What? The award-winning pizzeria, that started life off in a teeny tiny site in Ealing, has now made it to the magic number with the launch of their third restaurant, Santa Maria Fitzrovia.
New? Brand, spanking, can still smell the paint, new. Following on from a two-week soft launch, they officially opened on Valentine’s Day. Wise move, seeing as for most of us, pizza is our true bae.
Where? For their third site they’ve chosen their most central location, New Cavendish Street: Santa Maria, 160 New Cavendish Street, Fitzrovia, W1W 6YR www.santamariapizzeria.com
The Look: Taking its inspiration from the Italian coffee bars found in central London during the 1960s, the space is simple, a grey base dashed with pinks, greens, yellows and blues. The signature, bold mural of Saint Mary stands at the front of the restaurant, depicting Mary pulling back her clothes to show a dagger through her heart…edgy. With space for 40, they don’t take bookings, when we arrived at 3pm it was empty, but by 3:30pm it was almost full. Who knew it was such a prime time to eat pizza on a Saturday afternoon?
On the Menu: You might think that being a pizza place, that they just have pizzas, but you’d be wrong. They have a substantial menu of sides and starts including particularly good meatballs with San Marzano tomato sauce DOP and parmesan; aubergines parmigiana and vegan caponata. Talking of vegan dishes, to reflect the current rise in veganism, they’ve introduced four new vegan pizzas, such as the Santa Daniela, topped with cream of walnut and soy milk, rocket, cherry tomatoes, grilled marinated aubergines and walnuts.
What We Ate: To start, we went for the bocconcini alla pizzaiola, or better known as plump smoked buffalo mozzarella balls which sat in a bath of rich, tomato sauce. It gave that satisfying cheese pull as we scooped it up onto warm bread, which we ordered more of to mop up every last drop of the sauce.
For the pizzas, my friend, chose the Santa Caterina, topped with tomato sauce (the only use San Marzano tomato sauce DOP) smoked mozzarella, strips of spicy salame Napoli, fresh chilli and plenty of parmesan. The base was excellent, thin, crisp and just enough chew on the crust.
If like me you aren’t a fan of the tomato base, then there are four pizzas without tomato, including the San Giuseppe. The base is topped with smoked mozzarella, crumbled rare breed Yorkshire sausage, parmesan and friarielli (wild broccoli). It was good, it really was, but and I don’t know why, the pizzas got cold quite quickly- and I’m not one to eat slowly. The result was that the mozzarella became very heavy and stodgy. Add to this that the friarielli was so soggy that green water ran off my pizza as I picked it up and I was left with a pizza that started off with a lot of promise but didn’t deliver. I’m going to put it down to an off day as having had pizza from Santa Maria before I’ve never come across this.
What We Drank: Having had a virtuous morning spent wandering through Highgate Cemetery (I highly recommend it as day date option, seriously it was couplesville when we visited) we went for Aranciata San Pellegrino, which is essentially an Italian take on Fanta. Sometimes, you can’t beat a sparkling orange.
Go With: A pizza fan, naturally. You want someone who is happy to stuff themselves with pizza and knock back a shot of Limoncello after.
Final Word: This time I was torn with Santa Maria. On the one hand you’ve got excellent sides and great pizza toppings; on the other hand, you’ve got the fact that the pizzas were very wet and seemed to get cold unusually fast. Type in www.londonsbestpizza.com and you’ll get Santa Maria’s website, but this time I don’t think it was, a contender, but not the best.
Santa Maria: 160 New Cavendish Street, Fitzrovia, W1W 6YR