On Location: Oost Pizzeria (Oost, Amsterdam)

This is the last in the recent wave of Dutch-themed post. On my recent trip to the Netherlands, I arrived back late in Amsterdam from a couple of days in the Dutch outback (subsisting mainly on beer and gouda cheese), and thoughts inevitably turned to a decent pizza. We went with our host to a pizzeria in the Oost district of Amsterdam which, in a clear moment of inspiration on the part of the owner, was called Oost.

I am always struck by just how different a neighbourhood restaurants is in other cities as compared to London. Even in good old N16, places are often rammed, loud and you need to book. Other places just don’t seem to be as busy, and I love being able to decide to go somewhere, entering, choosing a table and sitting down. Sounds strange, but living in a city where you can end up fighting strangers for table space, this is a rare treat. Oost is just such a relaxed “easy” place. The menu is pretty straightforward – simple antipasti, half a dozen pasta dishes, a dozen pizzas, and they just seem to get on with what they are trying to do very well.

We went for a selection of crostini (mozzarella/tomato, mushrooms with truffle oil, and goat’s cheese and fig jam) which really hit the spot. I was going to take the mushroom/truffle version, but then decided in the interests of trying new things, the goat’s cheese with fig was the way to go, and frankly I am glad I did. I first had fig jam a few weeks ago on a visit to Brussels fell in love with it, and I am happy to report that I am still in a very meaningful relationship with the candied fruits of ficus carica. This had a light sweetness and freshness that you often do not get when goat’s cheese is coupled with honey. In short, yum.

For the main, it was, of course, a pizza. I went for one with artichoke, goat’s cheese and rocket. I realise that this is actually a phenomenal amount of goat’s cheese in one meal and it was surely a sign that I was not really thinking about what I was doing after spending hours stuck in motorway traffic coming back into Amsterdam, but I happen to love goat’s cheese, so not really an issue. Anyway, the pizza was fab – nice and crispy and with a generous amount of toppings, but not overloaded It was also surprisingly light – I typically ask for less mozzarella on pizzas as they can often be very greasy, but this one was not. All in all, a nice dish. It doesn’t (quite) beat my favourite in London, but as they are clearly not competing, I guess I never have to choose between them.

For dessert, I plumped for the affogato (espresso over vanilla ice-cream). This was nice, but I have had better (yup, we’re back to LondonEats’ favourite pizzeria in Clerkenwell again). My own preference is for very cold ice-cream, so that when the espresso goes over, the ice-cream stays very firm. It is also important that the ice-cream is not too sweet, so that the flavour of the coffee shines alongside the vanilla, rather than just supporting it. The ice-cream was still good (if just a touch softer than I like it), but I appreciated the hazelnut macaroon biscuit with it, which made for a contrasting texture with the ice-cream and coffee.

Would I go again? Definitely. The food was very nice, and if the only weak point was that the dessert was good rather than stellar, I can live with this. The decor is fresh and inviting, the service friendly and, when summer comes, one very impressive looking south-facing terrace. Bring on the sunshine, and I may well be back.

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