Sniffing out London’s Street Food, Pop-ups and Independents…
11 Dean Street
020 7287 8964
Full disclosure, The Dog picked Pizza Pilgrims for a first date. Typical scenario, somewhere central to ensure equal travel duties for both parties and booked early to avoid the mob scene that Soho turns into on a Saturday night when tables after 8pm command an hour wait minimum. It’s the perfect place. Just jaunty enough to say ‘hey, I’m that cool guy who didn’t pick one of the chains’ and reasonably priced so you’re not down by a weeks wages should you find yourself friend-zoned within the first 20 minutes. Bright and cheerful with a 50s slash 60s Dolce Vita vibe going on (think Campari posters, Piaggio iconography, Mafia-lite) and a soundtrack that was eclectic and cheesier than anything on the menu, the Pizza Pilgrims appear not to take themselves too seriously. The three stubbled Pizzaioli cheerfully working the counter upstairs looked like the sort of guys Abercrombie & Fitch might hire were they ever to open a store in Roma and the girls who sat there to eat didn’t appear to be complaining.
Authenticity is a tricky and sometimes elusive quality but a quick glance at the compact and concise menu allayed any fears about being served the Disney version of proper Italian pizza. The website will attest to the legendary ‘Pilgrimage’ undertaken by the chaps who founded the brand and their voyage of discovery across Italy to bring home ‘sapori autentici.’
The Dog opted for the Nduja (with spicy, Calabrian pork sausage) and the love interest plumped for Aubergine Parmagiana (with roast aubergine, parmesan, cherry tomatoes and garlic.) Both were deliciously oily and rustic, no perfect geometry here, and the minimal ingredients jostled for attention, bragging about their Latin origins. Everything was washed down with a litre of ‘Red on tap’ which arrived by the carafe and was the only choice on the menu. Those who break out in a nervous sweat when navigating a wine list can rejoice. We finished up with a classic Affogato (vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso poured over the top but you knew that, right?) and another generoso scoop of the same vanilla ice cream topped with extra virgin olive oil and a couple of twists of fresh ground sea salt. Not quite as pazzo as it first sounds and definitely one for those whose sweet tooth (unlike The Dog’s) isn’t always making the decisions.
Oh, one final thing. Both The Dog and The Date ended up with mad hiccups by the time the bill arrived. Not quite sure which part of the meal was responsible but it made for much hilarity on the walk back through Soho toward tubes and buses home. None of which, you might be pleased to hear, terminated in the friend-zone.