Thursday, 4 October 2012

Pizza Pilgrims, Berwick Street Market

Yet another arrival on the ever buzzing Berwick Street Market, Pizza Pilgrims have one aim - to make the most authentic tasting Neapolitan pizzas. To be honest they may have other aims too, don't we all have dreams, but I am not aware of what these might be. So, for simplicity's sake let us believe that authentic Italian pizzas are all that matters to them, now and forever.

In order to achieve this aim the pilgrims went on a pilgrimage (can you see what they've done there, very clever) to Italy to learn how to make the very best pizza from those who invented it in the first place. Just sounds like an excuse to go on holiday to avoid working though to be fair it seems to have been fruitful, they are now indeed making pizzas. Holiday or not it worked.

Now all that seems pretty sensible. What seems less sensible is the idea to build an oven in the back of their van. They haven't gone and stuffed an everyday electrical kitchen oven in the back, that would just be silly, they have instead built a proper wood/gas burning oven, that can reach temperatures up to 400 degrees. Though I can't fault their ingenuity, I am starting to wonder if the pilgrims aren't as smart as I first thought.
The Peerless Margherita
It seems the Pilgrims don't do things by half which bodes well for the pizzas. Most days this consists of 3, they vary from time to time to keep things interesting, for us and I guess themselves. Of course first on the menu is the Margarita. A classic, and a prerequisite for anyone making authentic Italian pizzas. This is always there, and it costs a very reasonable £5. The other two are the specials so to speak. They chop and change depending on the wind. Not strictly true the wind has nothing to do with it. It depends on what they fancy making and what ingredients they have. Favourites are the Nduja (spicy sausage), marinara (garlic, oregano) and portobello mushroom with smoked garlic, all £6. The pilgrims keep to the Italian pizza covenant that less is more when it comes to ingredients. Don't go expecting 10 different toppings, unless of course you bring your own! The quality of ingredients is paramount when keeping things simple, and the Pilgrims don't let us down. All ingredients are gathered fresh daily from Berwick street market, guaranteeing quality and flavour. Pizzas are not all about toppings though. A good base is as important to a pizza as hair on a cat. Cut corners here and your pizza will never fulfil its full potential. I am glad to say no corners have been cut. The dough is given a proper fermentation, allowing it to develop an ever so slightly sour taste, that is rare with most pizzas. Plus the the use of the authentic style oven gives the cooked base that characteristic stone baked/charred taste. If I had one slight criticism, it is crispness. It is chewy and toasty crisp in places but I would prefer a little more crunch. This is being very picky though as for something that is cooked in the back of a van it is near perfect.

With all good things though there is a catch. Unfortunately with street food vendors, it is always the same catch, sporadicity. They are always too keen to up sticks and set up stall elsewhere for a day, or 2. Musical festivals are the main draw, which I guess is understandable, a choice between the side of a road or a field with music and drunkards with money to spend on your wares is not a difficult decision. Its just unfortunate that on some days your pizza fix will have to wait. Fortunately these pizzas are worth the wait, so don't be too sad. Plus they generally keep their fans updated via twitter, so you'll be able to plan ahead.

Rating: 4.5/5
Cost: ££

Open: Generally Mon -Fri, 12 till 3ish


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