It’s all about the dough at Pizza East. Elastic and soft with a smoky char to it from the woodfired oven it is an almost perfect pizza base. The restaurant itself is in terminally cool Shoreditch. Henry Holland was at the table next to us, need I say more. I visited with my friends Amanda and Claire and we decided that we needed new haircuts if we were to eat there again, preferably featuring a fringe, afro, quiff, or even a combination of the three.
Potato, garlic and rosemary pizza
Pizza East is located in the old TEA building on Shoreditch high street. It feels like you are eating in someones uber cool warehouse apartment. The focal point is a big central bar with a few salami strung up overhead and the huge woodfired oven in one corner. The walls are exposed brick and there is lots of metal, polished concrete and mysterious looking piping and ducts. Tables are a mix of long communal tables and smaller tables for twos and threes. The chairs look and feel like school chairs, by which I mean they are not the most comfortable chairs you will ever sit on but that is only a small niggle.
When we booked we were given a two hour “slot” to dine in, however in the end Pizza East was not full and so we were able to linger at our table for a good three hours. No one tried to hurry us along at all and service was attentive and friendly. Wine is served in glass tumblers rather than glasses which I am not that great a fan of although I suppose it adds to the casual feel of the place and saves on dishwasher space. On the plus side, wine is available by the glass, carafe or bottle, perfect for those nights when you don’t want a full bottle (as irregular as they may be). The wine selection itself was pretty good and the Sangiovese del Rubicone (£18) was a perfect fruity winter tipple.
The menu is divided into “cold”, “baked” and “fried” antipasti, pizzas, salads and a handful of other main dishes. Given the arctic temperatures we decided to order from the baked and fried antipasti. To start, the roasted bone marrow (£7) which was served St John style, in the bone with some toasted bread and parsley and salt as accompaniments. There is something very satisfying about sucking the marrow out of a bone and the marrow was unctuous and warming. The lamb meatballs (£5) came doused in a napoli sauce. They were tender but not hugely memorable. From the fried section, the “Sicilian aubergine” (£4) was deep fried like tempura with a kick of balsamic and chilli. It was quite an unusual flavour combination but I have to say that I quite liked it. Deep fried food, what’s not to love.
Now for the main game, the pizzas. As I said, the base was pretty perfect, smoky and billowy. We tried the veal meatball pizza which was topped with crispy thin curls of prosciutto (£12) and a squeeze of lemon giving a hint of tartness. This was pizza with bags of flavour, right down to the seasoning through the base. With pizza though, I find that often simplest is best, so it was that the potato, garlic and rosemary pizza (£10) was the winner with its moreish double whammy of carbs. The baby gem salad (£9) with pancetta and pear was huge and lathered in a creamy gorgonzola dressing which was slightly overpowering.
Salted chocolate and caramel tart
There was not really any need for dessert after that so called salad but we decided to sample the hot cinnamon sugar donuts (£6) which were almost like fat, round versions of churros complete with a pot of hot chocolate to dip them in. They were fantastically airy and fluffy. Salted chocolate is everywhere at the moment so of course it was featured on the Pizza East menu in the form of a rich salted chocolate and caramel tart (£5). Obama himself (a salted chocolate fan) would have been in raptures over this cake which was rich and decadent.
With two bottles of wine our bill came to just over £30 each which seemed fair. Pizza East ticks all the right dining boxes. It is fun, casual and well priced with the polish that comes from being part of the Soho House group.
Details: 56 Shoreditch High Street, Shoreditch E1 6JJ (Ph 020 7729 1888) Tube: Liverpool street
If you liked reading this you might like this review of the excellent Lavender Hill pizzeria, Donna Margherita, or if you are in Shoreditch another good nearby (non pizza) restaurant is The Albion.