Pizza East is an obvious “do” if you’re from the neighborhood. It almost goes without saying. But for those new to London, or someone visiting the area, Notting Hill’s branch of Pizza East is where it’s at.
Another successful venture from the Soho House group, Pizza East can be found at the top of Portobello Road, and packed with diners of all ages any time of day. Bookings are always recommended, even though you wouldn’t expect a pizza joint to be packed at 10:00am or 3:00 in the afternoon. It’s because Pizza East is much more than just pizza. It’s a trendy brunch spot offering up international classics, an afternoon destination where you can feel the warmth of the pizza oven and a nice bottle of wine, and a full-service restaurant offering amazing starters, salads, entrees, pizzas, cheeses and desserts. There’s something for everyone, any time of day.
The aesthetics are also not what you would expect. Pizza East reminds me more of a French bistro than a quick Italian joint. The muted blues, creams, and soft wood tones make the bright open space cozy and inviting. The downstairs, usually kept open for walk-in diners, offers a full view of the pizza station, a small bar area that services the restaurant (but allows for walk up drink orders from customers waiting for a table), a small community dining area, and lots of little tables. The seating is extremely inviting, although having to wait for a table can be quite uncomfortable. You’re either standing by the hostess stand, basically over people trying to eat while making room for the constant flow of traffic, or standing in the back, trying to perch against a high little cocktail table, while dodging servers and patrons trying to get to the bar, the kitchen, the bathrooms or the computers. It is imperative to make a booking for this reason. Though the old-fashioneds do go down nice and easy while you wait.
The upstairs is much more relaxed. If you have a booking on a busy night, you’ll most likely be seated up there. Any table will be fine except their little garden room. It is awful. Our party of five was seated alone in that little space and the atmosphere was horrible. We may as well have stayed home. We couldn’t see another table and felt isolated the entire time. Our server seemed to forget about us most of the time, too. So aside from that little area, once again, if you have a booking, you’re golden.
So, once in the door and settled (or outside at one of the streetside tables) you get to finally enjoy the simple but flavorful menu Pizza East has to offer. Here are my tips for each part of the day:
-Eggs any style served with sourdough. Their sourdough bread is amazing. Sourdough also beats wholegrain from a health standpoint, so indulge!
-Pain au chocolat
-Granola, yoghurt, raw acacia honey
-Seasonal fruit, yoghurt
-They undertook their eggs! This is something I do not understand. Maybe it’s an American thing, but I believe yolks should be runny, not whites. I always ask for my egg whites or scrambled eggs well done, and even still, I have to send the dishes back 50% of the time. It’s painful. One time that stands out to me, I was dining with a pregnant friend who had to ask for her eggs to be cooked longer (after already requesting they be prepared well-done) and the chef declined!!! He said they were already done enough. My friend proceeded to ask again, more seriously, and finally the chef agreed, probably spitting in the food before sending it back. That was one of the most inappropriate situations I had ever witnessed in a restaurant. Especially to make a pregnant woman uncomfortable like that. What happened to “The Customer is Always Right?”
-They don’t make their juices. While they’re tasty, don’t expect them to be pressed to order. They come to your table bottled, from an outside company.
-Sometimes the portion sizes are inconsistent. I swear, their dishes range from 1-3 eggs depending on the day!
What to Expect
The Saturday and Sunday Brunch menu is just a small version of the Breakfast and All Day menu combined. I usually prefer one full menu over the other, depending on my mood, so I typically skip this mixed dining time period.
While Pizza East will usually be open on a Bank Holiday, they will most likely resort to their weekend Brunch menu over their regularly scheduled Breakfast menu. Just an FYI.
ALL DAY (LUNCH/DINNER):
-Burrata, changes seasonally, but always tasty.
-Mac’ n’ cheese. A crowd pleaser.
-Beef lasagne, one of my personal favorites, though I do believe the ground meat is too finely minced.
-Smoked sweet potato, a newer dish served with creme fraiche and rice that is just perfect when you’re not in a pizza mood, or want a healthier option.
-Spicy sausage, mozzarella, broccoli, cream pizza. Simply the best. Don’t let them talk you into the red version.
-Butter lettuce salad. Enough to share!
-Cheese and meat boards from the counter. Beware, they rarely give enough bread for the toppings! The burrata is A+, but they often run out!
-Apple crumble. They’ve stepped up their dessert game! They used to have nothing that even came close to tempting me. Now, their crumble hits the spot.
-Their service can be pretty awful. You either feel completely rushed or neglected by the staff over at Pizza East. The food comes out with no rhyme or reason, making it impossible to separate dishes into stages, like starters and entrees. I would say 50% of the time something is forgotten, whether it’s a drink or a side dish, and then you never see the server again. You get used to it.
-And, lastly, I’ve never enjoyed the Salt-Baked Salmon, but someone recently said it’s getting better. Just had to throw that in there.
So, there you have it! My overview of Pizza East. Head there for a quick, easy meal that won’t break the bank, any day of the week. It’s reliable, and fit for all parties, even kids. And remember, locals who possess the coveted Pizza East keychain get 50% off their table’s entire check Monday-Thursday days and Sunday nights. It is by far the best deal in town! Enjoy!
310 Portobello Road
London, W10 5TA