I love Pizza and I love Pizza East. This is a review I should have written a long time ago when I first went to Pizza East in 2010 when it was still quite new on the block.
Pizza East is housed in the old tea building on the corner of Shoreditch High Street and Bethnal Green Road, on the same site as Shoreditch House (and indeed owned by the same). The interior has retained its industrial feel, stripped floor boards, sit-up tiled-bar, concrete girders and iron-based tables. The vibe is casual and fun, with a mix of groups of friends and work colleagues, all predmoninantly in the 25-35 age range. I also think that the place has quite a New-Yorky feel to it (for both positive and negative reasons) – positive in its urban-cool attidute of pairing good music with good food (there is also a bar donwstairs) and negative with its Maitre-D, two hour time limt on the table and annoying New-York habit of not seating you at your table until your whole party has arrived!) Those gripes aside, I love eating at Pizza East – the flavours on the pizzas are a little bit different to elsewhere (I’m no expert on Italian food, but I like to think Pizza East is a modern twist on the conventional pizza toppings – the only nod to convention is a mozzarella and tomato (i.e. margherita) otherwise there isn’t a quattro stagione or calzone in sight!), the desserts are yum and the drinks list is enticing. Whenever I go, we always order a variety of pizzas to share as we can never decide on just one each and I’d recommend it as the way forward.
On my most recent visit I went with a friend who definitely seems more in-the-know than me, since she produced an elusive Pizza East key ring, entitling the bearer to 50% off the entire food and drinks bill on a monday – amazing value! Sadly, I am not sure how one goes about procurring one, beyond being in the right place at the right time perhaps (they wouldn’t give me one on our visit).
Anyway, on this visit I went for my favourite pizza – The San Daniele. A beautiful pizza of san daniele cured ham, pesto, tomato and ricotta. My friend had the guanciale, taleggio and spinach. Whenever I eat at Pizza East, I always have to ask for a translation of the menu as it seems I am totally ignorant as to the myriad different types and names for the different Italian incarnations of ham. For those as in the dark as me, San Daniele is a type of cured ham like proscuitto and Guanciale is pork cheek, apparently, so meatier than your average ham (well, not ham at all really). I love the pizza dough at Pizza East, it’s a perfect marriage of squidgy doughiness (without being stodgy), and crispy edges, managing to be not too thick (American pizza), but not too thin (Italian Pizza). We paired out pizza with a butter lettuce and avocado side salad – for me every meal has to have some greens so that I can feel slightly healthy about chowing down a pizza. The salad was good, but a bit oily, I would have preferred seasoning to be rather more Jamie Oliver-esque i.e. a dash of oil with a good squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper. But really, the salads aren’t the reason you’re coming here so I’m not that fussed.
Whilst I think the pizzas are the main draw, the kitchen also seems to do a solid line in meaty mains too (and the odd fish dish). Our other dining companion had the pork belly, which was served with a delicious looking tomato-based sauce and sauteed potatoes. So you can bring non-pizza-loving friends here too! I should also mention the veal pizza in this post too – whilst we didn’t have it on this occasion, it is yummy – veal, proscuitto AND cream. Rather rich, but if you’re sharing, it’s a good one to get so that everyone can have a taste.
We went for desserts on this occasion, being the gluttons that we are, and the three of us shared the hot cinammon sugar doughnuts and chocolate dipping sauce (an excellent group choice) and salted caramel chocolate tart which was garnished with crushed sea salt and was gorgeous. The desserts don’t really stick to the Italian theme, which is fine by me as the standard tiramisu can get a little dull.
We left very full and planning our next visit. Particularly on happy mondays!
Epicurean Wrap up
Our bill was skewed since we had 50% off, but as a guide pizzas are around £10 – £13, sides £4 and desserts £6
Value Barometer: 7/10 – only gets pricey if you order cocktails
Ambiance: Hipsters, city workers, Shoreditch-ites
Food: Italian, but not your average
Go if: You are a pizza fan/want to impress a date with your coolness
Don’t go if: you are a traditionalist/want a deep and meaningful conversation – it’s quite loud!
Getting there: Shoreditch High Street Overground
The address is The Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High Street E1 6JJ