Jonathan R Jones checks out a seriously stylish new Neapolitan restaurant in London Bridge.
If the name of this restaurant leaves you perplexed, you’re not alone. Google translate couldn’t help me either. Apparently it’s a slang word from Neapolitan dialect which roughly translates as ‘is it true?’ Savour its delights and you might find yourself using that very exclamation…
This is not your average pizza place. It’s a temple to simple, Neapolitan food. The menu revolves around straightforward, honest dishes made with truly great quality ingredients, many sourced from the famous Borough Market which is literally around the corner.
The starters are a case in point. Everything we tried was fabulous – from the Finocchiona (a delicious fennel-flavoured salami from Southern Tuscany) to the warm mixed seasonal vegetables. But if you have to pick one starter go for the Burrata al Tartufo. This creamy white cheese from Puglia made with truffle is something that has to be tasted to be believed. It worked well with the rosemary focaccia but I could grab a fork and eat this all day long on its own.
The pizzas are not what you might expect – certainly not if you’re used to either Pizza Express’s passable offering or the huge, wet, gastro-pub variation. Here they are dryer, but with a moist, almost spongy base. Don’t worry we’re not talking Pizza Hut deep crust – but there is definitely a chewiness here, making the pizza at once tender and light. Apparently, the secret is the real Italian sea water that is used in the dough. Yes, I was sceptical too. And this restaurant is so good that it doesn’t need a gimmick. However, with pizza this good perhaps there’s something to it.
Specially treated food-grade sea water is used not just in the crusts of the pizza, but even in some of the cocktails. Try a Tommy Sea Margarita – served short with a kick of jalapeno chilli. For a longer and even more refreshing cocktail, go for the Southwark Spritz – freshly squeezed cucumber, lime and apple juices shaken with elderflower and topped with prosecco in a fabulous ‘piscine’ glass. There’s also a surprisingly well-priced wine list, a few bottled beers, and a selection of Fever Tree soft drinks.
Sweets are either made in-house or come courtesy of Borough Market, like the rum baba (a delicious yeast cake soaked in rum and filled with crème pâtissière). The chocolate and almond capresina is a knockout for chocolate lovers.
The huge – and I mean huge – floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows of this corner site flood the interior with light. They also give a sensation, which is at once enjoyable and disconcerting, that you are actually on the street. White walls, grey marble and an eclectic (mid-century modern meets Victorian) collection of vintage dark wood furniture make the space feel like an upmarket canteen. Very upmarket indeed judging by the uber-hip light fittings by Michael Anastassiades. Pot plants add a domestic or even staff-room feel. You certainly don’t feel you’re in the corporate jungle of London Bridge – and the bohemian feel is certain to be a hit with theatre-goers heading to the nearby Menier Chocolate Factory.
Starters £7 – £10, pizzas £7 to £15, sweets £6, cocktails £8 and a choice of wines from £33 to £68.
The best pizza in London – is it true?!
‘O ver, 44-46 Southwark Street, London SE1 1UN, 020 7378 9933, overuk.com