Nearly all the nights I’ve had at Pizza East, Shoreditch have been delightful.
Once you’ve come up the stairs, straight ahead you’ll see a wide wooden table and the antipasto bar. It’s a good spot for a drink and a nibble – and a wait if you forgot to make a booking. Stretching on from there are a series of rectangular spaces which tinker with the building’s industrial history. The restaurant is a cavernous space, which seats up to 170 hipsters. The floors are wooden, the walls concrete. There are brushed metal topped bars and sea foam green and white tiles; which remind me of a vintage butchers. The banquettes are ruby leather and the wide windows slake in plenty of light.
For a spot smack in the middle of East London, it reminds me a lot of New York.
For me, Pizza East holds the following appeal; it’s within sprinting distance of my two favourite cinemas in London (Rich Mix, and the irrepressibly delightful Aubin).
It also has very good pizza. The dough has both heft and chew, stretching like pulled elastic at the edges. It puffs and cranes around the fillings and eventually slides to a soggy centre. There’s often the benefit of blemishes made of tasty char.
The menu has around 13 varieties of pie. The sprouting broccoli, spicy sausage and mozzarella (£13) is a good muddle of textures, with the well meaning greens bouncing off the heat in the meatballs.
Other winners include the veal meatballs with prosciutto cream and sage and the mozzarella, tomato and basil (though for me, a few extra basil leaves wouldn’t go astray).
The menu also holds some alluring options for antipasti and specials; from boards of char grilled white asparagus with San Daniele prosciutto and parmesan, through to salads of sardines with the punch of pine nuts, raisins and celery.
And despite the fact that two pizzas and a salad are plenty to share between two people, The Hungry One can never visit without ordering a slab of roasted pork rib that’s the size of a schnauzer’s head.
There’s crackling and well marbled fat and a piquant relish of green herbs with vinegar for cut through. He rarely talks while he’s eating it. To him, it’s that good.
It can be a delightful place. Yet here are some of the things that irk me.
Somewhere along the line someone decided that it was cooler to drink wine out of glass tumblers. I place that in the same category as skinny jeans and high waisted shorts. It might be cool to some, but it’s just not my style. I like to twirl a wine glass stem. I like to bury my nose in the glass. And I’m incapable of drinking wine out of a water glass without feeling like I’m at a university house party, hoping the cool kids will deign to come talk to me.
Here’s another thing that niggles me about Pizza East. Some of the patrons. I’m not sure if it’s the restaurant’s fraternity with Soho House and The Shoreditch Club, or owing to the fact it’s a nice space with moderately priced pizza and beer. Whatever it is; some of the the fellow diners can be downright irksome.
Call me crazy, but to me nobody needs to shout out what their agent emailed them that morning, or bellow on about how tricky it is to find a dog that suits your personal brand.
Further more, if you’re the brunette gazelle who sat next to me the last time we visited you probably don’t need to wrinkle your nose when I order a pizza and ponder to your man-friend (who’s toting an ironic bum bag) ‘do women really eat carbs these days?’
Yes they do. And I’m happy to do it here. They don’t call it Pizza East for nothing sweetheart.
Sometimes a great night is about the food. Sometimes it’s about the people.
And sometimes all a good night requires is food that’s pleasing enough to make the company tolerable.
Which is why we keep on going back.
(Pizza East has recently opened a branch in Notting Hill)
56 Shoreditch High Street London E1 6JJ
Tel: 020 7729 1888