Like many international cuisines, pizza first showed its face on the brightly lit streets of London before gaining nationwide popularity.
Decades before chains like Domino’s arrived and bastardised the art of pizza making, the first expressions of true Italian pizzas were showing up in the capital in a bid to quench an increasing appetite for international food.
But the origin of pizza in the UK is actually a fairly recent phenomenon.
History of pizza in the UK
The first pizzerias in Britain began to emerge in the 1960s and 1970s, coinciding with an increase in international travel and cultural exchange. Italian immigrants played a significant role in introducing and popularizing pizza in the UK. These immigrants brought their culinary traditions with them, including the art of pizza-making.
One of the early pioneers of pizza in Britain was Peter Boizot, who opened the first PizzaExpress restaurant in London’s Soho in 1965. Boizot had fallen in love with pizza during his travels in Italy and sought to recreate its authentic flavors in the UK. PizzaExpress grew rapidly and became a beloved establishment known for its thin-crust pizzas and innovative toppings.
In the 1980s, the pizza landscape in Britain began to evolve with the rise of delivery chains. Domino’s Pizza, originally an American company, established a presence in the UK in 1985 and quickly gained popularity. Their delivery model, offering convenience and a wide variety of toppings, appealed to British consumers, leading to the rapid expansion of pizza delivery services across the country.
During the 1990s and early 2000s, the pizza market in Britain continued to flourish with the introduction of more diverse and specialized pizzerias. Independent restaurants and small chains began offering Neapolitan-style pizzas, wood-fired options, and artisanal toppings, catering to a growing demand for high-quality and authentic pizza experiences.
A 21st century surge
The 21st century witnessed a further surge in the popularity of pizza in Britain, fueled by the emergence of gourmet and “build-your-own” pizza concepts. Pizzerias started experimenting with unique flavor combinations, introducing ingredients beyond the traditional offerings. This evolution in pizza culture reflected the changing tastes and culinary preferences of the British population.
Today, pizza has firmly established itself as a beloved dish in Britain, with a wide range of options available to suit all preferences. From traditional Italian-style pizzerias to fast-food delivery chains and trendy gourmet establishments, the British pizza scene offers something for everyone.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you on a mouthwatering journey through the top pizza places in London, where you can savour the perfect balance of crispy crust, gooey cheese, and tantalizing toppings.
Sacro Cuore is a hidden gem nestled in Kensal Rise, serving up traditional, wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas with a focus on quality ingredients. Their pizzas feature a thin, soft, and chewy crust with a delightful charred finish. The Diavola, with spicy salami and mozzarella, and the Fiorentina, topped with spinach, egg, and Parmesan, are just a couple of the crowd-pleasing options on their menu.
Made of Dough
Made of Dough is known for its heavenly sourdough pizzas that have garnered a loyal following. With their light and airy crusts, each bite is a delightful blend of textures and flavors. From the classic Margherita to the indulgent Funghi Truffle, Made of Dough delivers a memorable pizza experience.
Homeslice has gained a cult following for its oversized, thin-crust pizzas that are perfect for sharing. Their creative toppings range from traditional options like Salami, Rocket, and Parmesan to more adventurous choices like Kimchi, Pork Belly, and Sriracha. With a laid-back atmosphere and innovative flavor combinations, Homeslice is a must-visit for pizza lovers.
Yard Sale Pizza
Yard Sale Pizza is a favorite among locals for its New York-inspired slices and generous toppings. Their inventive menu features pizzas like the Holy Pepperoni, loaded with pepperoni, and the fiery ‘Nduja, topped with spicy sausage and chili flakes. Their commitment to quality ingredients and perfectly executed crusts make Yard Sale Pizza a top contender.
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele
Originally hailing from Naples, L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele brings traditional Neapolitan pizza to London. Their menu is simple, focusing on classics like the Margherita and the Marinara. The secret lies in the dough, which is fermented for 24 to 48 hours, resulting in a soft, airy crust that complements the fresh toppings perfectly.
Pizza Pilgrims started as a street food venture and has since grown into a beloved pizzeria. Their dedication to quality ingredients is evident in their mouthwatering creations. The Nduja and Burrata pizza, with spicy sausage and creamy burrata cheese, is a standout. Don’t forget to try their famous Nutella pizza ring for a sweet ending to your meal.
Santa Maria Pizzeria
Santa Maria Pizzeria brings the flavors of Naples to London with their traditional wood-fired pizzas. The focus here is on simplicity and quality, using imported Italian ingredients to create authentic flavors. The Santa Bufalina, topped with buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and fresh basil, is a must-try for a true taste of Naples.
Located in the trendy neighborhood of Shoreditch, Pizza East offers rustic and delectable pizzas in a stylish setting. With a diverse menu that includes options like the Spicy Nduja and the Truffle Salami, their pizzas are bursting with flavor. Pair your pizza with one of their craft beers for the ultimate dining experience.
50 Kalò is another authentic Neapolitan pizzeria that has made a mark in London. Their pizzas are made with ingredients sourced directly from Naples, ensuring an authentic taste.
An award-winning Neapolitan pizza restaurant boasting traffic light bases and leopard crusts with a selection of mouthwatering dips to dunk them in. Go for the pizza, stay for the garlic bread!