Then Pizza Pilgrim and Homeslice hit the scene and made pizza sexy all over again.
Homeslice has 8 different pizzas on the menu, all at 20 inches and 3 of which they sell by slice at £4 a pop. So... how big is a 20" pizza? Well, it's fucking massive. It's half a metre in diameter - like the width of your pillow, or those lorry tyres, or the depth of your desk... it's just colossal.
The bad news is, the more exciting pizzas are only offered as a whole one. The good news is, you could go half-half. I recommend going as a group of 4 for best results.
Absolutely torn between the options - I could imagine the creamy, melty ricotta with mushroom; I was curious about the fishy mackerel pizza. But in the end, we all salivated at the thought of oxtail and bone marrow.
Oxtail & Horseradish Cream
The pizza was beautifully charred at edges to show off its brittle crispiness, with the edges kept evenly thin - just how I like it. Thin and doughy in the middle (probably not so crispy at the bottom though) topped with stretchy cheese and a smear of tomato sauce.
The right side of the pizza was dotted with lumps of slow cooked oxtail that was so tender it barely held its shape; the horseradish cream was quite runny, together with some peppery basil, they gave a gentle kick to ease off the richness. What a pizza.
Bone Marrow, Watercress & Spring Onion
The other side of the pizza took richness to a new level. I don't think I have even seen so much bone marrow on a dish, well, a menu item, you know what I mean. The combination of flavours and textures was phenomenal; the chewy dough, melty bone marrow, tangy watercress, crunchy spring onion and the tone from the bovine grease - boom!
I fell in love with Homeslice.
Pizza Pilgrim is almost at the opposite spectrum of Napoli pizzas - sticking to the basics and simples but doing it perfectly. Those who had the pleasure of eating at Da Michele would appreciate the definition of the ultimate dough, and the dough here is very very close. Unlike Homeslice, variations at PP are very straightforward with more conventional toppings.
Portobello Mushroom & Truffle Oil
Despite Lucy L recommending the Salsiccia e Fraiarielli (fennel sausage and wild broccoli), I went with Abdul's suggestion of a pizza bianco, which means I didn't get to taste the amazing plum tomato sauce here. Damn.
The thick cuts of portobello mushroom were oozing with funghi succulence, but the absolute focus was definitely the thick layer of cheese against the thin, moist dough with a crispy base. Truffle oil was very light touch, usually as a aftertaste without dominating my taste buds. The only thing I would change is to reduce the width of the crust :) It really brought me back to Napoli though.
I can't compare Pizza Pilgrim and Homeslice against each other - they both offer fantastic pizzas, in a slightly different way. That said I thought Homeslice had a more comfortable space with a higher ceiling, larger wooden benches and tables to eat-in, but their prosecco on tap was lacking bubbles. Pizza Pilgrim offers less comfortable seating in the basement, but people with a smaller appetite wouldn't feel like they are missing out on parts of the menu.
Either way, create places to eat with awesome staff and most importantly, stunning pizzas.
11-12 Dean Street
Tel: 07780 667258
13 Neal's Yard
Tel: 0207 836 4604
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