Searching London for authentic pizza
ICCO, Goodge Street
This is more like it. Sitting outside on a summer’s evening watching the Goodge Street traffic go past. It was warm, I didn’t have to wear a jumper. It was like being in Italy.Sadly Icco has not got wine on its menu. Although that is an authentic twist, I have been to pizzerias in Naples that don’t sell wine. It’s all about the pizza. As we are searching London for the most authentic pizza maybe it was a good sign. There is not a huge choice of toppings, which is another good sign. The pizzas are available in one size, 11″ and are thin-based as Italian pizzas should be. Each pizza weighs in around the £6 mark and the nearest tube is Goodge Street. Italians were eating here and if they have given their approval then it must be worth a try.
Icco is a big, brash restaurant that also does take aways. Balls of dough sit ready to be flattened into pizza just as though you were in Napoli. But Icco has a special way of working. Even if you are eating in, you order at the long counter, behind which you can see the chefs twirling dough. When your order has been taken you are handed a flat LED light, about ten centimetres square. When your pizza is ready it starts flashing. Italy has a tradition of serving good food in harshly lit environments. It’s almost a requirement. When in Italy don’t be afraid of the surroundings. All they care about is the food.
We ordered a Margherita and a Fiorentina. The Margherita is of course the classic which all pizzerias should offer. This was visually a little disappointing – Margheritas should reflect the green, white and red of the Italian flag. Authentic Naples Margheritas usually have a base layer of tomato, circles of white mozzarella, basil leaves and lashings of olive oil. This had a much more even spread of cheese, which wasn’t stringy. It did however have a crunchy crust and a relatively flexible base – for real authenticity the pizza should be entirely flexible. You should be able to fold it over to eat. There were no basil leaves!
The crust of the Fiorentina had a nice light blackening – that may sound odd, but an authentic pizza will have some burning around the edges. There was a good amount of topping and the egg was, as always, visually unexpected.
Icco’s pizza bases are close, but the Margherita topping was not authentic enough.
We’re looking for the most authentic pizza in London. Know a pizzeria we should visit? Tell us on Twitter.