My Mum has always turned up her nose to the idea of eating pizza. To her it's just bread with tomato sauce, something that she would refuse to eat, especially in a restaurant. I get where she's coming from, a basic pizza is essential three simple ingredients; dough, tomatoes and cheese. But that's where the comparison ends because when pizza is done well it is so much more than just some tomato sauce on bread.
So here's a list of my favourite places to grab a slice in London. I haven't included Voodoo Rays but I did want to give it a little mention. Whilst I don't think the pizzas are especially amazing I do love the vibe of this NYC style pizza joint. There's a ton of toppings to choose from and when you're in desperate need of a little bite late at night in Dalston or Shoreditch there really is no better place it hit up. Grab yourself a tequila slush puppy whilst you're at it as well.
1. Homeslice, various
Whilst the Homeslice restaurant is a relative newcomer on the London food scene the company have been around for a while, starting out as a humble food stall. They quickly established themselves as a pizza Mecca and if you have a chance to visit you'll quickly understand why. Their pizza are huge, 20" of fluffy goodness with a varied and unique menu of toppings. My favourite two combinations are; aubergine, cauliflower cheese, spinach and harissa and goat shoulder, savoy cabbage and sumac yoghurt. If 20" seems a bit big and your friend doesn't want the same topping then don't despair, they do half and half plus a few toppings are also served by the slice. 20" is fine for two people if you're really hungry, otherwise 3 people per pizza is just about right. I've only been to the Covent Garden branch which isn't that big so you often have to queue but the front of house will take your number and give you a call when your table is ready.
2. Pizza Pilgrims, various
I've loved Pizza Pilgrims ever since their stall frequented Berwick Street Market many years and now that they have a branch around the corner from my office in Farringdon I couldn't be happier. Whilst the list of toppings is on the simple side they taste wonderfully flavoursome and on top of the fluffy and ever so slightly chewy base these beauties really are delicious. My favourite topping with out a doubt is the N'duja, a spicy Italian sausage on top of a margarita base. The tomato sauce is fresh yet rich and the spicy sausage packs just the right amount of heat. Pizza Pilgrims will continue to be a firm favourite of mine.
3. Franco Manca, various
I remember my first visit to the original Franco Manca in Brixton Market and how I exclaimed that these sour dough pizzas were the best I've ever tried, well five years later and I haven't changed my mind one bit. These pizzas are perfect and ever since a branch opened across the road from my flat in Wimbledon I have been a regular customer. The base is soft and fluffy and even though the toppings are quite traditional they taste absolutely stunning. I quite often go for the tomato, mozzarella and basil because the quality of the simple ingredients really does shine though on this but sometimes I'm tempted by the specials. When it comes to pizza I normally prefer things on the simple side and that what I love about Franco Manca, the ingredients speak for themselves so you don't need a fussy combination to have a truly wonderful meal.
4. Born and Raised, Street Feast (various)
I love the food market scene in London but pizza is something I normally avoid at these places because quite frankly I think there are better sounding options at the other stalls. I changed my mind when I finally tried Born and Raised after exhausting all the other options at Street Feast. These soft and fluffy pizzas have an unusual combination of ingredients and really stand out for being unique and delicious. I love the purple Somerset goats cheese on beetroot-infused dough with caramelised red onions & watercress, the ingredients work so well with each to produce a moreish and rich tasting pizza. I've got my eye on the beef brisket and pork shoulder pizzas for next time so let this be a lesson to never dismiss a pizza joint for being too simple because you really might surprise yourself.
5. The Stable, Whitechapel
I wasn't sure what I was going to include for my fifth pizza joint, until I went to the press party for the brand new, speciality cider and pizza joint The Stable. The Stable is already established outside London with many branches in the west of England. They're know for cider as they serve over 80 different kinds but they also do pizza which is great because you need something to soak up all that booze. I was able to try quite a few varieties of pizza (and cider but don't ask me for the names) at the launch and the few that stood out where the blazing saddle, fresh Hawaiian and porky pancetta. I hate mushrooms so I avoided all the fungi based toppings which is quite a few actually but I'm sure they taste just as nice. These crispy, thin base pizzas taste fresh and delicious plus the large menu will keep everyone satisfied. I was sceptical at first but after the launch party I really was won over by the excellent quality of the food. I'll definitely be revisiting for more pizza (and cider).