Portobello Pizza East

photo 5Last weekend, in search of the perfect birthday present for a dear friend, I headed to my new favorite neighborhood, Goldborne Road, just over the canal from our flat.  Unlike the my previous visit, there was a bitter wind and the sky hung very near my head and snow flurries swirled around the market stalls.  But, I was bundled up and ready to make another round of the vintage shops and market.  Then I got a whiff of some fish being grilled by the Moroccan guy who sets up shop here every week (and gets a superb Yelp rating, by the way) and a little further down a window full of pastries beckoned and there was only one thing to do. Eat!

photo 1While I really wanted to give the Moroccan fish man my business, the idea of sitting on his stools on the sidewalk was just a bridge too far on this brisk afternoon.  Blood sugar plummeting dramatically, I soldiered on and decided to try Pizza East at the end of the road and I am so glad I did.  It's a two storey affair and was packed to the limit.  A variety of communal tables, bar seats and small tables were filled with an eclectic mix of old school Notting Hillers and families, hipsters and more than a few ladies who had broken out their vintage furs for this cold snap.  I was ushered to the upstairs room and a seat at the bar, where the bartender immediately offered me a bloody mary.  "Make it virgin and you have a deal," I replied.  He was attentive and knowledgable and super friendly - as was most of the staff I interacted with.photo 1As I walked through the room, my mouth watered at the sight of all the crispy, wood-fired pizzas that filled the tables.  Downstairs there is a large pizza oven especially for this purpose and stations where salads and salumi and cheeses are each prepared.  It's like an Italian marketplace!  I could have ordered the entire menu but managed to contain myself.  An endive, fennel, radish and pistachio salad dressed in a lemony, dill dressing was bitter and spicy and crunchy and delicious.  It was the perfect foil to the guanciale, stracchino, leek and rosemary pizza I ordered.  Guanciale is like the best bacon you'll ever have, unsmoked and made of pork cheeks.  It's incredibly rich.  I also got a taste of the San Daniele, buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and chilli pizza.  It was like a summer salad served up on top of a perfect pizza base - and the hint of chilli was lovely. photo 2Now I was really tempted to indulge in the salted chocolate caramel tart for dessert, but had to draw the line somewhere (and I am supposed to be eating more healthfully and I don't think that any of the above really qualified).  Plus we had a big birthday dinner to attend that evening and I wanted to have a little bit of room left inside.  However, next time, I'll head to Pizza East with a group of friends and order a selection of the antipasti: the speck, asiago croquettes, the clams, fennel sausage, verdicchio, the bone marrow bruschetta.  Um, yum!!  As it was, this was the perfect quick Saturday afternoon lunch and I will be making plenty of visits while I scour the shops of Goldborne Road for new treasures.

photo 3310 Portobello RoadLondonW10 5TA+44 (0)20 8969 4500