Friday, November 20, 2009

Pizza East, Shoreditch, London

Pizza is not exactly my top food choice when visiting London, especially since I live in NYC where pizzerias rank as some of the top culinary institutions. But Pizza East, a brand new restaurant on a busy corner in East London's Shoreditch neighborhood, turned out not to be half bad. The large, warehouse like space is situated in the Tea Building and on the first floor of the Shoreditch House which is the East London branch of the famed membership club Soho House. The design is pretty cool: industrial themed, with an open kitchen, a large wrap around bar and wooden tables and chairs strewn throughout the room. The menu reflects the rustic modernist feel of the restaurant: cold, warm and fried antipasti and a dozen or so pizza choices complemented by simple salads. There is also a list of small bites for "counter seating" and wood oven items such as baked lasagna. All looked very appetizing and very fitting with the surroundings.

Our first pizza: spicy sausage, mozzarella, fresh garlic and sprouting broccoli. The crust was sufficiently crispy with a chewy center, though not as good as Co. Pizza in NYC. The sausage was indeed spicy and the saltiness balanced with the bitter sprouting broccoli which tasted like a cross between a broccolini and broccoli rabe.

Our second pizza was apparently their signature dish: clams with tomato, oregano, garlic, chili flakes, pecorino. Unlike the clam pizzas in NYC, here the clams kept their shells on which actually added a briny flavor that was nice. The chili flakes were a nice touch too, giving the pizza a kick at the end, in the back of your throat. It just needed a bit more something...maybe some sauce or more cheese to give it more flavor and substance beyond just the bready crust.

Dessert was cinnamon sugar doughnuts with a valrhona chocolate dip. The chocolate was too bitter and didn't melt right and the doughnut was undercooked and gooey in the wrong way. Not the best way to end a meal.

I liked Pizza East. But I wouldn't come back or recommend the place to visitors...there are too many other things to eat in London. Now, if eating at Pizza East is a ticket to get you into Shoreditch or Soho House, that's a different story all together.

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