The drinks at Pizza East are pricey and the menu is pretentious.
Wow, does that feel better. You see, this new(ish) Shoreditch pizzeria is so good, I needed to cough up the negative bile at the outset. Yes, their imaginative wine selection will set you back and yes, any menu that omits the £ sign and prints subheadings that bark at you like Gordon Ramsay making a tiramisu (“Cold”, ‘Baked”, “Pizza – done”) smacks of Shoreditch twat.
However, everything else about this place is close to perfect. From the Cowshed-stocked Victorian toilets up, via every artfully rustic floorboard, oversized wooden lampshade and rivet-studded chrome bar, to the faces of each backwards bent-over server, nothing has been left to chance.
The place is exactly how I’d design a pizza restaurant if I (like the proprietor) was a property entrepreneur with Shoreditch and Soho House and a few trips to Tuscany under my belt. It’s huge and yet it’s bustling, convivial crowds huddled on communal tables and sitting up at the wood fired ovens watching a crack team of chefs assemble circular excellence.
Our ten-incher was a generous pile-up of garlic, sprouting broccoli and crumbly sausage atop a potholed moonscape of crisp dough while a trio of meatballs were dense and delicious. Sicilian aubergine with orange, balsamic and chili meanwhile was an inspired combination if waterlogged like a well-used bath mat.
It’s the whole experience though that elevates Pizza East into a league of its own; sitting among hanging hams and huge cheese cabinets, watching the pizzas slide in and out of the two huge furnaces and eyeing up plates of food you want to try but can’t manage it makes you curse your creator for only bestowing you with the one belly. If a restaurant’s aim is to make us envy cattle, Pizza East succeeded several times over.
Update: We went back, for more divine dough, and found leek, stracchino, pancetta, and egg (9) an inspired combo of stringy leek strands, egg that undulated down gullets with ease and sliced piggy with attitude. We made the mistake of sitting at those communal tables though, and it was like trying to do star jumps on the tube. The proximity thing wasn’t a problem until Jack Skellington sat down next to me and queried her way through the entire menu (“what’s this? what’s this?” – It’s gorgonzola, love, it’s a cheese).
Music: A little bit of jazz, a little bit of funk (ruined by the odd pop track like Eagle Eyed Cherry and Black Kids)
Price Per Head: £17.63 (albeit without booze)
Clientele: After work crowd that seem to have commute-diverted from all over the city