Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Pizza East meets West

As my chief eating companion has temporarily moved out West to Ealing, we're taking the opportunty to discover places that we'd never normally go to.

One of those places is Pizza East which we would normally have gone to in Shoreditch but as it's just opened in Portobello, we thought we'd check out the locals up West.

Walking up Portobello Road at a time when the market is closed is a new experience and slightly disturbing, given the number of shops that are now empty and the signs in those still open demanding that the influx of chains should be stopped. As I know of one tenant who is walking away from a successful business following a rent increase by a greedy landlord, I don't understand how such huge amounts of money can be asked of small businesses, or even justified in the midst of a recession. But that's another story

Pizza East (West) has taken over the corner site of what was the Fat Badger pub. Beautifully fitted with what looks like the original floor and some of the original tiling, Soho House has done a great job in making the space into a beautiful neighbourhood restaurant. Occupied by the beautiful people of West London, many of whom appear to be continental, Pizza East (West) has a very continental feel about it. Seating at the bar, lots of small tables next to each other, seating outside...it all works very well.

The service wasn't brilliant (but they had only opened 3 days prior to our visit and had a kitchen fire in the process so I can't complain too much) and the waiting staff were nice enough. We counted six chefs in the pizza preparation area which looked big enough to hold just two so there's obviously a big learning curve in place!

The food was good and I'm sure will get better as everyone gets to grips with things. We started with some deep fried aubergine which was good albeit a little undercooked. Followed by two pizzas; Portobello mushroom, taleggio and oregano pizza, and courgette flower, ricotta and marjoram. The latter came without ricotta which was a fairly major big oversight and overall both were good, if a little too much of a doughy crust (well I did live in Italy for 3 years so you have to expect me to pick holes!).  And then a salted caramel tart which was calorie ridden and very very nice.

One clever thing that they have done is to make more use of the woodfired oven with dishes such as slow-roasted whole baked salmon, whole beef fillet or whole pork belly, which looked really good

Pizzas are around the £8-£10 mark which is acceptable. Wine seemed very expensive - particularly as they serve it in 50cl carafes so you seem to be paying a full bottle price for only 2/3 the amount.

BUT it's a nice place, the food is pretty good and if it was this good in the first week, it's going to be really good in a few week's time!

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