Pizza Pilgrims: Berwick Street Market’s much needed boost

Nduja and Portobello mushroom pizza from Pizza Pilgrims

This featured in last Thursday’s London Evening Standard but for those of you who didn’t catch it, please see my review of Pizza Pilgrims on Berwick Street below.

While I’m on the subject of write ups and, I want to add that this isn’t so much a street food review site as a guide for people to use in the city. There is a great deal of street food out there in the capital at the moment but not all of it is very good. With LSF I hope to show who I think is worth trekking across London for, rather than presenting a long list of good or bad reviews that you have to wade through when you’re planning a trip out to find some. More often than not I will take friends, family or other foodies out with me to try out new places so a write up is not limited to the opinions of one person. I should also say that it is not an exhaustive list and I have a long list of places to visit…

Enough chat, here is a place worth going to that I have been waiting to put on LSF:

PIZZA PILGRIMS: The holy grail for the pizza faithful in Soho’s Berwick Street market (ORIGINAL REVIEW HERE)

4/5 stars

James Elliot prepares the dough. Pic credit: Matt Writtle

Monday to Friday at Berwick Street Market, W1 ( £5-£6 for a small pizza

ONE couple had cycled all the way from east Dulwich to try the pizza with nduja (en-doo-ya — a spicy Calabrian sausage). Another just wanted to guzzle hers right there without wasting valuable eating time carting it back to the office. For me, three guys making pizza under a green gazebo was a welcome prospect in the driving rain.

Brothers Thom and James Elliot started their “Napoli-inspired street food” stall Pizza Pilgrims a few months ago and already their pitch on Soho’s Berwick Street market is pulling in the crowds. The story goes that James — the lively one who drives the van and runs the stall with his equally chirpy friend Louis — used to work as a TV researcher, while Thom, now “the business side”, was in advertising. After a combined decision to ditch their day jobs they joined up with a TV crew, made a pilgrimage to Italy in search of a tiny Piaggio van and a 400kg pizza oven, and learned the art of pizza-making with a chef in Naples (James having already done a pre-university cooking course there).

Our girl was too busy having a pizza moment to recommend anything, so looking at bowls of fresh ingredients, I picked a whole one divided into halves of nduja and Portobello mushrooms, picked up that morning from a neighbouring stall.

Each bite began with a light crunch — not teeth-breaking but satisfying (they source their flour from a Naples mill, Molino Caputo). The tomato tasted so sweet and fresh while the mushrooms had a lovely earthy taste and meaty texture. A drizzle of home-smoked garlic oil perked the whole thing up. James was generous with the nduja on the second half but being unusually mild it did need some cracked pepper and a sprinkling of garlic oil.

“Right, I think we’re done for the day,” decide the boys. Five minutes later, a woman bounces up to challenge them about the practicalities of the gas-fired oven-on-wheels. Just as James is midway through explaining why he doesn’t believe in the hype of wood-fired ovens — “It’s Italian propaganda” — another hungry customer arrives and begins to gawk at the tomatoes. One more pizza is carefully rolled out, baked and quickly demolished. This might be Berwick Street market’s much-needed boost.


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