The vibe When news of the latest opening from the ever-expanding Soho House empire started surfacing, many a west Londoner cleared their diary and headed straight for what was formerly the Fat Badger pub at the northern end of Portobello Road.
The signs from the opening couple of weeks are that this new venture is set to be as much a runaway hit as the original Shoreditch branch of Pizza East that opened in 2009.
The restaurant is a master class in laid back chic, with the main dining room an eclectic looking mix of old-school looking white tiling, vintage furniture and NY style industrial light fittings. So far, so cool!
On the night I visited, the crowd was a young and ever so lively gathering of W11 hipsters, looking very pleased with themselves to have scored a table at what is currently a non-reservations restaurant. With that in mind, my tip is to get in early, and hang on to the table as long as possible! The staff are fantastic – super friendly, with an encyclopedic knowledge of the menu and ever so quick to point out their favourite cocktails!
Food and Drink Start out the evening with a few plates of classic Italian antipasti. We went for plates of the aubergine fritti, char-grilled squid, and asparagus with pecorino, the last being a stand out example of how to put simple ingredients together to create something heavenly! There is a small list of mains that cover trusty standards such as lasagne and crisp pork belly, but any evening here would be wasted by ignoring the central reason for its existence – the pizza’s! London, like New York, is a city spoilt for choice in where to grab a slice, but Pizza East definitely raises the bar and sets a new standard. The light, airy, but crisp pizza base is unlike any other I’ve eaten, and the list of what to top it with uses the very best in Italian ingredients. I plumped for the portobello mushroom, taleggio and oregano version, and was very happy with my choice; the soft, almost fruity tasting cheese was perfectly partnered with the plump mushrooms and herbs. Pizza heaven. I still however, couldn’t keep from stealing a slice from the plate of my dining companion, hers being the combo of courgette flower, ricotta and marjoram. Mine was pretty perfect, but the fact that hers was even better pretty much sent me to pizza heaven!
All this deliciousness deserves a gorgeous drink to accompany it – and with the restaurants wine list focusing largely on moderately priced and handsome tasting Italian varieties, you’d be hard pushed to not find something you’ll love. Do not, however, ignore the little list of cocktails – we started our evening with a perfectly composed Negroni. And things just got better and better from there.
Details Pizza East Portobello, 310 Portobello Road, W10 5TA. T: 0208 969 4500
By Jaye Thompson