Continuing my trail along London’s pizza scene, I arrived at the Great British Pizza Company. Following its success in Margate, former chef Rachel Seed and journalist Lisa Richards bagged a second site on the foodie hotspot of Clerkenwell’s Exmouth Market. The street has a fête like quality, with bunting and lights adorning the road and diners enjoying their drinks/meals al fresco. Like its sister seaside eatery, pink neon, charcoal-toned walls, scuffed tables and vintage metal-framed chairs set the tone. The atmosphere is trendy, young and casual, but not at all pretentious – an ideal addition to this part of London. Diners ranged from City workers winding down to a Friday-night pizza, to arty Clerkenwell types and families treating themselves to a communal supper out.
Central to it’s youthful ambience, is its DIY ethos. Eschewing the full table service experience, customers order food and drinks at the counter at the front and help themselves to drinks, including organic wine straight from temperature-controlled barrels. The ready-cut pizzas, meanwhile, are served on rustic wooden boards without cutlery, allowing diners to enjoy the hands-on pizza experience – which, for my companion, is the best way to enjoy a pizza.
The small but well thought-out menu consists of eight varieties of pizza, as well as weekly specials, all prepared using seasonal British ingredients from artisan producers. Charcuterire, for instance, is supplied by the wonderful Cannon & Cannon, whilst apple juice is from Chegworth Valley and pressed from Kentish apples.
The wood-fired pizzas are incredibly crispy, super-thin and surprisingly light – a total contrast to the other candidates in London’s top pizza, such as Franco Manca’s heady sourdough bases. Made from British OO flour, the bases are more similar to the Roman style thin pizzas than their richer Neapolitan counterparts which are softer and more chewy. This leaves more space for experimental toppings. On our visit, my companions and I shared a simple “Margate-rita”, Peppers and Goat’s Curd, and Pear, Ricotta and Blue Cheese. The latter was undoubtedly my favourite; whilst I’ve always been a fan of bianco pizzas without tomato sauce, I had suspicions about blue cheese. But the oozing cheese wasn’t overpowering and was further uplifted by the freshness of the pears. The pizzas had a homemade quality and were boosted by the high-quality Kentish rapeseed oils, both garlic and chilli varieties.
For desert, light gelato matches the light pizzas. Ice creams and sorbets are specially made by the renowned Gelupo in small batches, with flavours changing seasonally. On our visit, we enjoyed Salted Caramel, Rum and Raisin, and a deliciously pungent Raspberry Sorbet. What’s more, the coffee is sourced from Climpson & Sons in Hackney, so I’ll be sure to return to sample their brew for an afternoon coffee soon. And on another visit, for a gluten-free pizza.
The Great British Pizza Company, 50 Exmouth Market, London, EC1R 4QE