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Ooops the Italians did it again – Sacro Cuore Pizzeria

Do Italians really do it better? Well, depends on what. Sex- possibly. Politics- not quite. Food- if it contains carbs and tomato, surely yes. And they just did it again. On the politics side, the latest Italian elections saw my fellow countrymen voting Berlusconi back into office, alongside someone possibly even scarier: the populist comedian Beppe Grillo and his Five Star Movement of “non-professional politicians”. Whilst the country keep getting by in its usual tragicomic chaos, legions of Italian keep churning out great food around the world. Here I reconnect with my Italian roots in Kensal Rise, London, at Sacro Cuore Pizzeria

Sacro Cuore Kensal Rise- pizzeria 1

Some of my favourite Italians in London- the guys behind the brilliant Santa Maria Pizzeria in Ealing, have done it again- this time by opening a new sister restaurant in Kensal Rise. My visit was long overdue, as the place has been in operation for a few months now -but Brent, exactly like Ealing Broadway, it’s not exactly on my beat and I am notoriously fond of my East London bubble. Only an invitation from Westerner friend Giorgia, the blogger at  Linguina dei Campi, could convince me to trek there on a very cold Wednesday night.

Now, if you have casually googled Sacro Cuore (I just did) you’ll see some tepid, some raving and some plain bad reviews, mostly from Time Out and readers. Not that I trust it at all (especially after they bashed my beloved Ombra), but still- if there’s strength in numbers, then I should believe that service is absent- minded if not just rude and food is so-so (soggy pizza, sparse toppings). I must say I am really puzzled- even if I judge my experience there by discounting me being Italian (and therefore being used to what exactly a pizzeria experience is) I can only say good things.

Sacro Cuore Pizzeria logo pizza calzone

Service was friendly and efficient; the menu is basic but clear and no, I don’t expect a wine list from a pizzeria – a choice of a couple beers is normal; the pizza and calzone we shared had the signature Santa Maria slow-rising dough, charred cornicione and great tasting toppings. The highlight for me is the tomato sauce, which is NOT San Marzano tomato DOC but San Marzano area variety and very good nonetheless without the need for special labels. If I want to be very critical, you can tell that the guys behind the counter are maybe a little less experienced than the running-like-clockwork team of Pizzaioli at the first establishment, as our pizza ( a Bufalina and a Calzone) were slightly misshapen and I found mine a tad harder to digest than I’d like. It also didn’t help that I combined my pizza with a giant Nastro Azzurro beer and dessert- but that’s the whole point with good pizza, you keep chewing until you’re almost sick.

A starter of Aubergines Parmigiana and the desserts (Oddono gelato in generous portions) were very good, if unremarkable.  his review as well.  Our bill came in at less than £20 per head and we had a tasty, filling, jovial meal in a buzzing atmosphere. The crowd seemed pleased and no, they were not all Italians. I found it funny that some online reviews seemed to describe the type of Italian experience that many British people would find charming and spontaneous when on holiday- but then do not tolerate when at home.

Sacro Cuore pizzeria- pizzaioli Oddono gelato

I am sure Sacro Cuore only needs a few more weeks or months to iron out some minor details and then it will be another pilgrimage destination for pizza lovers from all corners of London, as Santa Maria is today.  I find both places a refreshingly honest, simple proposition (no food bloggers and critics hype, ingredients provenance obsession, branding madness) and exactly what a pizzeria should be – but then, I am Italian, so probably not objective…we do have indeed a complicated relationship with chaos and imperfection. For reliably mediocre pizzas, head to Pizza Express; for hipster-ism and ambience, head to pizza (Y)East; for exotic fltbreads, to Story Deli; for a truly Italian experience, with its upsides and downsides, my vote goes to Sacro Cuore.

What’s the best Italian pizza in London for you? Tell me in the comments…

Sacro Cuore on Urbanspoon

P.S. If you want to see more and better pictures and more pizza flavours from Sacro Cuore,  fellow blogger The Insatiable Eater has eaten through the menu more extensively (lucky guy, the place is local for him) so check out his write up.

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