When date night is upon us, choosing whether to pizza or not to pizza is a tricky thing.
Firstly because I do that ‘no let’s be healthy, pizza has too many carbs’ thing (but then proceed to order the naughtiest/cheesiest meal on the menu with a side of fries) and secondly, how do you possibly choose between pizza establishments?!
Well, last week we decided to trust in crust, go with the dough, venture to new lands, take a journey, a pilgrimage if you will, all the way down to…
Pizza Pilgrims Playground
What: Pizza Restaurant
Where: West India Quay (…also Shoreditch, Soho, Covent Garden, Swingers, Exmouth Market, Kingly St)
When: Mon – Sat: 11.30am – 10.30pm / Sun: 12pm – 9.30pm (eat in and takeaways)
How much: £6 – £12
You can’t really go wrong with pizza, but these guys have definitely got it right.
Firstly in terms of the cost – everything on the menu at Pizza Pilgrims is reasonably priced, with mains (The Marinara) starting at £5, which means you can treat your date without feeling out of pocket.
Secondly, the effort that the founders have gone into to master their food (see below) has certainly paid off. They ship the flour in all the way from Naples and use cow’s milk mozzarella to ensure they create the perfect Neapolitan pizzas, made to feel even more authentic by the pizza van parked outside.
With it being date night AND a Friday night, we YOLO’d and went all out with the food…
For mains, we opted for sharing a Pepp A Pig Pizza, a Calzone Fritta and some deep fried Mac’N’Cheese (an obvious choice for a cheese lover). Now I won’t pretend that I’m an expert in food, but in my opinion, all of our choices were delicious – particularly the sweet teardrop peppers on the pizza.
This was followed by a Tiramisu, served in a cute little coffee cup and a ring of Nutella wrapped in EVEN MORE DOUGH (aka another calzone) all for me. I didn’t share. No Regrets.
It’s also worth mentioning that the staff are friendly and were hugely attentive and helpful in answering questions about the menu and the new venue, especially Dwight the Manager who let us have a go on nearly all the games while we waited.
To give you a bit of background, Pizza Pilgrims was established in 2011 by brothers Thom and James Elliot. Neither were pizza fanatics at the time, but with the rise of the street food industry looming they saw a gap in the market. Rather than importing a van from Italy to the UK, the Elliots decided to pick it up themselves, travel throughout Italy and learn everything they could about the art of pizza making.
The pilgrimage began…
The two brothers meandered through the country with a small camera crew in tow, filming their journey which was later aired on The Food Network. After visiting a huge number of places and professionals to learn the tricks of the trade, they returned to the UK and quickly grew from their first stall on Berwick Street Market in 2012, to a restaurant chain of 7 locations as of this year (and a cookbook!).
By now, I’m sure you’ve started to gather that I’m a big fan of an activity date, so when I heard about the new opening of Pizza Pilgrims Playground, which combines the likes of pizza, ping pong and a pinball machine, I thought I’d check it out.
The restaurant itself boasts a large terrace by the water in West India Quay, in between giants like KPMG and Citibank – places I was never destined to be in my career but that do provide an impressive backdrop to the various riverside venues both during the day and by night.
The playground part of this Pizza Pilgrims comes in the form of a bocca ball lane (boules, basically bitches) and a ping pong table, both outside – perfect for keeping you occupied while you wait for your food in the summer.
Inside, the restaurant is set over two floors and feels somewhat retro with posters of old films on the walls leading you downstairs to the lower floor, which the lower resembles games room/den you were never allowed as a child. The basement comes fully equipped with a separate bar, a 22-man Fussball table and a pinball machine.
My favourite source of entertainment which I was annoyingly shit at, came in the form of a huge 65″ plasma TV which you can book out for 8 people to play the newest Mario Kart while gorging yourselves on pizza delivered to the area (£25/hour, pizza included).
Despite my inability to navigate the Rainbow Road upgrade, I would highly recommend the mixture of nostalgia and Neopolitan dough at Pizza Pilgrims Playground and will certainly visit again.
✓ Amazing Food
✓ Really fair prices
✓ Pizza bases are amazing and the Nutella Calzone is the dream
✓ Staff were very pleasant and helpful
✓ Games and pizza is a killer combination for any date
✘ Basement feels slightly, well… underground and a bit dark
✘ Only two controllers for Nintendo currently!
☆ 9/10 ☆
Overall, my first Pizza Pilgrims experience was very enjoyable. The restaurant feels both modern and retro at the same time, and the addition of games to any date is a great one. While the location may count against it initially, West India Quay has a buzzing atmosphere to enjoy while you devour some scrumptious and reasonably priced pizza.