My first visit to Pizza Pilgrims was three years ago and it has, over the course of numerous visits, cemented its position as my favourite pizzeria. Since I first visited the quirky basement restaurant in Soho, it has expanded to five branches around London. Guess I’m not alone in my estimations!
Pizza Pilgrims serves Neapolitan pizza; a thin base pizza that is heated in a wood-fire oven at very high temperatures for 60-90 seconds. The high temperatures cause slight charring on the crust, giving it a smokey flavour and a very slightly crispy texture. The brief time in the oven means the flavour of the fresh basil, tomato, and mozarella are not lost. It also means you do not have to wait long for your food.
Proper Neapolitan pizza has soft, elastic dough so you can’t pick up slices with your hands. In fact, the centre of the pizza tends to be very gooey from the melted cheese and the only way to get by without making a mess is to eat with a knife and fork. The dough remains chewy even towards the end of the meal, whereas normal pizzas would have stiffened.
L to R: Nduja with add-on Napoli salami (£8.50 + £2.50); Garlic, rosemary & parmesan flatbread (£4.50); Portobello mushroom & truffle with add-on Nduja (£9.50 + £2)
The first thing one notices when the pizza arrives is the shape. The pizzas are roundish but not perfect circles, which show that each one is lovingly hand made and not mechanically put together.
My husband ordered the portobello mushroom pizza – white pizza with portobello mushroom, fior di latte, parmesan, basil and truffle oil – and added nduja sausage. The nduja (the darker red blobs that look like mince meat) is a spicy sausage from Calabria (Italy) made of pork and chillis.
I’m always tempted to try this because I like mushrooms but I always end up ordering a proper Nduja pizza so I can have it in all its glory. The Nduja is Pizza Pilgrim’s signature pizza. It is essentially a margherita pizza with nduja sausage. The sausage melts in the heat so that it comes together with the cheese in a loving hug.
I was greedy and chose to add salami but that was a mistake in retrospect. The nduja pizza on its own is heavenly – just the right amount of spice and salt. The additional salami made the pizza too salty. Considering my tolerance for salt is already pretty high, I wouldn’t recommend this combination of meat to anyone. Order the Nduja on its own!
Just so you know, we weren’t being huge gluttons by ordering a pizza each. A Neapolitan pizza is 10-12 inches wide and the mozzarella cheese is rather light so one pizza is a good portion for an average person. I struggled a little to finish mine but it wasn’t enough for my husband, hence the additional garlic flatbread.
Friendly staff all round!
We got the Pizza Pilgrims recipe book for £20 and we look forward to trying some of these recipes in future. I had my doubts about how successful we would be since we only have a small oven that doesn’t go to such high temperatures but I found some tips here on how to prepare Neapolitan pizzas at home. You can also get the book from Amazon.
Back home in Singapore, friends have recommended other pizza places in Singapore but none have come class so far. Please let me know if you know of any places that serve awesome Neapolitan pizza!