London's 5 Best: Margherita Pizza
The ‘Margherita’ is a pizza with royal connections. Named after the Queen Consort of the Kingdom of Italy, Princess Margherita of Savoy, in 1889, it was said to resemble the Italian flag with its melting white cheese, red sauce, and green basil. Well over a century on, its popularity shows no sign of abatement. Herewith, some of London’s best stockists:
When Franco Manca opened in Brixton Market in 2008, its Margherita – or the No. 2 – cost below five quid. Seven years and some serious expansion later, the pizza, made with FM’s own mozzarella produced in Somerset, is still the best bargain in London at £5.90. The 24 hour fermentation process of the dough makes the most digestible – and delicious – of bases, so have a long, hard think bout whether you really want to leave that crust.
Address: Unit 4, Market Row, London SW9 8LD
Santa Maria, a pocket-sized pizzeria in Ealing, was voted Number 1 in Evening Standard’s ‘Top 10 Pizzas to Try Before You Die’. The Santa Margherita comes in at £6.95 and lives up to the billing, a great flying saucer of a pizza with a super-thin crust that is properly blistered by the heat of the wood-fired oven. The addition of Parmesan to the holy triumvirate of tomato, basil, and mozzarella goes down nicely.
Address: 15 Saint Mary’s Road, Ealing, London W5 5RA
Brothers James and Thom Eliot spent two weeks training under some of the top pizzaolos in Campania, and five weeks touring Italy in search of the perfect pizza, before bringing their findings to London in the form of Pizza Pilgrims. If you’re after a truly authentic Neapolitan pie, these are your guys: the mozzarella is fior di latte (cow’s milk cheese) and the dough is kneaded (but not rolled) so that it is soft and supple rather than crisp. Very competitively priced at £6.5.
Address: 11 Dean Street, London W1D 3RP
Okay, so it’s not entirely authentic, but at Pizza East you’ll find mozzarella di bufala (the more expensive kind) on the Margherita, rather than fior di latte. Usually this would mean that fresh rather than cooked tomatoes are used on the base, as the less structured and milkier buffalo milk cheese can get a bit soupy on top of the red sauce. But this slick operation can carry it off, even if the pizza is a little more expensive – that’ll be the buffalo mozzarella – at £8.00.
Address: 56 Shoreditch High Street, London E1 6JJ
Bread enthusiasts will already know and love E5 Bakehouse, a formidable bakery operation housed under a railway arch just a stone’s throw from London Fields. It is to bread what Clarence Court is to eggs, or Ivy House Farm is to cream. Nobody does it better. So when on Sundays you hear that they make pizza with a bona fide Italian chef (from Ravenna) at the helm, you know you need to hotfoot it. This is pizza worth its dough.
Address: Arch 395, Mentmore Terrace, London E8 3PH
Image courtesy of Jeffreyw