30 September 2012
When it comes to food I'm down with experimentation. For example, I like chips with mayo and ketchup, and there are few things that can't be improved by the addition of Worcestershire sauce.
But perfection is just that, and I don't care if you're Chris Bianco or Mr Domino – you keep your pizzas simple, just as the Italians intended. What I don't expect is someone to put a porchetta on it, sliced up and laid across the pizza like some kind of upper-class kebab meat.
But that's what I ate at the new PizzaEast restaurant in Kentish Town. Maybe it was on purpose – maybe it was meant to be a bastardisation of the Turkish pizza, but surely – surely – someone during the taste testing would have turned to the chef and said: “I mean, it's ok. But don't you think it's a bit much? Aren't there better things we can do with a crap load of pork and supposedly the best pizza in London?”
The answer would have been that yes, yes there are. A thousand better things. This pizza smacks of being one person's brilliant idea and someone else's nightmare. Wrapping up a pizza in meat isn't always a bad idea – with salty, delicate proscuitto it's glorious. And that's on the menu and I'm sure it's very good.
The main problem was that the porchetta (see the pic) was everywhere, but was super dry, borderline tasteless and completely devoid of the mandatory stuffing – unless you count the rosemary, which smacks you around the face about halfway through each bite. It's not that they used too much, it was that it had no other flavours to compete with.
To be fair the pizzas themselves are very good. I had to eat some of the sauce on its own so the rosemary didn't bowl me over, and it's a well-made sauce, and the slow-proved sourdough is excellent – so crispy you get microcuts on the roof of your mouth that last for days. In a good way.
And their beer list, as with all trendy London chains, is pretty good. It stocks Camden Town Brewery beers, although not the Wheat beer, which should be a no-brainer to go with the pizza. However, the Pale Ale does a great job of cutting through the big, bold flavours – although it couldn't quite cut through the rosemary onslaught.
One look at the menu tells you PizzaEast's management know a lot about good sourcing and Italian ingredients – and our starters of creamy burrata and beautiful lamb meatballs in an arrabiata sauce proved that. It's just a shame that they have taken the ingredients and none of its values. If you're headed there you'll have to be the philosopher – when choosing a dish, less is more.