I’d always liked the thought of Pizza East – a reasonably priced pizzeria that isn’t as ordinary as Pizza Express, but equally isn’t as random as Fire and Stone (cauliflower on Pizza, really?!). So, when I heard Shoreditch House had opened its second restaurant in Portobello, I made sure my next date with the Boyfriend was there.
I liked Pizza East instantly. Partly because I felt reassured that the restaurant seemed to be serving dinner to everyone on the Portobello Road (perhaps the calm before Carnival the next day), but I also loved the ‘fake’ rustic interior (I’m fairly certain parts of the cladded ceiling was stuck on).
You can’t book a table, but as I was told on the phone, it didn’t take long until we were seated and ordering two carafes of wine – always solves the problem when the Boyfriend wants red and I want white.
The wine arrived quickly with two small tumblers (a bit of a trend at the moment?), along with our menus. Feeling hungry, we feasted our eyes over the options that ranged from pizza and salads, to meat and fish dishes, which clearly impressed us as we almost over ordered.
We couldn’t resist the starters, so decided to share the courgette and aubergine fritti, which came with homemade aioli. We thought the fritti would be similar to the courgette fries in Byron Burger, so were a little surprised to see the large, clumsy chunks of vegetables in front of us. They were a little greasy and the aioli wasn’t really needed, but they satisfied our hunger and we finished feeling relieved that we hadn’t each had a plate as the portion was far too big for one person.
When picking our main courses, the Boyfriend’s eyes instantly landed on the pork belly, but he settled on the veal meatball pizza (it sounded a little ‘Fire and Stone’ for my liking). Unfortunately for him, this ‘signature’ pizza was more like an open top pie that desperately needed gravy to moisten it, so he finished with plenty still left on his plate and a disappointed feeling in his stomach.
I was a little more traditional in my choice, going for pizza with a prosciutto, artichoke (I can’t get enough of them at the moment) and basil topping. I’m glad I went with this as it may not have been the best pizza in the world, but it’s flavours were enjoyable even though it was covered in what looked like regular ham rather than the prosciutto it promised.
The best thing about our meal was the pudding – salted chocolate caramel tart. If you like Lindt sea salt chocolate then this is the dessert for you. The salt married the smooth chocolate and sweet caramel perfectly, so my only regret was sharing it.
I think the Boyfriend was put off by his strangely dry and disappointing pizza, but I would still go back to Pizza East for the atmosphere, price and amazing chocolate tart.
Pizza East Portobello, 310 Portobello Road, London W10 5TA