Despite the name, Pizza East has become a true west London institution since it set up shop on Portobello Road. A modern take on the classic pizzeria, with a traditional wood-fired oven at its heart, the two-level restaurant has steadily drawn swathes to people to its Notting Hill enclave with the lure of brunch, lunch and dinner.
Styled as a restaurant and deli, the two-level space was swarming with young couples and families alike when we visited. The entire space was designed by Martin Brudnizki, who has lined the restaurant with distressed tiling, electric blue seating and low hanging pendant lights. The ground floor is centered around the aforementioned exposed stone oven — from which freshly baked pizzas and other roasted and baked dishes emerge, such as crispy pork belly with tomato and mushrooms — as well as a deli counter, where Mediterranean cheeses and cured meats are laid out. Upstairs the atmosphere is a little sexier, with low lighting and a centrepiece bar.
We ordered two pizzas: one topped with portobello mushrooms, tomato, fontina, oregano, and the other with spicy sausage, mozzarella, broccoli, seen in the video above. They were accompanied by side orders of garlic bread, gorgonzola and walnut croquettes, and a serving of burrata from the counter menu. The garlic bread was a giant hunk of goodness, glistening with flavoursome garlicky oil. Stodgy and pillowy at the same time, it was delectably moreish and its order was almost immediately regretted as we tucked in leaving no room for the pizzas ahead. The croquettes, though flawless and bursting with flavour within their crunchy shells, were sadly overlooked in the totality of this carb-fest.
The pizzas tasted as good as any you would find in a Neopolitan pizzeria. The thin bases had a pleasingly crispy crust (as opposed the chewy rim you often find in the UK). The chefs’ indiscriminate approach to placing cheese, tomato sauce and other toppings on the ten inch bases with wild abandon not only results in an aesthetically pleasingly ‘ungroomed’ pizza, but one where every mouthful is slightly different: a bit more sausage, a little less broccoli, etc, etc. It was all washed down with mojitos; unorthodox perhaps, but Pizza East’s skilled barmen are there to be taken advantage of. We’ll be back this summer to enjoy the terrace and seasonal gelato bar. Buon appetito.
Music by birocratic soundcloud.