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Italians do it better (pizza & football) – Santa Maria Pizzeria

As we’re still basking in the glory of Italy making it to the Euro 2012 football cup final, with a neat 2-0 vs Germany and some visually pleasing striptease action by Mario Balotelli), I thought I might as well embrace the Italian in me and do a very patriotic post on a stereotypical Italian food staples: pizza. Today I am going to tell you a bit about Pizzeria Santa Maria in Ealing, a landmark of the London pizza scene which is just going to open a new restaurant in Kensal Rise.

To tell you just how good it is, picture this scene:  imagine one of the friends I had invited (not a “foodie” by any means, and unaware of this blog) taking a bite of her pizza, munching, smacking  her lips and saying in a dreamy voice: “I was just thinking… it’s actually quite hard to decide what’s better between food and sex”. Bingo! 

santa maria pizzeria london 1

The myth that “Italian pizza is the best in the world” is a rare case of commonplace assumption which is quite true.  Clearly, I don’t mean “made by Italians” as the world is full of crappy pizzerias run by Italians, whilst there are some wonderfully- run non-Italian pizza joints (one for all: the pizza truck Pizza Pilgrims I recently visited). I mean pizza made the Italian way- with a passion for quality and a tension to do things properly which is peculiar of great craftsmanship.  A catchy concept, clever branding, ubercool location and good PR will only get you so far without a healthy obsession for detail and having a good product- in this case, food. Santa Maria Pizzeria is further proof of this, if ever needed. The pizza is hands- off the best I have eaten in London, and easily in top 5 worldwide (including Naples)- and their branding is not bad at all either (plus, they’re active on social media- follow them on twitter at @SantaMariaPizza).

santa maria pizza london 2

Santa Maria doesn’t really need a “proper review” from me as there so many out there and everybody seems to agree that they are the #1 Pizza in London- including the Financial Times, according to which (and I am no-one to argue with a proper food critic) it’s even “posh”.

So I thought I would just list a few things I now know about it:

  • It’s a good 10 min walking from Ealing Broadway. I am telling you this not to put you off going, but to put thing in context- after 45 min in the Tube at rush hour on a Tuesday in a hot and stuffy London day, you start thinking the food has to be damn good to be worth it. And it is.
  • As the lovely owner Pasquale told us, the pizza being so good is not a chance but the result of a scientific method (plus, I am sure, some secret he WON’T tell you about): 24-hour to raise the dough, meaning that only a small amount of yeast (0.6 grams/kg) is needed. To give you perspective a very famous pizza joint (which I’m from now on going to call “Pizza (Y)East” puts 25 grams- no wonder their pizza looks and tastes good at first bit, but has an iron aftertaste and keeps raising in your belly giving you that bloated feeling the day after!
  • ALL ingredients (except the basil) come from Italy: passata (tomato sauce- and no it doesn’t conatin garlic or “herbs”), cherry tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, fiordilatte, etc. Now I’m not going to be a purist and say that some British producer can’t make great tasting dairy or tomatoes- I’m sure they do. The taste though would be very different, and for the full Italian experience you have to taste Italy- grown produce.
  • If you can’t imagine your pizza without Coke…well, I pity you. Ok just kidding- but for sure you won’t like Santa Maria strict “no Coke” policy. In fact it has a very short drinks list, including a good white wine from Abruzzo to which I am very partial – but frankly, it’s one of those cases of “who cares” as the food is just so divine.
  • Finally, some good news:  Santa Maria is doubling up soon with a new opening in Kensal Rise. Very cleverly, they’re not doing the chain thing but going for a new name with the same slightly cheeky Italian vibe.  “Sacro Cuore” will be opening mid- July at 45 Chamberlayne Road (update 2013: Sacro Cuore has opened- read my review).  I am definitely going!

Santa Maria on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

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3 Comments

  1. Thank you for this review. We went to Sacro Cuore to celebrate my birthday yesterday night and the pizza was just great! Please keep us updated with food in London so we can make the most of this beautiful city. Thank you!

    • I am really glad you liked it! :) I plan to visit Sacro Cuore soon…

  2. I would to be the best in africa if will be help by the best betters from italy and entere world

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