Pizza has gone through numerous transformations since the popular fast food staple began life as a basic flatbread in the 10th Century (the first recording found in a Latin manuscript from Lazio, Italy). Since its inception, the well-loved dish has produced a number of varieties from across the globe; Neapolitan pizza – so thin that it’s typically eaten with cutlery; Chicago Town pizza, originating in the Windy City, and also known as deep-dish – similar to a pie, with a thick crust that has raised edges and ingredients in reverse (cheese on the bottom, molten tomato sauce on the top) – while New York pizza is particularly large with thick and crisp crusts, and a soft centre. There are, many other varieties, but we don’t have the word count to mention.
Pizza always prevails in the comfort food stakes, and London has come on leaps and bounds from chain pizzerias, with the likes of Pizza Express and Zizzi playing second fiddle to young guns such as Homeslice, Pizza Pilgrims and Yard Sale Pizza. The latter started life as a small outfit –kneading dough in a back garden in Clapton before setting up a brick and mortar site in the same area. Spreading across London like some kind of well-proved rash, the Yard Sale Pizza team have gone on to successfully open a number of other pizzerias in Finsbury Park, Walthamstow, Leytonstone, and most recently, Hackney Road.
The E2 outfit is their largest site to date. Spread across two floors the pizzeria has ample seating downstairs, complete with yellow banquet seating flanking the walls and pizza inspired neon signage festooning the place, while on street level diners can grab a barstool or drop in for takeaway orders. There are many reasons why Yard Sale Pizza stands head and shoulders above other fast-casual pizza restaurants in London, and one factor is their dough. Made on-site, hand-stretched and baked in a custom-built domed oven, all pizzas boast springy, blistered crusts that are tear-able and utterly delightful. Pizzas are served in two sizes: 12 inches and 18 inches. Depending on party size, agreement on toppings (½ and ½ is available) and if you’re willing to share, the 18 inch is somewhat of a much-needed pilgrimage for Yard Sale first-timers.
On a recent visit, we opted for two pizzas – the popular and menu mainstay Holy Pepperoni with Cobble Lane pepperoni, regular pepperoni and spicy Nduja sausage, and The Aubergine with garlic roasted aubergine, parmesan crumb, and fresh basil. Both received big thumbs up from the table; the Holy Pepperoni, a jazzed-up version with three types of meat scattered across slow-cooked tomato sauce and Fior di Latte mozzarella hit all the right notes – meaty, spicy, and chewy. And as for the aubergine, its simplicity allowed the fresh ingredients to shine. The pizza is floppy enough to be folded in half to eat, but structurally sound to withstand the melange of toppings. No knives and forks required.
Elsewhere, the Marmite, cheese and garlic bread is non-negotiable. A rich tapestry of nostalgic flavours, this tear and share number was the dish we didn’t know we needed. Dips are also in abundance and a lovely addition for the spongy crusts. Garlic and herb is a failsafe and the Ribman Holy F**k hot sauce had just the right amount of spicy kick without it being overpowering.
There are no bad choices on the menu here, with veggie and vegan diners well catered for (the dough is vegan, and plant-powered cheese is available). Salads also feature on the line-up – if you’re somewhat inclined to greens with your pizza – however, we overlooked our five-a-day in favour of dessert. The Yard Sale team has partnered with Happy Endings, a dessert company that create out-of-this-world ice cream sandwiches. The Malty One – malted milk chocolate in a Hob Nob-style oat biscuit half dipped in dark milk chocolate – delicately walked the tightrope of sweet and savoury.
Only the best pizzas rise to the top, and there’s no doubt Yard Sale Pizza create some of the finest in the capital.
Yard Sale Pizza Hackney Road can be found at 184 Hackney Road, London, E2 7QL.