Pizza Pilgrims in Covent Garden
James and Thom Elliot, the brothers behind London’s hippest Neapolitan pizza joint Pizza Pilgrims have opened their latest outpost on buzzing Garrick Street, a stone’s throw away from Covent Garden and Leicester Square’s shopping and theatre districts.
Decked out with some super-retro interiors, the vibe within is old-school diner, complete with wipe-clean chequered tablecloths, school-style chairs, wooden benches and some low-hanging green lampshades, all of which afford the place with a casual, no-fuss feel.
With just ten pizzas featured on the menu, the food offering is honest and humble, as well as uncompromising on quality. Certainly, the ingredients are top-notch, placed upon doughy rounds hand-kneaded by the pizzaiolos who generously apply plentiful fresh and cured toppings, showcasing the importance of authenticity above all. The result is deliciously squidgy pizzas that are made with San Marzano tomatoes and creamy mozzarella, showcasing the Neapolitan ingredients so integral to this style of feeding.
Keen to try a couple of the more spicy pizzas on the menu, we opt for the Nduja, which is their classic margherita pizza, made with tomato, fior di latte, parmesan, basil and olive oil, finished off with spicy Calabrian pork sausage. The latter offers just the right amount of spice and is perfectly soft on the tongue, while the combination with the cheese is salty, creamy and a joy to eat.
Our second choice comes in the form of the Salsiccia e Friarelli, a white pizza made with fresh fennel sausage, chilli, wild broccoli, parmesan, basil and olive oil. The sausage here lives up to its description with a strong hit of fennel and added warmth from the fresh chillies sliced across the pizza. The balance between the ingredients is just right, with both sweetness and bitterness from the broccoli creating a predominantly mild, yet enjoyable, experience.
Alongside our mains are a couple of side dishes in the form of a flatbread made with garlic, rosemary and parmesan, and a plate of buffalo mozzarella, smoked tomatoes and rocket. The bread is packed full of fresh garlic and is beautifully fragrant thanks to just the right amount of rosemary, while the mozzarella is deliciously creamy yet light, cut through with a fleshy sweetness from the tomatoes.
We wash all of this down with a couple of cocktails: a Hazelnut Espresso Martini and a Pococello Sour. The first, despite being a little too sweet and lacking in the promised hazelnut taste, offers a smooth coffee that is still refreshing. The second is just the right amount of sour and is easy to drink, with a little fragrance added from the basil leaves incorporated.
Finishing off the meal with sweet options, we work our way through vanilla ice cream from nearby gelateria Gelupo – an Affogato, topped with a shot of hot espresso, as well as second choice with a more unusual topping of extra virgin olive oil and salt. Unfortunately, these do not show off the high quality nature of this famous gelato, with some too-frozen bites and a strange outcome from the olive oil that is just a little too virgin and overpowering.
The in-and-out vibe, and the quality of taste and texture of every pizza, make the new Pizza Pilgrims location a go-to spot for a quick meal while in the area, or an easy hangout with friends.
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To book a table at Pizza Pilgrims, 23 Garrick Street London WC2E 9BN, call 0207 240 4145 or visit here.