As a vegetarian, Italian food is always a favourite as you are guaranteed to have enough to choose from. I really like pasta, gnocchi, scamorza, bruschetta et al, but I just love good pizza. For me, the best pizza has a thin, crisp base with a puffy, golden crust, a tangy, rich tomato sauce and just enough topping to satisfy without swimming in cheese.
My favourite pizzeria in London is La Porchetta. It is tucked away in the north end of Clerkenwell, just off Exmouth Market. It is never too busy to get a table, the staff are really friendly, and the decor it bright and fun (with the little pig motif dotted around) without all the kitsch Italiana that is usually found in these places. OK, well just enough kitsch Italiana to be fun. And, of course, it serves really great pizza.
Why is it so good? For starters, the pizza is prepared in an area at the back the restaurant. There is no chance for the pizza chef to hide from hungry diners, as you can see him work the dough and spin it out into a big, eh, pizza using his hands before your very eyes. When the pizza comes (which usually happens quite quickly, also a plus), the base is as I like it, thin and crisp, and the sauce actually tastes of tomato, rather than just being a bland red paste. Tangy, fruity and just a touch of sweetness. They are also more than happy to customise your toppings and – something of a rarity in London – they actually get them right.
The location is also convenient – it is a few minutes walk from Sadlers Wells dance theatre, so good for pre-theater bite to eat, and you have the bars of Exmouth Market if you want to keep the socialising going into the small hours.
As I go here a lot, I also have the benefit of seeing how they perform over a number of visits, and the pizza is consistently good. I used to live round the corner from La Porchetta, and it was the takeaway of choice. When I moved, I missed it and still live in hope that they might decide to open a new restaurant in the neighbourhood. I still go quite often, and am even starting to get into the “limoncello zone”. They clearly know how to keep their regulars sweet!
La Porchetta, 84 – 86 Rosebery Avenue, Clerkenwell, London EC1R 4QY. Tel: 020 7837 6060. Tube: Angel or Farringdon.
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