My pizza-loving boss has long been waxing lyrical about Pizza Pilgrims, so on a recent work trip to London, I decided it was high time to check out their pizzas for myself. After all, if they were the inspiration for his own rather good pizzas (which I wrote about here) then I thought they must be something special.
The guys behind Pizza Pilgrims started with a dream of a three-wheeled pizza oven van. After a pilgrimage through Italy to learn their trade, that van became a reality. The fact that that business has now expanded to include two pizzerias, both in central London, is testament to their success. I swung by the Soho venue to check it out.
At Pizza Pilgrims, they pride themselves on making traditional Neapolitan sourdough pizzas, a hats-off to the time they spent training with some of the top pizzaiolos in the Campania region, of which Naples is the capital. Fortunately, they’re so proud of all the ingredients they use that they list them in detail on their website (here) so I can easily tell you all about them.
The dough is made using Caputo Flour, shipped in from Naples, high in gluten and perfect for Neapolitan pizza. And then there’s the Italian plum tomatoes, which are simply crushed with salt to make the sauce. And let’s not forget the all-important mozzarella – Pizza Pilgrims use a cow’s milk mozzarella flown in from Casserta, while each pizza also apparently gets a sprinkling of grated parmesan – Parmigiano Reggiano of course – to give it a deeper flavour.
Faced with a simple but wonderfully appealing menu, my friend and I veered from possibility to possibility but settled on the Nduja, a classic margherita topped with spicy Calabrian pork sausage.
According to their site, this has become Pizza Pilgrims’ signature pizza over the last year. Nduja, the Calabrian sausage, contains plenty of chillies that are mixed with the fatty pork before being smoked and cured. It melts down on top of the pizza and creates what they describe as “little pools of joy” – I’m not quite sure I can find a better way to describe them.
So, my pal and I perched on stools in the small corner pizzeria, watching our pizza be lovingly handmade then popped into the oven. What felt like just minutes later, we were presented with our delicious lunch. Thin, light dough with a crispy edge, covered in rich tomato sauce, pools of aforementioned spicy sausage ‘joy’, and stringy, tasty mozzarella, plus a hint of basil from the Berwick Street Market where these guys started out.
Now, my boss makes a pretty good pizza, but it’s still not quite up to this level. To take something that so often becomes about size, quantity and sheer numbers of ingredients (did you know you can now apparently get onion bhaji on a pizza, and kebab as well?), and to keep it so traditionally simple is a salute to pizza’s roots. Good quality ingredients formed into a great meal in one, with each flavour shining through, making you appreciate every single one of them.
They may not be in Naples, but I’m sure Pizza Pilgrims would be praised by many a Neapolitan for doing them proud. I can now see why my boss was so inspired by his first trip here, it’s enough to make you want to buy your own pizza oven and give it a go.
Thanks Pizza Pilgrims, I’ll be back!
I paid for our pizza in Pizza Pilgrims.