Having enjoyed a rather indulgent week of burgers, take-away pizza, tapas and mangoes, the wife and I had resolved to put a stop to any meals out for a little while. Whilst we hadn't spent a great deal on food, it would have done us good to cease our waistline-troubling frippery. Then, the day after Barrafina, we had no idea what to do in the evening. So we went out for dinner. It was late on Saturday, we didn't feel like cooking, so in our defence, dinner out made sense.
Shoddy rationalisation aside, we fancied a proper Italian meal out. I had been motivated by the master of comfort food whom had curated our visit to Joe Allen. Daniel Young's list of the best 10 pizzas in London is a mouth-watering read and it was with this in mind that we ventured up to Notting Hill for some rustic, filling dinner. Devotees may recall the wife and I made a pilgrimage to what was supposed to be London's best pizza place a couple of years ago and pretty awesome it was too. I was surprised to see Santa Maria not on the Young & Foodish list at all but the number one spot certainly merited investigation.
There was a summer special on which neither of us needed much encouragement to order: spaghettini al tartufo (right). With black summer truffle and spaghetti costing only £10, it was one of the most reasonably priced dishes I can remember eating last year. The flavour was far from overpowering, with fresh truffles perfectly complimenting the thick, rich butter sauce & parmesan on top of perfectly cooked pasta. It was a glorious plate of food.
After such amazing starters, we were fairly sure the pizza was going to be worth the trip. Unfortunately we were both pretty full after the appetisers but the mission was to eat pizza, so we ordered two. Now no pizza place can be put through its paces properly unless a margherita is ordered. Only here it's called a 'marinara' which I suppose makes sense (left). Instantly we could tell that this was serious pizza: proper thin, crisp dough with some chewiness in the middle. The sauce was rich and comforting, the basil a welcome addition, the pizza terrific.
We also tried the Pomodorini, Rucola e Crudo pizza, a more upmarket and drier proposition (right). This included sublime matured san Daniele ham and cherry tomatoes with some rocket to cut through the richness of the meat. This was possibly even better than the first pizza, offering a little more in terms of variation, in both texture and taste. The dough again was perfect, with the toppings coming together to ensure a quite wonderful dish.
Of course we were far too full to finish both pizzas, taking away the remnants for Sunday's dinner. To answer the question of whether or not this place is actually the best in London..? It is one year on (to the day) and I can recall every part of this meal with clarity and fondness to the degree that it just has to be. Incredible, reasonably-priced pizzas ably supported by an array of perfect Italian dishes from a charming restaurant. Life doesn't get much better.