Showing: 6 RESULTS

Pizza Pilgrims

There are plenty of places to get a brilliant pizza in London now, and constant debate around which is the best. Is it Homeslice with their gigantic pies to share? Or Naples’ very own export, L’Antica Pizzeria de Michele? I haven’t tried all of these rivals yet, but I can put in a well researched and firm vote for Pizza Pilgrims certainly being up there among the best.

One of London’s original street food vans to bricks and mortar success stories, there are now half a dozen Pizza Pilgrims restaurants over the city – a chain has formed. We’re seeing this happen a lot with our favourite street food places now, and the worry is whether the food we’ve grown to love, served out of a van in a car park, will stay the same. Switching from a small operation to building up an array of restaurants runs a risk of losing both the personality and quality of the business. Being a returning customer over the years, I’m impressed with the consistency of both of these factors: Pizza Pilgrims have succeeded.

Pizzas are of the Neapolitan style and made with as many ingredients local to Italy as can be. Flour is shipped from Naples istelf; the two different types of mozzarella are shipped from Caserta twice a week; their nduja arrives weekly from Calabria. Even the source of their basil has a kind of romance to it – it’s from down the road at Berwick Street market, the location of Pizza Pilgrims’ first foray into the food world. Quality ingredients are paramount, particularly in Italian cooking, and it is clear the level of care that continues to go into this side of the business, nearly six years on from them serving their first pizza. The result is the perfect pizza – better than some I’ve had in Italy, even. Puffed up crusts surrounding a sweet tomato base, oozing with mozzarella. It smells incredible.

There are a few changes to the menu between locations: their fantastic arancini wasn’t on the Dean Street menu last week, for which I wept, but in a genius move they’ve added crust dippers. If you can’t choose between pesto aioli, gorgonzola and garlic or smoked chilli jam mascarpone, they’re only two quid each so cut your decision making anxiety in half and get more than one. I’ll help you out further – whichever pizza you opt for (though I always seem to go for the salami with added nduja – highly recommend), add on buffalo mozzarella for an extra £2.75. It makes for a messier pizza but it’s totally worth it, and all the best food is messy anyway. Wine comes by the carafe (even the prosecco) and sides and desserts are kept simple – the main event here is the pizza and Pilgrims are devoted to delivering their specialty well and without distractions.

The story behind Pizza Pilgrims is a great one, and as you read about the brothers’ pint fueled agreement to give the street food scene a go, through to their six week pilgrimage around Italy in the name of research, you can’t help but cheer them on. Good job we can continue to do so, because Pizza Pilgrims are still serving up banging pizza to punters queuing out the door, no matter how much they’ve grown.

Multiple locations in London

Liked this post? Subscribe here so you never miss an update!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Bologna Europe Food From Travels Italy

Osteria dell’Orsa

When you’re off to a known foodie destination and your research throws the names of certain restaurants into the mix several times, you know you’re onto a winner. Even better when these places are noted for not breaking the bank and for being favoured by locals. Osteria dell’Orsa in Bologna is one of these places.

Clearly the word of Osteria dell’Orsa’s reliable excellence has spread, as tourists from all over were waiting patiently for a spot to eat during my visit, but this hasn’t put off the locals, who still flock to the restaurant in hordes. Despite the Osteria’s popularity with tourists, it remains authentic with a menu fully in Italian, leaving me to use a translation app with only moderate success and a renewed resolve to learn the language with the help of Duolingo (and I bet you can guess how well that is going). The staff are extremely busy and this is a casual, local place, so don’t expect a great deal of patience with explaining each dish on the menu – ask about each section and expect a rushed reply, but it’s not too hard to muddle your way through, and they will advise if you’ve ordered too much.

And at these prices it really is hard not to over order; there’s a €6 dish of the day, their famous tagliatelle al ragu Bolognese, along with a €8 dish of ravioli and the traditional Bolognese dish Totellini in brodo (broth) for €10. Desserts are €4 and the drinks are just as holiday fund friendly, with aperitifs putting you out of pocket a mere €3 and excellent local wine comes in at just €7 for a litre. The prices alone are enough to appeal to anyone, and though you may be fooled into thinking that the prices are representative of the quality of the food, you’d be wrong. Very wrong.

Despite my strong affinity toward tagliatelle al ragu Bolognese, I’d had a perfect dish of it for lunch earlier that day, and in interest of sampling as much of a variety as I could fit in during my time in Bologna, I landed on the ravioli con pesto genovese. The break between pouring over the menu and eating provided the perfect time to people watch: everyone animatedly enjoying their food and chatting away in different languages. After a short wait a generous portion of yellow pasta arrived in front of me, smothered in plenty of fresh homemade pesto and stuffed with creamy ricotta. Washed down with a cold Aperol spritz (€3), I eyed up my neighbour’s platter of meat and cheese whilst I ate, already planning my next course.

Determined to try more food, I ordered a selection of cheeses with walnuts and honey to round the meal off, along with an excellent glass of red wine for two euros. Two euros! The atmosphere and communal tables make Osteria dell’Orsa a great place to eat solo, but with those portion sizes and the sheer desperation to try everything you see everyone else eating around you, going in a group would be handy so you can share a few things. Either way, make sure you track down Osteria dell’Orsa whilst in Bologna – it’s a true gem.


Via Mentana, 1, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy

Liked this post? Subscribe here so you never miss an update!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.



Pasta. The freshest of pasta made in house every day with homemade sauces and the very best of simple ingredients. That’s all you need to know, really. I’d heard about Padella via Sabrina Ghayour’s Instagram, and figured if Sabrina was a regular who raved about it, it was certainly worth trying. I trust Sabrina. Then one of my colleagues pounced on me one morning and went on and on and on about how it’s the best pasta he’s had in London, and he continued to hound me until I went. They were both right – this is without question some of the best Italian food I’ve had in the city.

I am a long time fan of a ‘small plates’ menu, mainly because I want to try everything in any given restaurant, which I think is totally acceptable. I don’t want to be tied down to one choice, suffering from food envy should my companion have chosen wiser than me. Luckily for me, restaurants going down the small plates route are hugely popular and opening at a rapid rate in London, and Padella is one of them, taking inspiration from traditional Italian small plates. Coming from the team behind Trullo (er hello, one look at that sample menu and I’m now desperate to visit), Padella is based on years of travelling through Italy making and eating a shit tonne of pappardelle. Sounds like the perfect excuse to open a pasta bar if you ask me.

After a 30 minute wait in line for a table (for Padella is one of those no reservations places we don’t mind so much in the summer months but cry about in the winter), we were fortunate to get a table outside on one of the last warm, sunny evenings in September. Vowing to eat as much as we could, we went in hard with an order of four dishes to share as a start to our meal. We went classic with cold meat and cheese with bread and salad – the simplest of European combinations that is always some kind of perfect. The salami was excellent and the burrata spot on (£5), but when is burrata not spot on? Next time I would opt for the spinach with chilli, garlic and anchovy (£5.50) over the radicchio, watercress and rocket salad (£5.50), though it’s not like we didn’t polish it off – the spinach just sounds more interesting. I have apparently memorised the beauty of Padella’s sourdough (£2), crunchy on the crust but so soft and warm on the inside, the perfect accompaniment to soaking up the Puglian olive oil it’s served with. A very solid start.

Despite a great start to our meal, the mains really did steal the show. The ricotta ravioli in sage butter (£7) came out on top, helped by the fact it’s one of my favourite dishes of all time, but therefore at high risk of being judged too harshly. It was second only to some ravioli I’ve had at a wedding in Tuscany, which I swear to God I can still taste if I close my eyes. The ravioli is a must order, as is the pappardelle with 8 hour Dexter beef shin ragu (£8.50), on par with that I’ve eaten in a Florentine trattoria. Tagliatelle with nduja, mascarpone and parsley (£5.50) was creamy but much spicier than expected – not necessarily a bad thing, and I am certainly one for spice, though I may substitute for fettuccine carbonara next time (£7.50). Or maybe just go with more people and get both? That’s probably a better idea. Also worth a mention – aforementioned colleague of mine still talks about their Taglierini with Dorset crab, chilli and lemon on a weekly basis, so there are two things we can take away from this: a) you cannot go far wrong choosing between any of the eight mains Padella offer, and b) we thank the pasta Gods once more that Padella is somewhere you are actively encouraged to order multiple dishes to share (around three or four dishes between two).

Desserts came in the form of a chocolate tart, an almond and blueberry tart or salted caramel ice cream. We tried the chocolate and ice cream, and whilst both were pleasant they did pale next to the high standard of the starters and mains, which is perhaps to be expected when the pasta is known to be the star of the show. And for all of this, wager how much the bill came to? Four dishes to start, three pastas, two desserts, and a very decent amount of wine, prosecco and Aperol came to £45pp including service. For this amount of food, I consider this a great deal in a city such as London, and for food of this quality, it’s heaven.

Despite being advised that the tables had a turn around of 1.5 hours per sitting, we didn’t feel rushed whilst we had our meal which is absolutely key. Service was friendly and accommodating, offering drinks to those waiting in the near constant queue that didn’t die down until gone 9pm. Sure, a queue can be off putting and I for one have little patience to wait outside in the cold, but the reward is a great one: a warm, friendly atmosphere with good wine and what surely must be some of London’s best pasta.

6 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1TQ
Mon – Sat: 12-4pm; 5-10pm; Sun: 12-5pm

Liked this post? Subscribe here so you never miss an update!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

California Food From Travels Los Angeles

Scopa Italian Roots

This spring, after a twelve hour flight drinking a fair amount of British Airways issued cava and a complete shift in time difference, I arrive in Los Angeles, home of the rich and famous. Los Angeles, the land of the beautiful and slender. Do they even eat here?

I arrive at my friend’s place overlooking Venice Beach, watch the sunset with some champagne to toast my arrival, and she suggests a plethora of options as to where to grab some dinner that evening. Apparently at least some of them do.

“Ooh actually we could go to Scopa, it’s just around…”
“SCOPA! I’ve heard about that place! Yes yes let’s go there!”

You may not be surprised to find out that whenever I head somewhere new, I arrive with a bunch of notes about where to eat in whatever new city or land I may be in. In fact I had actually printed off the entire menu for Scopa and it lived in my LA specific food folder in my carry on – no, really. And whilst you can do all the research you like, recommendations from locals are always the best, so after my friend suggested the place herself I was expecting a great deal from Scopa Italian Roots in Venice.

We arrived around 8pm on a Friday night and as was to be expected, the place was buzzing. Exposed brick, dark wood and huge mirrors with an industrial twist, Scopa instantly feels cool. Very L.A. We put our names on the list (which feels somewhat more glamorous when in the U.S. opposed to down the local Nando’s for a quick pre-cinema Peri Peri) and headed to the beautiful bar, all backlit and showing off rows and rows of premium spirits in all their glory. Fittingly, their drinks menu has the byline ‘the field guide to navigating the giant wall of booze’.

After a well crafted cocktail each (at $20 a pop, mind – Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore) and a short wait we were seated at the bar and finally got our hands on a copy of the menu that sat in my suitcase back in the apartment. Naturally we started with antipasti, the ricotta crostini ($13) arriving first and oh my GOD. I thought it would be good, but the creaminess of the ricotta with delicate mix of herbs, the olive oil pooled on top teamed with the crunchiness of the lightly garlicky crostini was far, far better than I imagined it could be. This is the beauty of Italian food: it’s not complicated, it shouldn’t be. It doesn’t need to be. In fact if it is, you’re probably doing it wrong. The simplicity of high quality ingredients complimenting each other in a fine balance is what makes Italian food so good, and so loved, and already with this first dish I knew Scopa had nailed it.

Next up was the prosciutto burrata ($17) served with sesame seeded bread that added a fantastic earthiness to the soft melting cheese. Onto the hot antipasti and we were served a giant arancini ball ($17) filled with meat sauce, peas, ricotta (oh, always more ricotta) and mozzarella in a tomato sauce. Without question enough to share between two, if not three – this is the sort of place you want to take at least three other people so you can order more and try a bit of everything. There was so much on the antipasti menu I would have ordered: crispy squash blossoms with mozzarella, tomato, chilli and – you guessed it – ricotta ($14); crispy cod with potato, chives, olive oil and lemon ($10); scallops with oregano, brown butter and lemon ($19), and that’s all before you get to the cold cuts with cheese ($18-32).

Mains we went solo, my friend choosing the creste rigate pasta with mushrooms and asparagus ($19), whilst I went classic with the richest lasagne ($18) that tasted just as good cold the next day (I ate a lot on the plane). Wine was a beautiful red at $44 a bottle, though this is somewhere you could splash out a lot more should you want to – they have a fine wine section that heads well into the hundreds. I’m disappointed we didn’t have room, or moreover the energy for dessert, as by 9.20pm I was falling asleep at the bar, the rich Italian food aiding my shift in time zone heavily, though for the equivalent of 4.20am my time, I think I did pretty well.

There are so many incredible restaurants in this vast city, but I wouldn’t be able to pass up experiencing this place again – although without jet lag next time so I can launch myself in fully. So without question Scopa Italian Roots would be on my hitlist whenever I return to LA. Do they even eat here? Whoever does eat here, eats God damn well.

2905 W Washington Blvd, Venice, CA 90292
+1 310-821-1100

Liked this post? Subscribe here so you never miss an update!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


Forza Win

A well executed, comforting, flavoursome meal with a glass of wine or beer in London for a tenner? Stop it. Named Awesome Sauce, that’s exactly what you get at Forza Win. Wednesdays are crowded in this converted cash and carry space in a car park in Peckham, and understandably. The menu is simple: a different pasta dish every week, vegetarian or meat, with a glass of wine or a cold Birra Moretti. If you feel like you want to throw some extra pounds at your evening, there’s always a side on offer and the non negotiable addition of truly excellent garlic sourdough bread – the kind where you’re wiping butter dribbling from your lips with every bite.

For such a bargain, the quality is high, but then that comes when you concentrate on a couple of dishes – you can do them well. I’ve been twice now, inevitably starting out the evening at one of my favourite bars in London, Bar Story, for their excellent happy hour. The cocktails at Bar Story are VERY good, and with a 2 for 1 happy hour every day between 6 and 7pm, a dangerous start to any evening. Good job Forza Win is a 5 minute meander away to mop up the damage with some well earned carbs. Although if you need gluten free, or if you’re just on a health kick , you can swap out your pasta for courgetti for a mere quid.

My first visit served up a delicious beef shin ragu, and my last was pork and lemon ragu, which I would never have thought to put together, but was well balanced and moreish as usual. They also serve up a sweet, often tiramisu (around £4), and it’s easy to see why people lazily hang around for a while over a couple of more drinks; the prices are good, the atmosphere buzzing and importantly, the staff are so very friendly and always seem to be having a good time.

The rest of the time, Forza Win runs a kind of supper club on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, the first sitting at 7pm followed by a second at 9.30pm. The menu is seasonal, with the Spring edition featuring a minestrone to start, a primo course of pasta – linguine alla vongola this month, followed by lemon sole with blackened leeks, pecorino and olive oil for main and culminating in a blood orange and chocolate semifredo to finish. All this for £25, plus a well stocked bar available on the night featuring good Italian wines, beer and strong cocktails to boot. Sounds like one to add to The List if you ask me.

4.1, 133 Copeland Rd, London SE15 3SN
+4420 7732 9012

Liked this post? Subscribe here so you never miss an update!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Europe Florence Food From Travels Italy

Antica Trattoria da Tito

“Do you know the difference between restaurant and trattoria?”
My wonderful B&B host Biagio instantly launched into an explanation, “a trattoria is owned by family. Local! Traditional Tuscan – is very delicious. Trattoria da Tito is one of the very best in Florence. Restaurant is just…restaurant.”

Antica Trattoria da Tito turned out to be about five doors down from my B&B on via San Gallo. It’s a quiet street, less than five minutes walk around the corner from the home of Michelangelo’s David and just over ten minutes from the city’s spectacular Duomo. It being so close, I figured perhaps Biagio was purely recommending the trattoria to help out his neighbours, and yet when I walk down around 8.45pm on a Tuesday evening there is a queue out of the door and a waiting list. Luckily it’s only a half an hour wait, so I grab a glass of red wine and wait my turn for a meal in what is quite clearly not a struggling business down a quiet Florentine street after all.

My wait over, I’m led to a table towards the back of this bustling restaurant, Hotel California acting as the soundtrack to the electric atmosphere. This is the kind of restaurant – or, forgive me – trattoria,  where they explicitly say on their menus not to ask for your meat to be cooked more: “WE DON’T DO IT!!!” And don’t even think about asking for a cappuccino. This is true Italian authenticity, both in the food, the atmosphere and the service. Don’t mess with it. And why would you want to? The staff all look like they’re having ridiculous amounts of fun as they rush around serving with bright smiles, squeezing between each other at high speed, sharing quick jokes on the move and cheering raucously when one of their colleagues smashes a tray of glasses. They remember your name and they pull you the other side of the bar to do large shots of limoncello at the end of the night, before making you promise to return.

Smug with my choice to act on Biagio’s recommendation, I settled in to enjoy the buzz of laughing patrons at the tables around me, ordering half a litre of Chianti for a mere €6. An order of the tomato and basil bruschetta (€6.00) arrived shortly afterward, and I can confirm with confidence that it’s one of the most delicious bruschettas I’ve ever had. It was just so fresh. The perfect starter.

Next up was the wild boar pappardelle (€12.00), freshly made that day, as it is every day at Tito’s. It was as good as you would expect pasta to be in Italy, the simplicity of the dish delivered at high quality. The steaks and other mains such as traditional ossobuco being delivered to their tables looked amazing too, though I just can’t handle the amount of food Italians eat in one sitting, to my true despair. Which I guess just means I have to go back someday, as I promised. What a chore.

Via S. Gallo, 112, 50129 Firenze, Italy

Liked this post? Subscribe here so you never miss an update!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.