In a city where it’s hard to move for pop-up street food experiences, it’s easy to forget that pizza is the original P. This 17th-century Neapolitan flatbread was originally intended for the mouths of Italian peasants, but it has elevated itself over the years and now finds itself at the centre of menus at fine restaurants like the Mayfair Pizza Co.
Although it was the middle of April, the UK was experiencing a once in a lifetime heatwave, and so as we strolled through the streets of Mayfair it wasn’t hard to imagine we were in Napoli, on our way to a local restaurant.
Once we were shown to our table, we had a chance to look around the restaurant. You immediately notice the ceiling windows overhead that let in a colossal amount of light, then the picture of the huge grey dog on the wall, then the heart of the place, the busy, open kitchen.
We started with a couple of cocktails, it was the sort of day that demanded them. I had a Lipari cocktail, which I assume was named after the volcanic island off the north of Italy, and like the island it erupted into my world with some vigour. I’d chosen it because of its strange sounding ingredients – port, peach, prosecco and orange – which I thought would be an odd mix, but I was wrong. It had a fresh yet traditional flavour, not unlike an Aperol Spritz, and was just as easy to go down.
Next we had to choose from one of the many starters or from the list of small bites. Although the starters looked good, they are as you’d expect at an Italian restaurant – garlic bread, bruschetta, squid etc – and so we went for the more interesting light bites.
My partner and I shared a mix of 3 – bolognaise bites, pecorino and prosciutto croquettes and black truffle and mozzarella arancini. The star of the trio was the arancini, a wonderful blend between the truffle and the mozzarella, closely followed by the bolognaise bites, little tastes of memories taking me back to my own mother’s own superb version of that world-famous dish. I would recommend substituting the croquettes for a bruschetta – the croquettes were good but the 3 dishes combined don’t make for a particularly colourful table and so neglected that other key component of eating – the eyes!
Once these dishes had been swept away my partner ordered herself another cocktail, a Staibano Collins which came adorned with a red and white swirl straw, echoing the parking spots for the gondolas in Venice. It had a good yet sweet flavour and I was glad I stuck with my carafe of Terre del Noce Chardonnay, an excellent wine from the Dolomite region.
Then the reason why we were here, the restaurant’s namesake – the pizza! It has become quite commonplace for restaurants to have an excellent pizza oven – more often than not a wood-fired pizza oven – and so any competitive advantage is now sought in the dough and the toppings, rather than the method by which it is cooked. At Mayfair, the base of the pizza has a beautiful chew to it and a flavour that edges towards its sourdough cousins whilst the toppings are as fresh as you would want. We shared the Boscaiola Pizza, that traditional Tuscan combination of woody mushroom flavours with prosciutto draped all over for good measure. We also shared the chicken tagliatelle, perhaps not the most imaginative of choices but executed well.
The plates were taken away by the efficient staff and our minds naturally turned towards the desserts. As I gazed down upon the bustling passage way below, at the hot men and women trying desperately to cool down during the hottest April that had ever been recorded, one item on the dessert list became the only logical choice – the Amalfi lemon cheesecake with raspberry sorbet. As glamorous as the tourists are along this famous stretch of coastline, so is this dessert delicious – not so sweet, with the bitterness of the lemon coming through and then a shock of raspberry cool. To accompany this we had the salted chocolate Oreo tart, an interesting take on ever popular salty desserts and worth a try.
I must also mention (although we didn’t partake) the impressive vegan menu that this restaurant has to offer. Pizza probably isn’t the first dish that you would think of when thinking of a delicious vegan meal, but Mayfair Pizza Co. offers a range of starters, pizzas, pastas and even desserts as a very appealing alternative to the usual carrot burger or mung bean salad you may normally find.
The Mayfair Pizza Co is tricky to find – we must have circled it a couple of times before locating the secret passageway that led to its door – however it’s worth the search. A beautifully laid out restaurant that is fitting for the location, serving a simple dish that has had centuries to be perfected. If you’re in the area, this place is definitely worth a visit.
Mayfair Pizza Co.
4 Lancashire Court, London, W1S 1EY