Doesn’t it feel like millions of years since the very long-running Pizza East shut its doors, lamented here by Giles Coren?
And then, just as the new incarnation – yep, it’s three words not two – was about to open, Covid hit. And suddenly the whole world was on pause.
Fast forward to as recently as two days ago, and the bar finally flung open its doors. The 6,500 square ft space is now owned by Urban Leisure, who are behind moderately hip venues such as The Elgin in Maida Vale, Alice House in West Hampstead, Coin Laundry in Exmouth Market and Ask for Janice in Smithfield.
Split across two floors, the team promise a “community-focused space”, featuring live music, with home-brewed beers, wine, and cocktails on tap. A 125ml of house red was a reasonable £4 last night: not bad.
If you were a fan of the famous Pizza East wood-fired ovens, they are still in situ, and the pizza menu looks a little more upmarket, in fact.
And overall, to be honest, the feel is very similar: just a bit more open-planned, with no curving central bar as before, and a lot more loungey. There are houseplants, shelves, books, rugs, leather banquettes: it’s definitely more casual than its predecessor. We like the repurposed Dirty Burger as mini pool hall (see pic, above) too.
And what of the subterranean level? Well, what was once poultry’s hottest outlet is now a rather vast – was it always that big? – music venue, with a drum kit in place as a statement of intent, should bands ever resume playing live.
Oh, they can already, with a carefully socially distanced crowd, you say? Perfect timing all round then, Never For Ever.
Never For Ever is open daily at 79 Highgate Road NW5, more info here