I’ll try to keep this one brief. Last Thursday, we went to Santa Maria Pizzeria in Ealing, voted recently as having the best pizzas in London by TimeOut magazine. It’s not far from where we live and so off we went. We were looking forward to trying their authentic Neapolitan style pizzas all baked in a wood burning oven.
When we got there, the tiny place was utterly packed and we were told to wait. We were perfectly fine with this and about half an hour later, a couple left and we got their table. However, after we sat down and were given menus, we had to wait another very long while to get our order in. To her credit, the waitress did let us know that she was coming to take our order soon but the third time she came over to say it was really taking the piss. Service was inefficient to say the least.
First impressions of the pizzas that arrived were good: the crust was thin and crisp, the centre of the pizza held its own, and the toppings looked good. The first few bites of my Santa Caterina pizza (tomato sauce, mozzarella, Neapolitan salame, fresh chilli, extra virgin olive oil, parmesan, basil) were good too – the crust had a good balance of crispiness and chew and was lighter than that of Franco Manca. Unfortunately, it sort of went downhill from there. Firstly, the tomato sauce was quite bland, lacking a good tomato flavour. And as I continued eating the pizza, I noticed that the crust lost all of its appeal as it cooled down. Towards the end, the crust became too hard and too chewy and my jaw was getting quite the workout. But really, my main complaint is with the tomato sauce – I want to taste that sauce, not just feel it. (The tomato sauce on the pizzas in Rome still stick in my memory.)
I also tasted Blai’s Santa Carmela (tomato sauce, mozzarella, prosciutto cotto, mushrooms, extra virgin olive oil, parmesan, basil) and his was considerably underdone on top (you can see how pale it is in the photo below) while inexplicably, the bottom was quite charred – too charred. Was this an off day? I have no idea but the kitchen sure didn’t seem rushed.
Trying to get the bill was a chore. Our waitress had disappeared and the other waiter was too busy chatting to his mate on his mobile to look up onto the heaving room; we ended up walking up to the counter to pay. I’ve read the other reviews online – most people have commented on the warm and welcoming service at Santa Maria; we found it to be the total opposite on our visit – it was cold and indifferent.
Best pizza in London? Well, they were good but I’m not convinced they are the best. I had really wanted to love them but we left disappointed. Others have had better experiences so I do hope it’s the same for you.
15 St Marys Road
London W5 5RA