Best places to eat pizza in London…
Whether you’re after a New York-style slice or an artisanal sourdough base, London is home to some of the UK’s top pizzerias. Pizza Pilgrims feels like an American diner meets Italian pizzeria with blistered crust bases and a sloppy centre, while at Voodoo Ray’s you’ll find slices piled high with everything from salt beef, sauerkraut and emmental to artichoke hearts and green olives.
Best places to eat pizza across the UK…
Fatto a Mano, Brighton and Hove
Fatto a Mano brings an authentic taste of Naples to its three restaurants (two in Brighton, one in Hove) with its soft and pillowy wood-fired pizzas. The chefs collaborate with producers in Sussex, and there are regular staff tours of Naples, which inspires ideas such as the pizza topped with fennel sausage, Neapolitan broccoli, chilli, provola, mozzarella and parmesan.
Dough & Brew, Warwick
John Martin’s restaurant has reached the finals of the National Pizza Awards three years running. Food aside, much of its appeal is down to the child-friendly approach, including a film club so kids can watch a movie via wireless headphones so the grown-ups can enjoy their meal in relative peace. The wood-fired Neapolitan sourdough pizza toppings range from mac ’n’ cheese to British pulled short-rib beef with caramelised onions, stilton and mozzarella.
The Flat, Exeter
Chloe Whipple and Pietro Chiereghin opened their restaurant in 2017 and specialise in “planet-friendly” vegan and vegetarian versions of northern Italian pizzas. All hand-stretched bases are gluten-free and the kitchen even uses homemade vegan ‘mozzarella’ and ‘parmesan’. Available as small (6-inch) or regular (10-inch), bestsellers include the smoked halloumi, smoked vegan mozzarella, mushrooms, red onion chutney and ground pepper, or the peppers, olives, spinach, mixed nuts and fresh chilli.
Once an engineer for the McLaren Formula 1 team, Graham Faragher and his wife, Kate, started Bertha’s as a street-food business, serving pizzas from a converted canary-yellow Land Rover Defender before opening a bricks-and-mortar pizzeria in Bristol’s burgeoning harbourside food quarter. For Graham, it’s all about a long fermentation for the sourdough – at Bertha’s, it’s between three and five days – and seasonal South West ingredients for the toppings.
The Truffle Shuffle remains a firm favourite with its creamy smoked mushroom and truffle base, mozzarella and mushrooms, as do specials like the Kimcheese – that’s wild garlic and chard kimchi with Devon Blue. “It’s all about the daft ideas,” says Graham, who has also created a number of unusual ice creams at Bertha’s including the Mint Air-Woah (aerated Valrhona dark chocolate churned through fresh mint gelato).
Opened in 2018 by John Savage and Reggie White, a former auctioneer who trained at Ballymaloe Cookery School, Pi is widely regarded as serving the best wood-fired pizzas in the Irish capital. Using ‘00’ flour from Naples and fermenting the dough for 72 hours, the toppings include cheese and charcuterie from artisanal Irish producers such as Fingal Ferguson’s Gubbeen Smokehouse. Pi’s crushed tomato, fresh basil, scamorza, ’nduja, honey, parmigiano reggiano and garlic pizza was voted the best in Dublin this year.
Created by Elvi Drizi, who also runs popular Leeds restaurant Culto, Poco is a small restaurant serving Sicilian street food. In Italian, ‘poco’ means ‘a little bit’ and that is exactly what the restaurant on Kirkstall Road offers, with delicious small bites including authentically Sicilian pizza al taglio served by the slice from large rectangular trays.
All the chefs come from Sicily and they only use authentic recipes and Italian produce in their cooking. The average price at Poco is around £3-4 per portion and its customer base is mostly young professionals and students. Elvi says: “Our aim is to serve affordable and authentic food to the people of Leeds. We keep our prices as low as possible to make our food affordable for our customers – that’s why most of them come to Poco at least a couple of times a week to grab their lunch or dinner.”
Baked in Brick, Birmingham
What started out as a hand-built wood-fired pizza oven and shed at the bottom of owner Lee Desanges’ garden went on to be a mobile pizzeria in a converted Mini competing in the European Street Food Awards. In 2018, the business upgraded to a permanent restaurant in Birmingham, with dough handmade to a specific recipe of two blends of ‘00’ flour and cooked through in an English-built wood-fired oven.
“Our toppings are all about flavour and sometimes not so traditional,” says Lee, name-checking the Blanco pizza with its béchamel sauce, oak-smoked chicken, sautéed rosemary potatoes and rosemary oil, and the wood-fired squash, roasted courgette and crispy kale.
Paesano Pizza, Glasgow
Something of a Glasgow institution, Paesano Pizza claims to be the first to bring authentic, traditional Napoletana pizza to the city, and the original site on Miller Street now has a sibling on Great Western Road. The bases are a hybrid of yeast and sourdough, proven for over 48 hours to produce a light and thin crust on signature pizzas such as the spicy salami, tomato sugo, mozzarella and extra-virgin olive oil.
Scream for Pizza, Newcastle upon Tyne
Scream for Pizza is the brainchild of friends Victoria Featherby and Alex Walker, who met back in 2010 while working in the entertainment department of a cruise ship company. They found common ground in a shared love of pizza and in 2014, between contracts, they decided to head to Naples to do a seven-week course in pizza making at Enzo Coccia’s celebrated La Notizia restaurant.
They returned to Newcastle-upon-Tyne and served their creations from a J7 Peugeot, a former French army ambulance turned pizza truck affectionately known as Goldie. In May 2019, they finally opened their first pizzeria in the Sandyford district, although Goldie still makes regular appearances around the city. Scream for Pizza bestsellers include the crab thermidor (which reached the finals of British Street Food Awards) and a deconstructed fried tiramisu pizza.
GB Pizza Co, Margate and Didsbury
After running a successful Wiltshire gastropub, chef Rachel Seed and food writer Lisa Richards started the GB Pizza Co in 2012 in the back of a 1974 VW camper van, touring farmers’ markets and festivals, selling wood-fired pizzas made with British ingredients. A year later, they opened their first pizza restaurant on the seafront at Margate facing the North Sea.
Using only social media to draw the locals to their new venture, more than 100 people turned up to eat their pizzas on the opening night. That evening the “Margate-rita” was born, and it’s still on the menu alongside pizzas like the Full English (yes, bacon, sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes and egg) and The Bath Pig chorizo and chilli, which has been the bestselling pizza since they opened seven years ago. The menu also features a seasonally changing Charity Pizza, with 50p from each pizza donated to the Brain Tumour Charity. It’s a cause close to their hearts as co-founder Rachel sadly died of a brain tumour last Christmas following a long illness.
Oscar and Rosie’s, Nottingham and Leicester
Oscar and Rosie’s started as a pop-up six years ago by ex-lawyer Olly Hunter but it’s now a fully-fledged restaurant in Nottingham’s historic Lace Market, with a second site in Leicester. Olly says the intention was simply to bring restaurant-grade ingredients and methods to pizza. To that end, the pizzas feature free-range and locally sourced produce, as well as sauces made from scratch and cheeses grated to order, so “they melt just right”.
The pizzas come in “Famous 14-inch” size or by the metre and stand-out choices include the Cosmopolitan (grand reserve serrano ham with tinned peaches and basil leaves), Boom Chicken Wah Wah (a BBQ base with free-range chicken thigh, award-winning smoked streaky bacon, caramelised red onions and thyme roast mushrooms) and The Checkpoint (butternut squash roasted in cumin and chilli with smoked bacon and fresh sage).
Rudy’s, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham
There are now branches of Rudy’s in Liverpool and Birmingham but it all started four years ago in Manchester’s Ancoats district, often described as ‘Little Italy’. Rudy’s has achieved countless accolades since its conception and was recently named the 10th best pizza in the world by Big Seven Travel.
Following the traditions of traditional pizzaiolos from Naples, the Rudy’s chefs serve old favourites such as marinara and margherita but also daily specials and a wide range of vegan pizzas, all cooked in 60 seconds in the searing heat of the wood-fired oven. Made using San Marzano tomatoes alongside carefully sourced local ingredients, the charm of Rudy’s is its simplicity, complete with stripped back interior, open kitchen and a cool aperitivo bar.
All Day Brewing, Salle, Norfolk
In the village of Salle, the taproom of this award-winning microbrewery run by chef and brewer Miles Anstes serves six seasonal vegan pizzas from its Fermentorium taproom every Friday and Saturday. The 72-hour slow-fermented sourdough bases are made using flour from nearby Letheringsett Watermill (Norfolk’s only flour-producing watermill) and yeasts from the brewery’s organic apple orchards, before being topped with locally grown farm produce and stone-baked in the brewery courtyard’s wood-fired pizza oven.
Pizzas include the Reepham Tiger (ginger-garlic tofu, red peppers, spring onions, coriander, cheddar and spicy peanut sauce) and Spicy Salle (sriracha, chillies, vegan pepperoni and rocket).
The Cornish Pizza Co, St Agnes, Cornwall
Tim and Fiona Barton create award-winning thin-crust pizzas with a regional twist using stoneground organic flour and Cornish cheeses and charcuterie. The hand-stretched pizzas have names reflecting the area’s rich mining history and are cooked in a stone-based Italian oven. The dough has a fermentation of more than 36 hours and is cooked at 400C for just a couple of minutes.
Tim says: “Some of our favourite pizzas are the ones featuring products from our friends at Duchy Charcuterie. The ’nduja on the Wheal Coates pizza is a fantastic chilli salami that renders down beautifully in the heat of our oven. Our special of Cornish venison bresaola cured in Cornish gin with our locally foraged wild garlic and nettle pesto is also absolutely delicious.”
Stile Napoletano, Chester
Although he worked as a chef in London before opening Stile Napoletano in Chester Market in 2018, Giacomo Guido hails from the island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples, well known for its sourdough pizzas. Here pizzas include Neapolitan sausage, wild broccoli, mozzarella, smoked mozzarella, fresh chillies and extra-virgin olive oil. Giacomo says: “I use a blend of flours selected by myself, and my dough rises for 48 hours to offer a light and digestible pizza. I think what makes my pizza special is the authenticity, the passion and the knowledge of what I do.”
Words by Mark Taylor
Photographs by Vegan Photographer UK, Emli Bendixen and Helena Dolby