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Restaurant Review – Pizza East in Shoreditch

Pizza East has had its detractors, including me here, but yet I keep revisiting and I am trying to work out why.  
I went again last Friday for a quick work lunch and decided to concentrate and find out why I keep going back.
Our work lunch consisted of two large beers, one shared calamari for a starter (very average) and two pizzas. It was the equivalent price to my standard weekday lunch at Hawksmoor (£40 odd for two) and £20 more than one at Rosas (£20ish for two) … was it is as good as either?
No.
But there is something which still works about Pizza East and I think it is the ease of the experience.  You go there.  It is massive.  You will always get a table.  The service is prompt.  The pizzas are edible.  It is basically a Pizza Express variant. Though I am kind of excited (with a touch of fear) to try Pizza Express later this week/ next week and see whether their L’Anima/ Francesco Mazzei collaberation is edible/ enjoyable (details here). 

Now a lot has been said about their pizzas before. My first thoughts were that they were utter trash not even worthy of being called an imitation of a proper pizza. But I have mellowed. They are, well, ok. The crust is not as it should be. It isn’t even anywhere near where it should be. It’s bubbly nature is not a reinvention of the classic Italian pizza but a slight failure. Notice the pile of crusts my friend left.

The toppings are averageish to interesting.
Basically having been spoilt beyond belief in New York and Italy I find it hard to accept anything which isn’t in that same realm of brilliance.
What I want to know is when is the competition really going to start. When are the artisans really going to move in and start making something real, something proper, something elemental, something brilliant.
Price – £40 for two
Pizza East on Urbanspoon

5 Comments

  1. Mr Noodles

    Not been here yet and from your review, it doesn't sound like its worth a special trip. In your pizza quest, have you been to Franco Manca ? Everyone bangs on about this place and I went there last year (pre-blog). Whilst good (and exceptional value), it wasn't as life changing as people made out.

    I have a pining for pizza now but I'll wait 'til next week when I'm in Zurich on work. There's surprisingly excellent pizza in Switzerland

  2. Mr Noodles

    Just read your Franco Manca review – I take it you weren't impressed ! I also had the new range at Pizza Express last week but I'll wait 'til you post before giving you my opinion. You should rename yourself Mr Pizza.

  3. Tom

    Mr Noodles – if you are in the area and need something practical and fast it is ok… But no, definitely not worth a special trip.

    I wrote that review of Franco Manca after just having got back from NY and couldn't hide my disappointment. It is ok and cheap but nothing special. And nothing to drive me multiple stops down the Victoria line.

    Mr Pizza : ) – only if I lived in Italy. Here one can get sick of the offerings pretty fast. Jen went to Pizza Express and said she was less than impressed. I'll go with suspicion but have a vague hope that I might be pleasantly surprised.

  4. David J

    Did you read Time Out's "Best Pizza" piece? I'm sure you did. I'm curious as to what you think of the winner, as those who have had really good pizza living in this town are few and far between.

  5. Tom

    David – I did read that and, well, I think what it shows is that London doesn't have the depth or level of obsession that NY has with pizza (and I hate to admit that).

    The problem is good pizza is born of obsession. Tinkering with ovens, wood (if possible) and high high heats. We don't seem to have that nature in us as Brits (which is a shame as we are great tinkerers).

    I think the pizza revolution is still to hit here.

    That said I haven't tried their best pizza place and have heard good things about it. To be quite honest I probably won't bother and will wait till I am next in NY or Italy. Till then Turkish pizza will probably suffice.

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