Not all too long ago, the Pizza Pilgrims could be found flogging Neapolitan-style pizzas out of the back of their 3-wheeled Piaggio van on Berwick Street in Soho. My how times have changed.
The Pilgrims (brothers Thom and James Elliott) certainly had a busy 2013. Not satisfied with bagging themselves a show on Food Network, telling the story of their food tour around Italy, they then went on to open their very own shiny new pizzeria in Soho.
Fear not though, the van is still in action and can currently be found at, of all places, Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge.
We’d really enjoyed our previous Pilgrims pizzas and were curious to find out what the guys could achieve with some bricks and mortar and a proper oven.
The restaurant gets very busy so we arrived early to avoid having to queue. Unless you like standing around outside I recommend you do the same. However, if there are 6 or more in your group, you’ll be able to book. The place looks small from the outside, but there’s actually room for 45 diners downstairs.
If you don’t like pizza, don’t expect to find alternatives on the menu. This is unashamedly a pizzeria and that’s no bad thing. We kicked off with a rather sizable calzone, filled with Napoli salami, ricotta and mushrooms, and topped with tomato, fior de latte (mozzarella to you and I) and parmesan. I’d never had a calzone with with such a thin crust but it worked really well as it wasn’t too heavy.
Next came the Nduja. It’s basically a margherita with the addition of some spicy Calabrian pork sausage. Unfortunately we felt it didn’t quite measure up to the ones we’ve had from their van. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a really tasty pizza but the sausage didn’t seem quite as fiery as before.
Dessert was a stroke of genius. Nutella Pizza Ring. How could something with that name be anything other than magnificent? Before it arrived, I wasn’t 100% convinced about the addition of ricotta but it worked really well and meant it wasn’t too sweet. I tried to reassure myself that I hadn’t just eaten a pizza for a main, followed by a pizza for dessert but in all honesty I probably had.
Although the pizzas were good, controversially, we didn’t enjoy them quite as much as the ones from the Piaggio. Perhaps this is down to them having to adapt and cater for more of a mass market. I’m not so sure though. Anthony Bourdain says that food always tastes better with sand between your toes. Perhaps that also applies when it’s eaten out of a brown paper bag.
If it’s true that imitation is the greatest form of flattery, the Pilgrims should be very flattered by the influx of ‘Neopolitan’ pizzas suddenly available in and around London. It’s hardly surprising though because in our book it’s a winning formula.
Next time you’re in town and are tempted to go to a pizza chain, think again and head for 11 Dean Street instead. I know I will.
Meal for two including drinks (excluding service) £45
Address: 11 Dean St, London W1D 3RP
Tel: 020 7287 8964