Marjorie Eisenach shares her experiences with all things Italian during her international travels.
What do you do when you have landed in London and are staying for a while before journeying on to Napoli for la vera pizza napoletana?
After trying three different pizza places during our first week in London, I can safely attest to the fact that good pizza is widely available at various locations throughout the bustling metropolis of London.
Our first lunch time adventure took us to ASK Italian, a chain restaurant, where we sampled two pizzas, the house salad and wine by the glass. The restaurant was clean, upbeat and, while unremarkable, was certainly a clear cut above some U.S. pizza chains. The location where we ate was near Paddington Station, not far from the Lancaster Gate tube station.
Our next lunch time foray took us to a more upscale establishment, Il Delfino, at 2 Mount Street in Mayfair. It was a posh establishment, but the prices were still reasonable for wood fired pizza. Our lunch bill came to a total of 32 British pounds for two pizzas, two glasses of wine and one mixed green salad. We enjoyed this pizza more and the house salad had more veggies than the one we tried at ASK Italian. The service was attentive and the clientele was certainly trendier, which one would expect at a Mayfair location. It provided great people watching. A true respite when you are tired from upscale shopping in this neighborhood.
Our next pizza was eaten at Bella Italia, en route to Somerset House to see the Courtauld Museum. Located on the Strand, quite close to the Ritz, this restaurant is much larger than the other two, with two full floors, an outdoor venue and wonderful photos and wallpaper of famous scenes from Italian Art Deco posters. The pizza was tasty and salad was fresh. This is one of several London locations; a good place to eat while walking in central London.
Based on our experience, avoid places that offer pizza but don’t make them fresh on the premises. A wood fired pizza is always the best way to go.
We stumbled into one place called Café Bella Maria, near the Queen’s Mews, not too far from Buckingham Place and it was not of the same quality as the other places mentioned above. Although the mushrooms on top of the pizza appeared fresh, the pizza seemed as though it had been frozen and it lacked the tasty appeal of a freshly made pizza. With so many other places to choose from, we can only be excused from our bad choice because it was getting rather late to eat lunch and no other place was in sight.
A few years ago we were taken to a pizza parlor that was said to have been a favorite of Princess Diana, called Da Mario. It has recently received negative posts on Yelp as being very customer unfriendly. Times change and one needs to keep abreast of the latest developments. One way to do so is consult the current listing of the top 10 pizza places in London, like http://www.standard.co.uk/goingout/restaurants/ten-pizza-restaurants-to-try-before-you-die-7952846.html. We hope to try a number of them next week for lunch and should have more info to share soon.
Marjorie helps American and British travelers build their Italian language skills and learn about Italian culture, sites and events so they can get the most out of their time spent in the country. Visit www.italyanditalian.com to get in touch with her!