The pizza game in London just got real with the opening of L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele in Stoke Newington.
Yeah, I know the Stokey franchise of this legendary Neapolitian pizzeria has been open for a few weeks now. I had been waiting for the hype to cool down before venturing over. Word is the queues to order can stretch almost all the way back to the original eatery in Naples. But without doubt, I’d been excited about da Michele coming here since I heard the news last year.
Fortunate me, I’d been to the Naples mothership a few years ago and reckon the visit was one of the tastiest experiences of my life. So, my expectations for the pizza at the London branch teetered between “Oh my God this is going to be the best thing I’ll eat in London!” and “There’s no way this pizza will half as good as what I savoured in Naples.” In actuality, the experience wound up being somewhere in the middle, but far closer to the delighted “oh my God” end of the spectrum than the disappointed “no way” side.
The London version was super close to being just as much a juicy and simple gastronomic joy – with a soupy middle and slightly chewy and carbon-y, wood-fired crust and the right amount of sun kissed sweet tomato sauce and bits of fior di latte cheese – as what I’d devoured a Napoli.
Prices start at £6.50 for a margherita. That’s great value for gorgeous pizza. But is it worth queuing up for a wait of potentially one hour?
My visit to the London da Michele was upon invitation as a guest of LSDM for the first of two Le Strade della Mozzarella events in London. LSDM is an international tour showcasing Italian PDO Buffalo Mozzarella alongside other Southern Italian foods such tomatoes, pasta and extra-virgin olive oil. In addition to the getting munch through da Michele’s basic menu I got sample a range of pizzas made by pizzaioli from the Naples area.
So, there were no queues when I went, and I had a seat saved for me as soon as I showed up. Still I’d say people ought to give it a go – even if you have to wait a while. Of course, on the other hand, in the past few years a good number of excellent Neapolitan style pizza places spread across London. Ah! But how do they compare to this most famous of pizzerias? There’s only one way to find out.
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele is located at 125 Stoke Newington Church Street, N16 0UH (with the original branch in Naples and outlets in Rome and Tokyo as well).
For info about the London branch go to facebook.com/damichelelondon.
For details about and history of the original da Michele in Naples, go to damichele.net.