Review: Pizza East Kentish Town

Some well-priced pizzas starting at £6, a gorgeous interior – and an undeniable buzz at the bar. We are liking this new addition to K-Town’s dining scene very much

Pizza East Kentish Town_004

When The Kentishtowner first revealed news that Soho House Group were touching down in NW5, readers went potty. We witnessed unprecedented, almost feverish excitement, with gossiping and retweeting aplenty. The buzz hasn’t let up since, further fuelled by the revelations that this third branch of the Pizza East chain would be accompanied by a brand new Chicken Shop concept in its basement and Dirty Burgers round the, ahem, tradesman’s entrance too.

So we hotfooted it over at lunchtime today in an attempt to land a meal that was affordable, yet delivered an experience worthy of all the local hype.

Arriving at midday to ensure we bagged a table, the place filled up fast around us, but that wasn’t any surprise. The totally re-imagined interior – a bit too cavernous in its Grand Union days – can (and will) fit dozens due to the clever counter for diners facing some attractive white tiled ovens.

Design-led industrial touches, dark wood floors and loft-style steel windows add to the overall zeitgeisty experience and staff are extremely, almost unsettlingly attentive (although not necessarily knowledgeable).

Immediately, we were pleased to see that prices are keen. This is a realistic lunch option for the legions of office workers nearby, many of whom were already eagerly occupying tables or already busy gobbling down interesting looking pizzas.

Sticking to our entry-level remit, we plumped for a classic margarita. At £6 it’s simply excellent value, particularly when stacked up against those of dramatically lower quality served up pretty much everywhere. Its easy-going flavours danced a merry little jig across the palate, while the dough veered between crisp/light and stretchy/moist across every bite, all with a woodfired kick.

Sea bream with olives and tomatoes (£13) proved a deliciously fresh and light alternative for the non-pizza lover. Garlic bread was weighted heavy with hot butter and serious amounts of bold, juicy garlic, plus an abundance of rosemary. It made us too guilty to have dessert. The bill? Just over £30 for two including soft drinks and service.

At last night’s launch it’s also worth mentioning that we tried the porchetta, mozzarella, tomato and rosemary (£11), the first ‘pork pizza’ we’d ever sampled – and the crackling and tender slow-cooked pork belly worked surprisingly well. Proscuitto cotto (£9) with soft, creamy buffalo ricotta was also salty and delish (and possibly our top recommendation should you need it).

A gripe? Wine served in tumblers is annoyingly en vogue, but it never really does a good white justice. And we imagine the menu will be quite familiar for those who have visited the Shoreditch or Portobello branches, but of course, the point of dining here is that it now serves these dishes in Kentish Town. Yup, Pizza East KT knows what it’s doing and is already doing it effortlessly well.

The buzz feels justified. NW5-ers (and others) will be tweeting their glee for the foreseeable.

Words & Pics: Tom Kihl

This is box title
Pizza East. 53-79 Highgate Road. Meal for 2 without drinks around £35
Kentishtowner Rating 8/10


  • Show Comments

  • T

    Does it take bookings or is it one of those no-reservations places?

    • Kentishtowner

      Good point. It takes bookings (I believe) although we just showed up.

  • Lucy Bridgers

    Really looking forward to going, but totally agree with the comment about wine served in tumblers. Grrrr. If this persists it could spark a new trend: BYOG = bring your own glasses.

  • Nikhil Shah

    Are the other restaurants (Dirty Burger and Chicken Shop) open?

  • Michael wood

    I tried Dirty Burger for lunch. Friendly service, a wonderfully moist and mustardy burger, slightly over-salted crinkly fries, washed down with a pint of Camden Ale (I’d ordered a half but who’s complaining). Unbelievably it was all half price while they get up to speed.

  • Surfie2011

    had lunch today there too – good value and good food. Need to dial down the service though – and how many staff have they employed? they were everywhere….

  • NW5

    A temple of reclaimed cliche… nevertheless it’ll be good fun having it down the road.

    Any evangelic burger types needn’t make the journey for Dirty Burger… deeply average.

  • Tim

    How about a review of the best (and worst) pizzas in K-Town, including all the independents as well as the big chain joints for tourists like Soho House?

  • Michelle

    No booking yet , so I turns up at 2 pm … no more service. I tried to book for Saturday .. no reservation system yet ! toooo trendy ! The back “dirt Breakfast ‘ section opens from & am , egs and abcon and unsanded tabels . It will be intersting if the local bulders and Murphy Drivers go for it .

  • crush

    what is wrong with a proper wine glass?

  • Dawn

    Why do the not have the menu and prices shown outside, all three of the restaurants, its a bit silly having to go in and look at the prices and menu inside only.

  • Wendy

    Went today for lunch, had the excellent proscuitto and ricotta pizza, VERY generous with toppings, it felt like about £6 of proscuitto on there! Even the chili oil was better than usual. The wait staff was very friendly, and they confirmed that there will be takeaway available soon. The table next to me got some kind of charcuterie platter that drew a lot of oohs and aahs.

  • Paul

    Went to Pizza East today for lunch. Distinctly average pizza, the only thing that was any good was the dough. Poor service also, far too many staff and quite frankly just not good enough.

  • MB

    Tuesday 28th Aug. Arrived at 8.30 as per table booking and were greeted by utterly charmless young lady who wanted to argue the toss over the booking time, incorrectly insisting we were booked for 8.45. Imagine you’re the person who’s invested untold amounts of cash into transforming this vibe less space into a hipster friendly hang out and then some idiot has stationed a completely customer unfriendly being at the first point of contact. Next up, Wild Salmon starter unavailable. Food that was available was pretty ok. We ate it in an atmosphere that was presumably meant to be buzzing but actually felt like constant low level harrassment from staff who constantly peered quizzically at our table, on one occasion shaking my beer bottle to see if it was empty (it was half full) and offering the very opposite of a warm, looked after feeling.
    Lovely toilets though.
    Charitable, two word review: completely underwhelmed

  • Ann Thomas

    Oh what a shame,

    Was really excited about the new opening of this eatery. Four of us dined there on Saturday evening on my recommendation and whilst we ate I listened silently to the comments around the table.
    Head down I had to agree.

    Staff overwhelming wasn’t sure if they were just being too attentive or to maximise amount of customers wishing to dine there. (In and out asap please) Back off!! Tumblers used for wine, why? reminds me of something the elderly drop their false teeth in before they go to bed at night. Food too salty, common problem if your Chef smokes.

    Tip. Rather than your 50% discount, get customers into your restuarant to sample the menu and listen to their frank reviews before you open so that you have the chance to get it right first time.
    You will not be able to rely on the decor and atmosphere to keep up a full house.

  • steve williams

    garlic bread was great , pizzas over priced average !

  • Paula

    So mediocre , style over content ! When we first turned up the lady on reception who is supposed to be there to greet you an be friendly and helpful was so rude and unhelpful. She made a point of then being outright argumentative when I asked if we could have a bigger table ( there was 6 of us day round a squashed table) as the bigger table was empty all night till we left ! But to no avail would she give us the bigger table !!! She also made a point of staring at us and making us feel uncomfortable!!!
    Then the pizza was missing one of the main ingredient and had to wait another 15 minutes for a new pizza to be made ! They also brought the wrong flavour ice cream. At this point a couldn’t be bothered to argue or complain but left shortly after that ! So dissapointed at the service it was terrible and very unfriendly !!! Over priced too for what you get ! Again too pretentious and not a good restaraunt !