Being Italian, I am asked all the time to recommend Italian restaurants in London. I always struggle. It’s really hard to find good quality Italian food in the Big Smoke; to the point that when I eat out, I don’t go to Italian restaurants (apart from Trullo, but head-chef Tim Siadatan is British).
My first advice is to avoid chains at all costs. Forget Pizza Express, Zizzi’s, Prezzo, La Porchetta..That’s not the real deal. The second advice is, head to your nearest tube station, get a Travelcard – Zone 3 included - and jump on the first train to Ealing Broadway. Yes, I am not joking!
Here is where you can sample one of the best and authentic pizzas in London in perfect Neapolitan style.
Santa Maria is a tiny little restaurant, sitting around 30 people, a good 10 minute walk from Ealing Broadway station. But believe me, it’s worth the effort of the trip.
They operate a non-booking policy, so you either need to turn up early (6.30PM) – like I did last week when I visited with a couple of fellow Italians – or leave your name and wait for your table, having a drink at the next door pub.
The decor is pretty basic, as you would expect in any real pizzeria, with some quirky touches. The king of the restaurant, the wood fired oven, is located right in the middle of the dining room. Service is really friendly and knowledgable.
It was the three of us, and we ordered two Santa Bufalina – Tomato sauce, buffalo D.O.C. mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, Parmesan, fresh basil £8.95 – and San Gennaro – Tomato sauce, Italian mozzarella, anchovies, black olives, capers, Parmesan cheese, extra virgin olive oil, oregano, fresh basil £8.95
All perfectly executed, crispy crust, high quality toppings, flown in from Italy.
To end our meal in style, we also ordered a couple of Tiramisu desserts. Heaven! Almost as good as my own!
I just wish Santa Maria was closer! This is the real deal.