A sister’s birthday in my family spells pizza. Hurrah, a chance to sample Neapolitan pure sea-water made pizzas over at O’ver (pun intended). And they’re finished with organic olive oil from Sicily! The finest of Italian produce all round. Yes, you right to detect a hint of sarcasm. O’ver’s USP, in their words, is to be “the first restaurant in the UK to use the unique ingredient of pure seawater.” (Emphasis added.) They also position themselves as serving “healthy, delicious, genuine Neapolitan street food”. Neapolitan street food may be many things, but query healthy. This was confirmed when I had a quick glance at the Neapolitan street food dishes on their menu, on which almost every other ingredient is fritti (fried). Anyway, O’ver’s premise is hard to resist, even if just for the placebo. Combined with its Southwark Street corner positioning, I seized at the opportunity to enjoy a celebratory pizza (or three) here.
One of the things I love about O’ver is its location and the loft-shaped space of the room, with its marble counter, mid-century wood and ever so stylish brass pendant lights matching with their gold cutlery. It’s an incredibly intimate space, in spite of its central location. Its predominantly Italian client base, who were still arriving in their numbers at 9.30pm and exchanging casual “Ciaos”, felt testament to the authenticity of this place.
Our host for the evening was especially accommodating, offering us a table in the basement bar whilst we waited for our table to be ready, kindly sending us a glass of prosseco each when he learned that it was my sister’s birthday, and manoeuvring the pram upstairs for us in the interim.
We enjoyed our celebratory toast in their moodily lit and stylish basement bar, where the tables are decorated with lemons – perhaps alluding to their signature Sorrento pizza which features lemon rind.
O’ ver’s menu is properly Neapolitan. Back upstairs, for a starter bite, we shared a plate of Burrata al tartufo (£12) with some Rosemary seawater focaccia. This finest organic white truffle burrata from Apulia was thoughtfully sourced and simply presented and was probably my favourite dish of the evening, potentially beating the pizzas. Whilst I’m not usually one for antipasti when pizza is on the cards, the focaccia were perfectly charred, with irresistible smoky crusts. The rosemary added a welcome flavour, the buratta felt seductively indulgent and the white truffle screams luxury of course. We dipped the focaccia in every last drop of truffle-infused oil. The dish talks the talk; I was left speechless.
Onto the pizzas, we shared: Regina (£15), a combination of Neapolitan buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, San Marano DOP tomato sauce and basil; Margherita (£11) made with “fior di latte” mozzarella from Monti Lattari and some added Chiodini mushrooms; and my choice of Sorrento (£14), a white pizza made with Fior di latte mozzarella from Monti Lattari, Sorrento’s lemon rind, Vesuvio yellow cherry tomatoes, black pepper and basil. Everything is so meticulously sourced; it would be rude not to honour their origins.
Whilst my favourite pizza is usually (and pheraps surprisingly) a bianco, the Margherita and Regina were most enjoyable. The tomatoes tasted rich and ripe, and the cheeses were melt-in-the-mouth. The Sorrento, though pleasing, was very subtly flavoured. The zesty lemon was just about traceable and I felt this pizza as a whole could have done with a touch more seasoning, whether a leaf or two of basil, a generous sprinkling of oregano, or a cheese with a greater kick – may be a shaving or two of salty pecorino. The yellow tomatoes did paint a picture though and had been well roasted. They were more than just an afterthought.
The dough of all the pizzas, however, deserve a shout out in their own right. They are, after all, kneaded with pure seaswater giving them a natural saltiness. Blistered crust as pillowy as marshmallows, with a gorgeous, supple chew, they weren’t overly heavy at all. With a lightness of touch, they felt very digestible. Although I’m not sure whether it was the pure seawater working its magic, something was at play here to make these crusts too good to discard. The bases are also topped in the correct ratio,dressed rather than swamped. They’re a total contrast to the comparatively sloppy finish of a Franco Manco. The base is as much the hero as any number of DOP toppings.
I loved O’ver: its décor, the service, the clientele, and the pizzas (or focaccias), of course. Though this place was packed on a weekday night and I had to book a week before to secure a spot, I hope O’ver retains its sense of local charm, small size and artisanally sourced produce. Though it’s a relatively well known spot around the London pizza scene, this triangular-shaped pizzeria retains its sense of hidden treasure charm.
O’ver, 44-46 Southwark St, London SE1 1UN