Best 7 Independent Pizza Outlets in NW5 (that aren’t Pizza East)


It’s been a little over 2 months since the heralded arrival of Soho House’s Pizza East on Highgate Road changed …



It’s been a little over 2 months since the heralded arrival of Soho House’s Pizza East on Highgate Road changed the local dining landscape in slick and dramatic fashion. Yet far from suffer, most local restaurants report that business is good, probably better, than pre-PE. The foodies are flocking and there’s enough room at the table for everyone to enjoy their share of the pizza pie.

But what of the local pizza specialists? That’s got to be a tougher call, right? Well, the bar has certainly been raised, but that presents a perfect opportunity to show us all what they can do. So in search of pizza perfection elsewhere in the ‘hood, we loosened our belts and headed out to bring you the pick of the indie alternatives – Kentish Town’s ‘other’ destinations for a slice of the good stuff…

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1= Delicious

Delicious by Franco (to give it its full name) is run by a Venetian family who, as we recently reported, dish up more than decent fare in their tiny check-clothed trattoria. The low-ceilinged setting may be miniscule, but the pizzas here are expansive in their flavour and delivered with pleasingly authentic Italian passion. We loved the Calabrese – velvety buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto and basil (main pic above) that tasted just as good when reheated for breakfast the next day (£9.90). Marguerita (£7.50) benefited from the use of top quality tomatoes and cheese (we always hold the marguerita as a benchmark, and therefore tested one out at all the restaurants in this feature… phew!). Also recommended is the Napoletana (£8.50), with anchovy, juicy capers and decent olives. 32 Kentish Town Road.
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  • Pizza: 8
  • Value: 8
  • Atmosphere: 8
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1= Pane Vino

Pane Vino is an institution but owner Stefania nearly put it on the market this summer so don’t take it for granted. Their pizzas are absolute classics, but the Marguerita, at a steep £7.90, proved the least tasty. Happily a phenomenal Bufala with creamy Buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and basil pesto (£10.50) more than delivered. Unctuous. As did Sarda (£10.90), with Pecorino, cured boar ham and rocket packing in umami flavours. Giardiniera (£10.50) with grilled veg, red onions and capers (pic), was choc-a-block with five-a-day goodness. Even a Napoletana (£9.90) packed in lovely salty anchovy, however at £10+ these are amongst the pricier local options. 323 Kentish Town Road.
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  • Pizza: 9
  • Value: 7
  • Atmosphere: 6
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3. Stingray Cafe

Stingray’s website says they offer traditional Italian pizza, but the Kentishtowner was reminded more of the pies in New York. Well cooked in a gas oven, the huge 14-inch slabs have a full flavoured tomato sauce, a good layer of stringy mozzarella, and the toppings are generous and stay on the lips for at least an hour afterwards. It’s also probably the cheapest option in all NW5, a drink and a pizza at lunch for £5.95 is pretty unbeatable. The Stingray Special is an avocado and smoked salmon creation, but who needs that when their American Hot blows the ubiquitous Pizza Express version clean out the water? The most expensive pizza here is £6.50. You’ll really never do better for value. It’s also comfortable and relaxing, but lost marks on our visit for deciding to bleach the counter just as food was being served. Cafe Renoir have the very same nasty habit. 135 Fortess Road.
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  • Pizza: 8
  • Value: 10
  • Atmosphere: 6
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4. Al Parco

We love Al Parco, especially their house salads, but their Marguerita pizza is an unexciting offering. Not very unctuous, with a very average cheese/tomato ratio. It boasts a decent thin crust, but at £6.50 it’s 50p more than the superior one to be found just down the road at Pizza East. Meanwhile, the Giardiniera (£8.70) was populated with lovely artichokes, mushrooms, aubergines, and courgettes but lacked a real wow factor. Still a perfectly competent affair, and the restaurant remains a great out-of-K-Town ‘destination’ that can be combined with walking some of the meal off via the Heath. 2 Highgate West Hill.
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  • Pizza: 6
  • Value: 7
  • Atmosphere: 8
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5. Spaghetti House

Legendary Spaghetti House has been a Tufnell Park institution pretty much since week one back in 1976. The celebrated seafood is one thing, but at knock-down prices, BYOB, and a great family atmosphere, this place absolutely deserves its status as a North London treasure. Decent amounts of quality, thick mozerella made up for the good-but-not-great flavours of a Quattro Stagioni. Meanwhile their Pepperoni pizza kicked but didn’t bite. Prices all range somewhere between £6.50 and £8.50 for a 12-incher, which isn’t at all bad, and it becomes 10/10 for value if you’re bringing your own booze. 169 Fortess Road.
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  • Pizza: 7
  • Value: 8
  • Atmosphere: 9
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6. Rossella

Being a mere dough ball’s throw from Pizza East, you’d think Rossella would have their work cut out pulling in any pizza seekers at all. But their traditional trattoria setting and safe menu are proving a welcome alternative. Using good quality, finely ground flour for the base, their £5 Marguerita is a classic if not particularly inspiring take on our benchmark slice. There’s a strong emphasis on preparing food the way diners like it here, so ‘Create Your Own’ pizzas are popular. We added fresh rocket, red onion and mushrooms for another serviceable enough choice. It’s just a shame the toppings are so basic. A few more marinated antipasti options would really raise the game and keep those looking for a less frenetic Highgate Rd pizza experience interested too. 103 Highgate Road.
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  • Pizza: 6
  • Value: 8
  • Atmosphere: 7
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7. Itta

We were excited about the relaunch of Itta, with their Farrow & Ball repaint and refreshed interior. But swinging by on a quiet lunchtime we were positively disappointed by poor pizza of 1980s qualities. Cornmeal on the dough meant a gritty taste with each mouthful, exacerbated on the bread-heavy Verdura Veggie calzone (£7.50) with goat’s cheese. Then it was dried herbs and no sign of torn buffalo mozzarella on the Bufalina. The tomato sauce taste was so overriding and acidic that our stomachs positively ached afterwards. No unctuousness here and poor service too (even when we were standing at the counter the two staff continued to sit at their table and chat), combined with what proves to be a less inspiring reboot once inside. Verdict? Will need to do a lot better in the face of the stiff competition. 225 Kentish Town Road.
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  • Pizza: 4
  • Value: 6
  • Atmosphere: 4
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Research: Stephen Emms, Tom Kihl, Tim Sowula

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Find all these pizza joints on a map by pressing the ‘Nearby’ button at the top of this page

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  • Show Comments

  • Brian

    Dear Kentishtowner. When you write reviews etc, could you say where the place reviewed is eg 50m north of Kentish Town tube station?

    BB

    • Kentishtowner

      Hi Brian, that’s exactly what our new ‘Nearby’ button does. We’re developing the system further, but give it a go and let us know what you think so far. You’ll also find links via each restaurant’s page on the map that take you to their Google+ Local page too, for even more detailed info…

  • Jamie

    Well this is a subject very close to my heart. I’m surprised my personal favourite Nuraghe didn’t make the list as they do a very good pizza indeed, plus they are the friendliest restaurant in NW5 by a mile..

    • Ben

      Agree re the friendliness, although I’m yet to sample the pizzas there. The restaurant as a whole hasn’t been reviewed by the KT – time that was rectified!

    • Kentishtowner

      Sounds like a Nuraghe review should be added to our schedule immediately. Watch this space.

      • Rose Wild

        Yes Nuraghe is lovely. They’re incredibly friendly. Just order what’s on spcial and you can’t go wrong.
        Rose

  • Tom

    The pizza I had at pizza east a few weeks ago was the worst I have had in a long time, dominoes would have been preferable. Too salty, foul toppings, cold…good to know there are better options out there.
    I do love Chicken shop though, this is not an anti Soho house rant.

  • Neil

    Actually, I finally went to Pizza East last week (I say finally as I work and live five minutes away) and thought that everything about it was really great apart from my pizza (speck), which was quite bland, and my friend also liked the place a lot but felt her pizza wasn’t great.
    Will try some of the others you recommend, Delicious first I guess.

    • Dan

      I agree. I’d go again, but for the ambiance and the service, definitely not for the pizza. Also tried their chicken salad once … incredibly scarce on the chicken, considering how much there was running around in the basement.

  • Yasmin

    What about the pizzas at Aces n Eights in Tufnell Park? Or is it just me who has discovered this gem…

  • Michelle

    I agree Yasmine – Aces & Eights is definitely worth a try, and they do take away. Shame The Hideaway isn’t quite in NW5 as that would definitely have made my list.

  • Jamie

    It’s a shame Pizzeria Melanzana on Fortess Road didn’t last as they were, for a time, the best local delivery option IMHO. Always wondered why they kept the Japanese part of the business going but stopped doing pizza, especially with the vastly superiour Satuma being so close.

  • Brian

    The Nearby button didn’t work for me but even if it did, it would be no substitute for a few words as part of the text. Let the nearby button be an optional extra please!
    BB

    • PizzaFace

      It didn’t work for me either. It just gives me a map of my current location and even that wasn’t right.

      For such a well-written and useful article – and website in general – it seems odd to not include such basic information as the address of each restaurant.

      • Kentishtowner

        Hi PizzaFace, here’s how to use the Nearby button: stand in NW1 or NW5 and press it. Everything we have written about will come up on the map. You may need to scroll across the map to find more outlets as we’re still building it. You can select restaurants or bars or shops. We have also now added the address of each restaurant to this feature. Good luck!

  • liam

    I went to Pane Vino last night on the recommendation of this article and was not disappointed, really amazing pizza and the service was tip-top too. We walked past pizza east on the way down and it was absolutely packed, whereas Pane Vino was pretty quiet. It’s a real shame that these hype restaurants really are generating such levels of business, especially because it shows how sheeplike we are all becoming.

  • Raoul

    You’re missing out Murat at Aces & Eights (probably the best bases and chilli oil in NW5) and the Hideaway – even lighter bases, but the toppings aren’t quite up to Murat’s – still very good though! Nuranghe is excellent too, would take all of these above Stingray (great bases but stingy on toppings and Spaghetti house where I’ve found the quality to be variable).

  • dn

    It would also help to know which of the discussed places really make their own dough and pizza rather than buy it frozen. Al Parco is unbeatable in this respect, everything’s fresh and hot and doesn’t come out of the MWave.

  • Nick

    Very disappointing that Itta is continuing its downward slide but you’re dead right about the gritty and over dry taste of the dough. It’s a shame because when it first appeared, Itta made a seriously good pizza that I feel pretty confident would have been number 1 on the list. The guys are good eggs in there but seem a bit tired of making pizzas these days which I suppose is reflected in what they are turning out!

    Come on lads!

  • Julian

    Went to Stingray last week and it was pretty disappointing. Not a patch on Delicious or Rosella not to mention Pizza East.

  • Veronica

    Dear Kentish towner…me and my partner just opened a pizza take a way and delivery in 195 Royal College street…please come to check it out, you font be disappointed!!! Woof fired oven, spread my amazing italian pizza makers using best organic British ingredients!!! http://www.organicapizzacompany.co.uk!