Happy 2014! Or is it? Just to make January even more depressing, I’m doing a detox diet. It’s full of things like quinoa and kale and pulses. *Sigh*. But frankly, something has to be done to counteract the seasonal abuse which I put my body through every Christmas. I’m trying to unlearn certain habits – such as, mince pies are NOT a chaser with every meal, nor is it sustainable to upend a box of alcoholic truffles into my mouth after every dinner, following cheese/fruit cake/Panettone. To punish myself further, I thought I’d reminisce about happier times by writing about the last amazing meal I had before I started this punishing escapade. I’m talking about the VERY BEST PIZZA IN THE WHOLE OF LONDON TOWN.
Oh yes. You’ll find this mythical pizza at Mediterranea restaurant in Crystal Palace, deepest, darkest South London. My lovely manor. I’ve been have been holding off telling you about the pizza and Sardinian food here for bloody ages. I actually have half-written blog posts stored away on my computer from as far back as 2009 – but every time I’ve almost written about it, something has made me hold back, because I wanted to keep their pizza a secret for myself. It’s that good. It has a beautifully thin, crisp crust, charred and bubbled in places, and it doesn’t go soggy. The restaurant boasts a kick-ass custom built Italian stone pizza oven that reaches Dante-esque temperatures of up to 350C, ensuring the perfection of the pizza crust. Efisio, the Sardinian owner, puts the very best buffalo mozzarella, mushrooms, artichokes, anchovies and cured meats on top. Every morsel tastes beautiful. The mozzarella is creamy, fresh and light. I am salivating just thinking about it. In fact, I think the pizza here trumps even that of Franco Manca, which I rate very highly too.
There is also a full Sardinian menu, which I have tried numerous dishes from, and it’s wonderful. Seafood skewered on fresh rosemary, hearty soups with chickpeas and tomato, fragrant grilled meats, unusual cheeses. Oh – and did I mention that they make heavenly fresh pasta with rustic sausage sauce? And you can nibble on delicious rosemary-scented pane carasau – a crunchy flatbread dusted with sea salt and olive oil. But to be honest, I struggle to get past the pizza option on the menu most of the time…
What I also love about this restaurant is it’s lack of pretentiousness. It’s not a ‘cool’ place – it has kinda 90’s decor and there’s nothing earth-shattering about the atmosphere, but it’s calm and friendly. Efisio – albeit kind of melancholy and reserved on arrival – soon warms up and is very charming. This place really feels like a neighbourhood secret, and the pizza is worth crawling across hot coals for. I mean it.
My pizza with artichoke, mozzarella, mushrooms and anchovy: absolute heaven, with anchovies punching their way through creamy mozzarella, and artichoke to smooth everything over:
My husband’s pizza with creamy mozzarella, fragrant mushrooms and punchy Sardinian cured meat:
Good strong coffee to finish:
Mediterranea Restaurant and Pizzeria
21 Westow Street
London SE19 3RY
Tel: 020 8771 7327