I arrive on a freezing cold Friday evening, its trying to snow and I'm with a group of friends who are celebrating a slew of December Birthdays (Including mine and the GF's).
Entering through the main doors, we are initially bemused to be greeted by what appears to be a pair of black clad nightclub bouncers, we make our way past them and through the door to Pizza East proper.
The interior is extremely large, moodily lit and dark, and completely stunning....its a fantastic space....benches, wooden floorboards, bare concrete walls... a large central bar and wood-burning pizza ovens to one side...which are surrounded by a whole kitchen crew.....speedily feeding pizzas in, one of them is making the dough for a base and is spinning the elastic dough around his hand - its amazing to watch. The place is buzzing, packed to the gills with trendy East London punters.We are greeted in a friendly manner and quickly and efficiently shown to our table - which appears to be made out of solid lump of rivet clad weathered steel, like a slab of battleship. We take our first look at the menu.
I'd done as much research as I could beforehand, (One of my aces being an acquaintance on Twitter who actually works at Pizza East and has tried most of the menu - Thanks Libby!!) and I'd heard elsewhere that the soft polenta with Chicken Livers with salsa rossa calabrese was a thing of beauty. I had to have this.... For my main, I chose a San Danielle ham, buffalo riccota, hazlenut pesto and chard Pizza.
Such is the turnover of punters, that I was told upon booking that we'd only have the table for two hours max...happily the staff were extremely friendly and efficient, and despite the place being packed - our food came out from the kitchens quickly.
My chicken liver dish came up in a metal bowl, and certainly looked the part. Creamy yellow wet polenta piled with crispy chicken livers and salsa. I dug in greedily, and it was delicious...to be honest, I'm not normally much of a liver person - but one of the happy consequences of writing this blog is that I happily wade into dishes that even just a year ago I'd have probably avoided. This dish was seriously good, extremely rustic...and tasty. The crispiness of the fried livers contrasting nicely against the well seasoned polenta..and the salsa rossa adding a nice tangyness. Lovely Stuff.
Around the table various other dishes were going down seemingly just as well, in particular some rather nice lamb meatballs in tomato sauce and a nice plate of aubergine, orange, balsamic and chili.
Onto the Pizzas.
They come up looking nicely bubbled and charred from the wood burning ovens, the toppings are fresh, vibrant and generous....so far so good.
The pizza is delicious, but the star of the show is the base....it's beautiful....elastic and extremely tasty....I suspect I could eat on of the pizza bases on its own. I'm very impressed, and my friends around the table are equally generous with their praise for the food. It is superb.
Luckily for me, the GF can't manage the last third of her pizza, so I lend a helping mouth and eat her leftovers happily....I also seem to remember eating the leftovers of one of my mates pizzas as well....the memory is a tiny bit hazy due no doubt to generous alcohol consumption.
Onto desserts - and I'd been told by my Pizza East contact that 'the' dessert to order was salted chocolate caramel tart.
Well - she was bang on the money, it was delicious in an almost soft Dime Bar flavour type of way. I loved it.
Stuffed, and settling up - it was a nice surprise to see how little the bill actually came to, especially in this part of town. Starters and desserts coming in at around the £5 mark, and Pizzas being around £11.
My friends and I had a great meal, helped in part by the lovely and rather atmospheric interior, the buzzing vibe and the friendly staff. The food was superb....and as mentioned, it was extremely inexpensive. Pizza East is well worth a visit, I really enjoyed eating there and will be visiting again soon.
56 Shoreditch High Street
Telephone: 0207 729 1888