When I saw that food critic, author and all round comfort food enthusiast Daniel Young (@youngandfoodish) was organising an evening of pizza tasting, I knew I had to go. When I saw it happened to be at our local and ultimate favourite pizza place of all time, L'Antica (no, they're not paying me), it was like it was fate. I mean, we love the place so so much that Rich actually wants to hire the whole restaurant for his big birthday next year. Tickets at £30 for aperitif, six different types of pizza and some vino sounds like a good deal to me, and when celebrated pizzaiolo Giacomo Guido is in charge then I'd bite your hand off for them.
Daniel was a welcoming host and had let us know in advance that it was no problem to bring the little terror with us - the lady at L'Antica always makes a big fuss of him, so we knew it would be fine - and he got on with the important business of sleeping while we chose our aperitifs.
It was freezing cold and too depressing to drink an Aperol spritz when you're not living it up in the Italian riviera, so it was prosecco all round and a little bruschetta to whet the appetite.
Onto the main matter in hand as Daniel introduced the first of the night's pizzas: the Marinara. The quintessential Neapolitan pizza characterised by its sheer simplicity, allowing the work of the pizzaiolo to shine through. In an authentic Neapolitan pizza you are looking for remarkable lightness of crust - none of this heavy doughy rubbish that you so often see - as the Naples pizza is intended to be folded and eaten on the go. You should be seeing big air pockets in the dough, particularly around the cornicione (crust). Go light or go home. Topped with a sweet tomato, garlic, oregano sauce and finished with basil, this is how the Neapolitans do it and they are not to be argued with. (Pictured in the title shot)
Next its everybody's favourite, the Margherita. Buffalo mozzarella is essential, and Daniel and Giacomo had gone to the trouble of sourcing some Pomodorino del Piennolo del Vesuvio, the prized grape tomato of Campania. These tomatoes are super sweet and incredibly, don't need to be watered thanks to the moisture in the sea air. They certainly made for a delicious margherita:
Then it was time for our usual favourite, the Caravaggio, which is a bianca pizza (no tomato) with a traditional combination of friarelli (wild broccoli) and Neapolitan fennel sausage with smoked mozzarella and a touch of fresh chilli:
I've mentioned others' attempts at the Caravaggio before - namely Pizza Pilgrims and Franco Manca - but this is really the best one. Daniel lists L'Antica at number two in his frequently changing chart of London's best pizzas, but interestingly says that we place too much emphasis on the restaurant when really it is all about the actual pizzaiolo, which is very true. Long may Giacomo remain at L'Antica!
Giacomo hard at work. He made a lot of phenomenal pizza in a very short space of time.
The next pizza promised a lot with big name ingredients like burrata (and you know how I feel about burrata), bresaola, rocket, cherry tomatoes and parmesan. Daniel was a bit uneasy about the number of toppings, this was definitely his limit. A truly Neapolitan pizza only uses very few, after all. Believe it or not, I haven't actually fiddled about with the colours much on the photo below - the bresaola really was that rich colour, and you can see how lean it is. This one didn't *quite* live up to its hype for me, but the appreciative hum around me disagreed.
Next up was a veggie special of aubergine and courgette, and one of the only pizzas to use tomato and mozzarella and they pooled together beautifully for ultimate satisfaction. Lovely jubbly:
Lastly, I have a new favourite pizza in this cappocollo (I talked about this here), ricotta and smoked mozzarella number. It was utterly divine and I don't care that it's not on the normal menu at L'Antica, I'll be calling ahead and requesting it every time like a diva. Again, the pinkness of the pork is for real:
Imagine how happy we were to have eaten that lot. You can almost see a small tear of joy here from Rich, as all his dreams were realised:
But wait! There's more! L'Antica do a very delicious nutella pizza for real greedy gutses, but for this special Pizza Tuesday event there were ideally sized little beignets of nutella which were exactly what you needed to finish off the meal.
Bravo Daniel and Giacomo. Come back soon please! You can sign up for Daniel's newsletter to hear about upcoming events like this. I've got my eye out for a burger challenge he is planning...