Pizza is actually an umbrella term for a wide variety of flat, topped baked goods. The typical image in most cases is, of course, the Pizza Napoletana, that is, the traditional Neapolitan recipe, whose method of production and the use of the correct ingredients are regularly controlled. However, tastes and preferences are also diverse when it comes to pizza. There are countless regional variations, the forefathers of Italian pizza, for example, such as the foccacia from Liguria or the Apulian pizza pugliese and, of course, recipes from the Orient or the Greek pita. Since the end of the 19th century, the rather thick and doughy American version of pizza has added to the round of options.
It would be presumptuous to claim that there is only one true pizza in this cosmos. Ultimately, one’s own culinary vita determines one’s preferences and thus, to some extent, the childhood memories that are awakened when just such a pizza is served. That’s also the consensus of a recent edition of Monocle’s fabulous podcast The Menu. In this very program, host Markus Hippi met in London with Daniel Young, editor of Phaidon’s forthcoming Where to Eat Pizza. Young and his co-authors have compiled 1,700 of the best locations in 48 countries. And his recommendation for London is the Story Deli.
A few days after I heard this interview, I also ended up in London. And of course, I set out to find this nondescript side entrance, with no sign or indication at all. Here in Bethanal Green Road it is said to be hiding, the direct access to London pizza heaven, just a few meters from Shoreditch Hightstreet.
And indeed, the Story Deli is not only wonderfully pretty, bright and flooded with light thanks to huge skylights – there is also an insanely friendly, almost familiar atmosphere here. A far cry from the classic decorative monotony of typical, rather poor Italian restaurants.
The pizza is also completely different. No yeast is used for the dough. The flour comes directly from Italy. Only with just this flour, it was explained to me, the desired result succeeds: a paper-thin and consistently super crispy pizza. The edges make light bubbles – the secret of the Italian flour unfolds its effect here.
We tried a sensational margherita (wonderfully sweet tomatoes, just a hint of buffalo mozzarella and parmesan) and one of the variations from the menu with chorizo, mushrooms, red onions, rosemary oil and roasted herbs. With each pull of the pizza knife, the pizza cracks apart with a loud crunch, fine, crispy pieces of dough shatter and release new swaths of delicious aroma, next to it drips fine olive oil in which you want to dip the small fragments of dough. Great!
I agree unconditionally with the verdict of Markus Hippi and Daniel Young. The Story Deli not only offers sensational pizza in a fabulous atmosphere – it also shows how widely and wonderfully pizza can be interpreted when prepared with love and expertise….