – and not in a good way. It was also pretty chewy too. The accompanying aioli was more like a timid tartar sauce.

They’d tried to ape the St John dish with my other starter but the three thin halves of Bone Marrow (why not four ?) yielded very little marrow and the parsley salad was a sad joke. The bread was just wrong. Avoid.

Three big scoops of Gelato for dessert had a nice texture and tasted of the advertised ingredients but in a slightly odd way as if the they hadn’t been properly incorporated. So Mint and Chocolate Chip tasted as if you were eating raw leaves of Spearmint with shards of cooking chocolate and the Crème Fraiche one as if you were gulping spoonfuls of the stuff from a carton. Not especially nasty, just a bit odd. Pistachio was a lot better.

Objectively, the food is pretty mediocre at Pizza East but I ended up rather enjoying myself. The service was very friendly and accommodating, I liked the space and a combination of carbs and alcohol always seems to put people in a better mood than a salad. I rolled out of there quite happy.

Try and think of it then, as a place for people who believe they’ve outgrown Pizza Express and need to go to somewhere more gourmet. They probably don’t of course but then where’s the harm in catering to those people ?

For myself, well, after many years of denial I’m gradually coming round to HS’s view that it’s all just a load of snot on toast.

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Blogger Libby said...

I comepletely agree with you about the tumblers of wine. I'm no wine snob but I do like to drink my wine out of a wine glass!

and as far as the food goes, you're right - it's mediocre and expensive, yet I still find myself wanting to go back, because I did enjoy myself. I think we're paying more for the atmosphere and service than the food.

Saturday, November 28, 2009 10:47:00 am  
Anonymous Katie said...

When T bar closed down, I was really looking forward to something exciting opening in that space, and it was a bit disappointing that all they did was open an overpriced pizza restaurant. Although it's great that they got the service and atmosphere right, it sounds as though it really isn't worth a visit. I will stick to Stringrays on Columbia Road for my carb fix!

Saturday, November 28, 2009 11:19:00 am  
Blogger Greedy Diva said...

Loved your review. I thought the pizza here was better than mediocre - for pizza. But, sounds like the other dishes could do with some work.

Give me a steaming hot bowl of pasta any day, but still think this is the best pizza I've sampled in London behind Franco Manca. Agree the fun atmosphere is a big part of the draw card. Pity about the devil's spawn.

Saturday, November 28, 2009 1:01:00 pm  
Blogger Graphic Foodie said...

Personally I can't think of anything better than a great pizza and wine out of a tumbler. In most traditional Italian trattorias (not the themed ones for the tourists and expensive restaurants masked as them for "charm") you will be served wine out of tumblers.

Pizza never was and never should be treated as a gourmet meal. When people try and shoehorn it into such an experience it is just as cringeworthy as being served toad in the hole in a Michelin starred restaurant.

Sometimes food should just be enjoyed and I couldn't disagree with you more about pizza being snot on toast!

Monday, November 30, 2009 9:31:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

with regard to your "why not four?" comment on the bone marrow, on "Master chef the Professionals" (renamed as master chef - now i know why so many meals out end in utter disappointment), i noticed that Michel Roux constantly berated people for serving things in even mumbers on the grounds that odd numbers were more attractive. anyone who served their scallops / chicken / prawns in 3 or 5 pieces was praised highly.

i hadn't thought about it before - i'm not sure it makes much sense either.

i never know why most dim sum is served in 3 and prawn har gau in 4. life is full of mysteries.

Monday, November 30, 2009 12:37:00 pm  
Blogger theundergroundrestaurant said...

Odd numbers: as all gardeners know, you plant in odd numbers, it is more attractive and looks naturally wild.
I've been hearing a load of puff about Pizza East...I completely agree on the expense of pizzas nowadays, it's ridiculous.
It doesn't sound as bad as that awful place I went to off Brick Lane 'story' with a wafer thin crispbread as a base, for the price of £12. Was starving, it was cold, and the service was obnoxiously casual.

Monday, November 30, 2009 5:45:00 pm  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

Well I'm sure that's the explanation the restaurant would use but in that case why not five halves ? Oh, I know, they wouldn't have been able to have squeeze any more dosh out of a very cheap raw material.


Monday, November 30, 2009 6:46:00 pm  
Blogger theundergroundrestaurant said...

You look remarkably feminine in your profile pic.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009 3:08:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not like this place, the pizza is extremely greasy and oily and the starters are of poor quality.

I have eaten here three times and tiwce they got my order wrong, once it was the fault of the waiting staff who clearly did not care to listen to ur request when ordering and the other was when the chef 'forgot' to put meat on our meat pizza.

I suggest you avoid this place. The wine was overpriced and uninspired. Putting it in tumblers reminds me of somewhere else they are perhaps trying to copy (foodies write in your suggestions here).

The desert was unpleasant to eat and finally, how expensive should bread and cheese cost?

Thursday, July 22, 2010 7:28:00 pm  
Anonymous Jade said...

I agree pizza shouldnt be seen as more than what it is but it still has to taste good!

And wine in a tumbler is ridiculous , I dont care if jesus himself did it , its not right.

Thursday, November 17, 2011 1:03:00 pm  

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