But, no, it is all Pizza Express and Domino's and Pizza Hut and I'd rather have no pizza than bad pizza. I am a pizza snob and I can own that. I've been lucky enough to spend an extended period time in Italy over the years and I know that I am due more than hot dog stuffed crust *shudder*. I want a base that is both crisp and chewy, I want to be able to actually see and taste a naturally sweet tomato sauce, I want puddles of stretchy, creamy mozzarella and, yes, I want olive oil and some basil. That is not too much to ask. I have eaten perfect margaritas in Italian city, towns and hill top villages. They are not an impossible dream. Once I was presented with a heart shaped pizza and it was pretty much the highlight of my life. Carb-based seduction is the ultimate seduction.
So for the last two and a half years, between sporadic trips to Italy, I have been surviving on Franco Manca. They're very Italian (service is negligent at best), the pizza is excellently priced and they have an interesting topping selection (not relevant to me but apparently important when dining with non-margarita purists) with great ethics. The pizzas are mostly excellent but for a long time they only had very non-central locations. Brixton was my Franco Manca of choice and I have never lived or worked anywhere that it wasn't a trek from. I have eaten a lot of FM pizza but the locational inconvenience did put a dent in my desired level of pizza eating. You just don't always want to haul arse down to Brixton (or Chiswick!).
Finally there is a viable alternative though! Pizza Pilgrims have opened a bricks and mortar pizzeria in Soho with extensive seating and it is getting an official thumbs up from me. In truth, I was wary of it because I had eaten their pizza back when they were just a wee pizza van (appropriately an apé) and I was not impressed. A mobile pizza oven is just not a smart idea to me - it is too difficult to generate the requisite heat. Pizzas are not demanding food but they need a bit of preparation space and a hot hot oven, 500oC hot with space for the air to circulate, and an apé, as much as I love them, was never going to fit the bill. I remember finding the van pizza decidedly lacking and shedding a solitary tear as I crossed off another potential pizza dream... However, those problems have been remedied by a real cooking set up and the PP pizzas are solid. They seem less prone to slightly under-cooking their pizzas than FM. Both use a sourdough base which is yum but does need a proper cook to prevent it from being gummy around the crusts. I've had gummy crusts (nice) at both PP and FM but it has happened more at FM where the atmosphere is always rushed.
Overall, PP might be the best pizza I've eaten outside of Italy? (Big claim. Would need to revisit that excellent Berlin pizzeria and, sadly, I haven't had an extended opportunity to check out the New York offering which, presumably, aside from the abominable deep pans, are strong. Maybe I should make a pizza pilgrimage to Wales and Glasgow? Strong Italian communities. Any tips?) I've eaten at PP probably five or six times in the last two or three months and it gets my vote. Good pizza, easy access - if you can get there before 7 you don't even have to queue. Plus, it's three minutes walk from Gelupo, my favourite place in the world. N.B. PP do serve Gelupo but it is worth the brief walk for the full range of flavours - the Rhubarb Crumble they've been serving for the last few weeks is top notch.
If you have a London pizza favourite pleeeeeease let me know. I am not a one pizza girl. My fondness for PP doesn't mean I'm going to stop eating FM. Ideally I want to be able to find a great pizzeria within ten minutes walk at all times. The more good pizza the better.