Pizza East – Shoreditch/Bethnal Green

Pizza in London compared to America, is mostly ‘just ok’.  For me, when you pick up a piece of pizza, it should be thick enough not to droop and to support the toppings that are on it – and all the pizza I’ve had in London doesn’t do that. It’s just a bit bland and thin. Perhaps that’s why it’s necessary to eat it with a knife and fork (oh, you silly Brits and your compulsive cutlery habits!).

That was, until, Pizza East came along. Pizza East was opened up recently by Nick Jones, the dude from Shoreditch House (which is incidentally around the corner). But unlike Shoreditch House, Pizza East’s food is worth all the hype.

The interior is hip. I feel comfortable in here, which is more than I can say about most places in Shoreditch.  It’s also very busy – even at 4pm on Saturday.

My friends and I sit down and order some Olives and Almonds:

Pizza East

Gorgeous. These olives were some of the best I’ve had. Firm and full of concentrated flavour. They were absolutely huge, and I could have happily snacked on them the whole meal.

For a starter, we split the mussels:
Pizza East

Very plump. There was some sort of creme fraiche on these that would have been too much if they used any more of it. It was just a touch, and it was perfect. For three of us, we could have used some more bread for sopping though.

I himmed and hawed over what to get for my pizza. I had it narrowed down to about 4 choices, but finally decided on the Veal Meatball Pizza:
Pizza East

Served with prosciutto, sage, lemon, parsely and cream, this may be the best pizza I’ve ever had in my life ever ever ever.  The crust was bubbly and soft, and it was seasoned! No bland dough! The sage and cream were absolutely made to be paired with veal. As I took a bite, the sauce just sort of bubbled up and engulfed all the other toppings. It was so good.

Others on the table included the Prawn with Garlic, Spring Onion and Marjoram:
Pizza East

This was interesting. The marjoram gave it a bit of Earthiness, which was nice. I was a tad confused by the spring onion though, and I think we all would have preferred a bit of cheese. Still, it was delicious.

The last pizza was the Speck with tomato and rocket.

(Side question: Do you know what ‘speck’ is? Neither did we. Apparently it’s like prosciutto, though I’m not exactly clear on the difference and neither was our server. It does, in fact, look a lot like prosciutto – which begs the question, ‘why call it speck, if it looks and tastes like prosciutto AND prosciutto is actually on the menu? Anyone? Anyone?)

Pizza East

This was a much more classic pizza. The speck and rocket were so amazingly fresh, it almost felt like it could be healthy. Plus, it wasn’t dripping in cheese.

The pizza here is brilliant. Every single bite is popping with flavour, and to my absolute delight – everyone I saw in the restaurant abandoned their proper knife and fork, and got down to eating pizza the way it should be eaten – with your hands.

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10 Responses to Pizza East – Shoreditch/Bethnal Green

  1. I think this speck is a type of prosciutto although I am more accustomed to the German type of speck which is more of a cured ham. Pizza wise, looks interesting but you should definitely try Franco Manca or Donna Margherita. Two exemplary versions!

  2. These are quite novel pizzas! I agree with tehbus – Franco Manca is good. I’ve got a post coming up on it tonight.

  3. Speck is German, proscuitto is Italiano I believe.

    Where is it you’re going to have these bland, insipid pizzas?

  4. I have to say I don’t know anyone who eats their pizza with a knife and fork! The trick apparently, is to pinch the slices at the edge and roll inwards, therefore capturing all the topping and avoiding any flop. Gabriele at Donna Margerita in Clapham is very firm about this ‘proper Italian’ way to eat pizza!

  5. Donna Margerita is in Lavender Hill, sorry…

  6. @tebus, Su-Lin, Helen – I’ve heard both those places are amazing. Will definitely plan on a trip down there. They’re not far away, but you know how it can be dragging people south of the river.

    @Lizzie – It depends. At the lower end of things you have your regular voucher places. They’re not great, but they’re easy and cheap, and non-foodies always end up dragging me. I had Basilico a few weeks ago that had better toppings, but the same type of crust. There’s that place in Notting Hill everyone raves about (the takeaway place with a VW Beetle in the window) that was ok – but again, bland crust. I just like crispy, bubbly crust.

  7. danderma

    Oh this looks good… yum!

    I agree! nothing in the UK comes even remotely close to a proper American Pizza! so if you are home sprawled on your cosey couch and watching… say Joey devouring a pizza on Friends and u are hit with a sudden craving for good goey american style pizza… No can do! Your best bet is to settle with a blah pizza delivery and you are lucky if its not burned :(

  8. Ate here last week and really really enjoyed it. Love the space more than anything! Great design.

  9. Ace

    Speck is fish isn’t it? Nice review. Thanks.

  10. Im going this weekend :D. Can’t wait. I’m an american living in the UK and I have not yet eaten a really great pizza here yet. I hear good things about this place.
    I dont have expectations of a NY style pizza, but I am thinking its going to be better than what I normally get, plus I want the donuts for desert :D I am donut mad.
    *kisses* HH

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