On a Sunday just before Christmas I met a girlfriend (this one) for lunch at Pizza East in Notting Hill. I had been to the original one, the one that is actually East, but not this new branch at the top of Portobello Road. The decor is a bit warmer and cosier than the Shoreditch branch; there are hams hanging from the ceiling, bright blue chairs, and black and white chequered floor tiles. It feels much more like a local trattoria than a hip new restaurant. It was also packed, half with hair-flipping, air-kissing beautiful people, half with large extended families with kids running amok.
We ordered mimosas to drink. Perhaps not my usual drink of choice, but it felt festively appropriate. We then both ordered pizzas (duh). There were a couple of other things on the menu but it seemed like the only viable option (although my friend has since been back and says the macaroni cheese is incredible). I had one with rosemary, leeks and salty bacon. And cheese. Lots and lots of melted, stringy, slightly tangy cheese. The crust was puffed up and soft, the base thin and crisp. I’m going to put my neck out and say it was one of the best pizzas I have ever had. My friend had one with a half a pig on it. The meat was roasted so there were lots of crunchy bits and the rest was chewy and tender. We were both in cheese and meat heaven, the best, in my opinion, of all the food heavens.
Whoever came up with the idea of combining chocolate and caramel with sea salt is a genius. It sounds so wrong, yet it is just so right. The salted chocolate caramel tart was incredible. It was sweet. It was rich. It was salty. It had a crisp buttery base that Paul Hollywood could have tapped and not found fault with. It had a pile of whipped cream on the side, and toasted almonds on top. It was better than sex. With Ryan Gosling. In the rain.
We left feeling very full and satisfied. It is the sort of food that cures hangovers and soothes broken hearts. It is also liable to clog your arteries in just one sitting, but when it tastes this good, I am willing to let them take the hit.