|Looks good but looks are deceiving|
Saturday, March 31, 2012
Pizza Pilgrims, 29th March
I was very excited to try Pizza Pilgrims after all the buzz about it I'd seen on Twitter etc. It was even half the reason I took yesterday off work as I knew I couldn't get down there from King's cross on my lunch hour, which is the only time they're serving.
I had only recently heard that there was a street food scene on Berwick Street but found it soon enough by following the trail of pizza eaters. This is where I had my first disappointment. In my heart, what I'm probably always seeking is pizza to rival an American slice (though perhaps less dangerous for your arteries) and I could see that these were individual pizzas. There's a very commendable reason for this though - they make all the pizzas in front of you as you wait. It's a great set up - these three guys who apparently have toured Italy to learn and perfect the secrets of creating authentic Italian pizza. They have a counter where they make the pie, and then an oven in a van where they cook it. I watched them take the dough, knead it out and hand spin it in the air to create the base. And then they topped it, while in the background played some toe-tapping inducing folksy banjo-type music.
So far so good. They had three kinds on offer - a margarita at £5, salami at £6 and courgette and garlic also at £6. My second disappointment - nduja, which they seemed to have for their first week and which sounded amazing, wasn't on the menu. I ordered the salami. I could have added chilli and/or rocket to the pizza, both of which I like, and I would have been tempted to do so, but at an extra 50p each, it seemed a bit too much. £6 for a pizza seems more than enough without having to pay extra for ingredients like salad leaves. Disappointing.
About 5 minutes later my pizza was ready and I took it to eat in the sun. This was my fourth and final disappointment. I was about halfway through my first quarter when I realised I hadn't been concentrating on how my pizza tasted. This says something in itself. I think, that when food tastes great, it seizes your attention, without you having to focus on it consciously. This didn't. I chided myself for being distracted by the streets of Soho and turned my mind to the pizza. The base was crispy, and the dough was chewy. I thought it actually a bit too chewy and by the time I was down to the last quarter my jaw was aching. (Though, according to my boyfriend I chew too much, so perhaps this is something that will rarely afflict others.)
But I can handle knackering in my jaw to get through something I consider too delicious not to finish. Unfortunately, I was underwhelmed by the rest of the pizza. The tomato base didn't have much flavour to it. The salami was perfectly nice and a little crispy which was a nice touch, but it didn't save it, especially as there was only a little of it. The best moments were when I bit into a part that had a lovely fresh basil leaf on it. Then my mouth had a burst of freshness and flavour. But again, these bites were few and far between. On a Homeslice pizza it doesn't matter because the 'canvas' by itself is so good. In this case, the rest of the pizza was just, meh. So, as far as I'm concerned, Homeslice is the unchallenged titleholder of best pizza in London. It's a shame it wasn't on my List when I ate there because that means I didn't review it. But it's amazing - great big slices, two for a fiver. I've had plain margarita and some with toppings and they're all equally fabulous.
Now, I think I may sound like either a bit of a snob here, or not enough of one, but I've noticed over the years that 'authentic' isn't all it's cracked up to be and perhaps Pizza Pilgrims is suffering from this phenomenon. Something being authentic sounds great, but then when you taste it, you realise that what you eat on a regular basis may not be authentic, but it has been improved to the point where it's tasty. And taste is what counts for me. Turkish kebabs for example - love them over here. Went to Turkey and found the kebabs there were pretty rank and bulked out with french fries. Mexican food also - my favourite food and I can't get enough of Wahaca. My friends however, recently went to Mexico and said the worst thing about it was the food. And now finally, pizza. Maybe real authentic Italian pizza just doesn't equate to best?
I have a feeling I'm probably a lone voice on this one, so don't crucify me, but I sadly won't be going back to Pizza Pilgrims. The guys themselves seemed lovely though!