This blog was originally written on 01/08/2016
I feel fat. Full and fat.
Last week I ate a pizza a day before going vegan. From frozen pizza to wood oven calzones, I ate myself pizza silly so that I’d be sick of the damn things.
Only problem, it didn’t work.
After one of the best calzones in my life, the lowest point of the experiment was eating at the recently opened Ciao Bella pizzeria on the famous Surrey Street in Croydon.
It’s a laidback cafe/takeaway with a very different vibe to the gimmicky rustic ambience of most London pizzerias. You don’t drink from a mason jar, cutlery isn’t kept in old mustard tins and there are no condescending 20-year-olds with thick-rimmed glasses. Christ, it even had fairy lights on the wall. I instantly fell for the ‘we don’t give a fuck enough to be cool’ vibe.
Prisma also came out for Android, so you know…
But how was the pizza? Disappointing. Mozzarella and caramelised onion is a dream combination in my eyes, but the base was tasteless and the cheese had an offensive pungency. It just tasted like something I could’ve made, which defeats the point of eating out.
So on the following day, the downright dirty Bear joined me for a few days of pizza nomming. I took him to Pellone (again). This time, I gave their margarita a shot. It was never going to top the calzone but held its own as a damn fine pizza and the Bear seemed suitably impressed by his Diavolo, despite me insisting it was a glorified pepperoni pizza, which is undoubtedly the least exciting pizza after a Hawaiian.
After that, we ate at the Camden Eye, which is a right good boozer for hipsters on the mash that also does wood-fired pizza. This was an exciting one. 10″ pizza for 10 quid is a bit expensive when compared to Pellone and some other pizzerias, but the pizza was pretty good and the menu was actually a little adventurous. I had the ‘How to Impress Angelina Jolie’. I had many Angelina Jolie posters on my wall when I was a nipper, and thought the pizza to be aptly named indeed. It consisted of mozzarella, goat’s cheese, tomato, black olives and walnuts. Bear went for a glorified pepperoni pizza, again.
Thrown in the mix somewhere I had a Nutella and mascarpone calzone. I took it home with me and, to be honest, by the second half I grew so sick of it that I started playing Overwatch to distract me. Thinking about it makes me feel a little confused. Disappointing, as I always thought this was a grand idea.
It crossed my mind that, perhaps, I was getting sick of pizza. The Bear had already ditched me for a burger that he didn’t even finish, and there I was bloated and full of greasy chocolate cheese.
Had I successfully rid myself of my love for pizza?
Nope. The following morning, the Bear and I were sat in Brixton’s Franco Manca five minutes before opening time, ready to binge one last time. I ate what is possibly my favourite pizza, the number 4 (Gloucester old spot ham, Mozzarella, buffalo ricotta, wild mushrooms), swapping its ham for caramelised onions and adding Colston Bassett Stilton. Its nickname is ‘orgasm on sourdough’.
My favourite pizzerias in the UK are Republic Bier Halle in Glasgow and Franco Manca, and the number 4 at the latter just edges in front to win the accolade of ‘all-time favourite pizza’. I’ve eaten it enough times to know it’s reliably delicious, and I always turn up to the place saying I’ll try something different but never do. It’s that toothsome. I ordered something different there once and then had to get drunk at The Craft Beer Co to wash away the sins.
The following day I turned 26 and had only two days left of vegetarianism to my name. As it was my birthday, it was my choice for dinner and we visited the recently opened and controversial La Piccola Italia in the good old manky Aberdare – the greatest shithole there ever was.
I had decided that I would avoid the pizza and try one of their delicious sounding risottos. I had had my final cheese pizza at Franco Manca. The pizza I most love to possibly bid adieu all the cheesy pizzas of my past and the future ones that’ll get away. This was the final hurrah.
So what did I have at La Piccola? Pizza of course.