As something of a pizza addict, it’s tempting to start this post by describing myself as a pizza pilgrim. However, the word ‘pilgrim’ connotes travelling – for most of my life, my pizza needs have been dealt with by Domino’s. Lazy as I may be, I can hardly describe the journey to the front door as a ‘pilgrimage’. My supplier of choice also gives something else away about my pizza habit: it has been associated with deep pan pizzas (seriously, who orders ‘thin crust’ from Domino’s?) As such, I’m hardly a pizza pilgrim. However, in recent years I’ve broadened my horizons a little. The likes of the White Rabbit and Beerd in Oxford provided clues that there may be something beyond ordering a Meateor and waiting in the region of two hours, only to find that the driver was incapable of working out how to deliver to college premises. More recently, Franco Manca has turned many towards sourdough pizza (or, at least, so I’m told by seasoned Londoners). Sourdough bases may not be as thin and crispy as one would find in Rome, but they’ve definitely more character than either the real deal, or the Domino’s dummy. Having visited Franco Manca too many times in my first few weeks in London, I felt that my quest for this should have just a little more variety. And that’s how I found myself at Pizza Pilgrims this week.
What do they do?
Pizza Pilgrims offers a pretty simple menu: oven-baked pizzas; fried pizzas; typical (apparently) Neapolitan sides; and, the usual array of drinks.
What did we have?
The pizzas start at £5.50 and run up to £10 (or a few pence more for the guest pizza), with fresh chilli or garlic on offer for a further 50 pence. We both had the Salami pizza with fresh chilli and, all in all, were impressed. As you can, the pizza isn’t going to win any awards for looking tidy, but the (presumably intentionally) inconsistent distribution of everything didn’t hinder it too much – pizzas are hardly the most dignified things to eat, after all. The black pepper salami was bacon-like but still distinctive, and the crust was (to my delight) pretty hefty. So far, so good.
We washed down our hefty crusts with prosecco (we’d initially planned on going for brunch, after all…), which was very drinkable. Pizza Pilgrims serve their house wines by the glass, carafe, or litre; describe them only as ‘red’, ‘white’, ‘pink’, or ‘prosecco’; and refer to the (two) other wines as ‘snazzy’. They think this is minimalistic. We thought it was pretentious. Nonetheless, at £28, our litre of prosecco was fairly priced; at £23, the other house wines seem very reasonably priced indeed, for the heart of Soho.
Value for money: 4/5 – we had a pizza and half a litre of wine for £25 each plus tip. Not too shabby.
Pretentiousness: 4/5 – our litre of prosecco was poured into tumblers.
Atmosphere: 3/5 – Kingly Court is a lovely open space for lunch, but (predictably) full of tourists (e.g. me) and, even worse, the occasional crying baby.
All in all, we enjoyed Pizza Pilgrims and would certainly return – however, Franco Manca edges it out, due to more interesting pizzas and because it is astonishingly good value. I’m not yet a fully-fledged pilgrim, but I’ll be continuing my pursuit of pilgrimage with a review of Franco Manca in the not too distant future.