Oct 15 2013

Pizza Pilgrims


I do love a good pizza, it is one of my weaknesses, and I had read that Pizza Pilgrims does an excellent pizza, so I had to go there. Pizza Pilgrims started as three-wheeled food van in late 2011 that would usually be based in Berwick Street Market, and sell their freshly made pizzas in the van to the public in the market. As they became quite popular they also opened a restaurant in Soho in August 2013, where you can go and try their delicious pizza in a better/ more relaxed/ not on the street environment. But before starting with the pizza van, the pizza pilgrims were two brothers, Thom and James Elliot, who quit their jobs and traveled through Italy to research pizza that they would serve in their van.

You can’t book a table at Pizza Pilgrims and because of this, I wanted to go there relatively early and so arranged to meet my friend Vitalik there at 6.30pm. The pizza pilgrims restaurant was easy to spot as the sign from the outside is in a green colour. When I entered the restaurant, I was asked whether I wanted to sit upstairs or downstairs, and I chose downstairs. Their main pizza oven is located upstairs as well as the kitchen and apparently they built the oven from scratch, and they call it Michaelangelo, as it resembles a turtle (like the teenage mutant ninja turtle – they chose to name it after the Italian sounding one). Upstairs there are also a few tables located by the window, where you can sit next to each other as opposed to in front of each other, and as I said, I opted to go sit downstairs, which is a much larger room with tables where you can sit and face each other. At 6.30 only a few tables were occupied, but when we left the restaurant was full and there were people at the door waiting to be seated.

The décor downstairs is what you would imagine a cheap, good little pizza place 20 years ago in Italy to look like. The tables are located very close together, so if you want to, you can eavesdrop on your neighbors, there are green chequered tablecloths on tables and ’60s Italian film posters around the room. The menu is short and sweet and as my friend Vitalik said, he thinks the best places are the ones that focus on a few things but do them well. The menu lists 10 pizzas from £7 to £11 and 5 starters/ side dishes from £3 to £8. I also very much liked their cool Italian cocktails on the menu, like negroni or spritz and ordered a negroni myself.

After studying the menu there were 3 pizzas that caught my attention, so I chose 2 and Vitalik and I shared them. The first pizza that I chose was a pizza called “nduja” that was a margherita pizza (tomato, basil and olive oil) and spicy Calabrian sausage called nduja, and the second one was called “Artichoke, ricotta and smoked garlic oil” that essentially was a margherita topped with the above, and both cost £9. We also chose 2 sides, the Berwick street market green salad and Vitalik really wanted the mozzarella and peppers. I first tasted the nduja pizza and that was delicious. I loved the base of the pizza and it was extremely soft and super super thin, apparently this is how it is done in Naples, and I very much liked the nduja, it was delicious and spicy. Vitalik said he likes spicy food but this was too hot for him and so he did not like this pizza that much and preferred the one with artichokes and ricotta. I always talk about how much I like Pizza Express pizzas and I don’t come across that many places that do a better pizza, and this pizza did. It was absolutely delicious and now if I ever fancy a pizza, Pizza Pilgrims would be a serious contender for a place to visit.

There were problems with the artichoke and ricotta pizza though. I saw three pizzas being brought to the table next to us, including the artichoke and ricotta pizza, and when the table said they had only ordered two, and not the artichoke one, they took it away. 5 minutes later they brought us our pizzas. Vitalik complained that he did not understand why, but his ricotta and artichoke pizza seemed cold and he thought this was strange considering how quickly they brought them out. At that point I did think that they were probably serving us the pizza that I had seen them take to the other table, as I did try it and it was indeed cold, and a stark contrast to the hot nduja pizza. I can see why they did it, not wanting to waste a pizza, but bringing a customer a cold pizza is not cool. As for the taste, I did quite like it, loved the ricotta and the artichokes, and Vitalik liked this more than the nduja pizza although I preferred the nduja one.

As for the sides, the side salad with spinach and capers was quite nice. Plain, but nice to have with the pizza. I also like the mozzarella with the peppers, although we could not each much of it, as we were feeling so full from the pizzas. The side dishes though are ok, but pizza definitely is the main star of the meal, so you should focus on this.

We also wanted to get some deserts, and the only things that they had were ice creams and sorbets from the nearby Gelupo shop in Soho (owned by the same people that own Bocca di Lupo, one of my favourite Italian restaurants). We ordered a blood orange sorbet which was served in an orange skill and was very lovely and Vitalik said he usually does not like these sort of things, and really liked this sorbet.

Note this place is not one to linger in. We spent 2h there but on average people spend an hour, as they bring the pizzas so quickly, literally less than 10 minutes after you order them (and I later read that this is because they have this incredible monster oven that heats up to 500C so it can cook a pizza in 50 seconds), and so the meal is very quick, as there are no starters, just pizzas and the sides that you order with them. I think we really annoyed the waitresses for staying there so long up to a point where they just brought us the bill and put it on our table, which is not great.

I very much enjoyed the pizza (the one that was warm) at Pizza Pilgrims. As I already said, it is one of the best pizzas I have had in a while, if I will be craving pizza, this restaurant will definitely be one of the ones I think off and I love the cool cocktails, casual atmosphere (note though Vitalik did not like it and thought it was too loud and had problems hearing me) and the affordable prices. The negatives though were the cold pizza and the service that tried to throw you out as soon as you had finished your meal.

Date: 15/ 10/ 13
Location: Soho
Price for 2 people with alcohol and service charge: £67.50 (but £30 of this was one bottle of wine, so without wine, it would be £37.50)

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Maija rated: 



Pizza Pilgrims
11 Dean Street, W1D 3RP
United Kingdom
Pizza Pilgrims Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 3.5