Housed in an old tea warehouse, formerly owned by the Lipton family, a stone’s throw from the hip and happening bars of Shoreditch, Pizza East simply oozes cool. It therefore seemed a prime candidate for a restaurant review. The décor is a sort of post-industrial minimalism, which nevertheless doesn’t compromise on comfort and the service is efficient but friendly – all of the staff we encountered seemed to really relish working there, and this contributed to a lively atmosphere, even at a mid-week lunch.
The menu offers a tantalising selection of Italian dishes, and its focus on authentic ingredients (many of which are available to purchase from the on-site deli) is particularly impressive. Rather than have starters, my dining partner and I chose to share a side salad of beetroot, pecorino and parsley with our mains. The flavours were wonderfully delicate – the beetroot was cooked but not pickled, which gave it a soft, smooth character that contrasted brilliantly with the salty bite of the pecorino and the slight bitterness of the parsley.
For my main dish, I chose a pizza topped with tomato, San Daniele parma ham, pesto, ricotta, and lamb’s leaf lettuce. The combination was delightful, the salty parma ham tempered by the smooth ricotta and the generous mound of lamb’s leaf brought to life by the tangy freshness of the tomato sauce and intensity of the pesto. The pizza base was fantastic too, stretched thin in traditional Italian style, with a exquisitely light, crisp and airy crust. My dining partner’s main dish of beef lasagne was deliciously meaty – a truly warming, hearty meal.
After such satisfying main dishes, we only had room to share dessert, but we were extremely glad we did, as the hot cinnamon sugar doughnuts with Amedei chocolate for dipping were simply divine. The donuts were incredibly light, the cinnamon sugar the perfect level of sweetness, and the dipping chocolate ever so slightly bitter. The flavours combined beautifully, making this dish a luxurious treat that nevertheless was light enough to avoid feeling too naughty.
As we were there for a mid-week lunch, my dining partner and I chose soft drinks rather than wine, but the list is a good one, including a wide selection of reasonably priced Italian reds and whites by the glass or the carafe, and an even more expansive choice of reds, whites and rose (both Italian and new world) by the bottle. Unfortunately, at £2.50 for a small glass of soda-stream diet coke, the soft drinks didn’t feel quite such good value. Coming in at around £25 per head, Pizza East isn’t bad value overall, and is definitely worthy of a good four Forks-Up.Pizza East
56 Shoreditch High Street London E1 6JJ
020 7729 1888