Pizzeria Pellone

A review of another pizzeria – you’re probably guessing a theme behind Yumtini now – but this pizzeria lies close to my heart, or rather close to my flat!  Pizzeria Pellone unassumingly appeared on Lavender Hill three weeks ago.  Noticing its bright blue awnings whilst walking towards Queenstown Road one evening, I had a quick glance at their menu and my eyes lit up when I learnt that their founders were from Naples.  Having loved my also local Donna Margherita (on which, see my review here), I was keen to compare this venture with the former.  This was especially so given Pellone’s impressive menu, which features every Italian specialty ingredient you can think of: buffalo mozzarella (of course), but also pistachio pesto, piennolo tomatoes from Vesuvio, burrata cheese from Puglia…All sourced directly from Italy, the list goes on.  After chatting with its very warm founder, Antonio Pellone, I learnt that a friend of one of his friend’s actually opened Donna Margherita 20 years ago.  Naples is a small world apparently!

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As well as their top quality ingredients, I also love Pellone’s sense of tradition and passion.  Its roots lie in Antonio’s grandfather, who opened the first Pellone restaurant in Naples in 1972.  Having working around the world for five years, from France and Italy, to Morocco and the US (specifically San Francisco where he worked at his friend’s restaurant), Antonio set up shop in Battersea.

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Pellone’s rustic décor also continues its warm and welcoming feel.  Square Polaroid snaps are pinned up on hanging lines around wooden shelves, low hanging pendant lights are strung around, and mismatching plates and olive oil holders ooze charm: all make it feel cosy and trattoria-esque.  And on the evening my companion and I visited, it was full of Italians: a promising sign of any good Italian eatery.

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Antonio’s jet-setting travels have interestingly left their mark on the menu.  Alongside the Neapolitan “classic” pizzas, including the Marinara, Bufalina and Diavolo, a section of the menu is dedicated to more “gourmet” combinations.  From that, Antonio’s favourite is named after himself: the Totó features mozzarella, Italian sausage, provolone cheese, fresh basil and what seems to be something of a signature here – yellow tomatoes.

Since the above was meaty, my companion and I share another of his recommended favourites: the Stracciatella (£11.50).  This plate was something of a pizza epiphany and you’ll understand why when you hear about it’s ingredients: mozzarella, stracciata cheese (which is the creamy bit of burrata – the best), sundried tomatoes, almond flakes and fresh basil.  This pizza bianco was a sheer joy.  Whilst the almonds were difficult to detect, the very idea of a subtle flaked nut adds a delicate finish to an already luxurious pizza.  The creamy burrata was seductive and the sundried tomatoes added a touch of saltiness and a nod towards a vegetable without going the whole way.  This pizza certainly earns its “gourmet” descriptor.

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We also shared a classic Bufalina (£10), with mushrooms.  Whilst perfectly satisfying, especially the sweet and moreish tomato sauce, the mozzarella cheese paled in comparison to the stracciata cheese of the pizza bianco.  Nevertheless, I always like to mix and match pizzas: variety is the spice of life, after all.

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Alongside the pizzas, we also shared a Classic Salad (£3.50), a generous bowl of green leaves, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, olives and a DIY dressing.  The balsamic vinegar of this dressing was equally top notch and made for a very good dip to the pizza crusts – never to be discarded, obviously!

For afters, sadly (but unsurprisingly) they’d run out of their Torte Caprese, the classic Italian dark chocolate and almond cake.  But opting for something equally Italian, my companion enjoyed a Passion Fruit & Mango Panna Cotta.  Creamy, not overly sweet, and zingy, this little number, served in a charming little coupette, was the ideal palette cleanser.

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Leaving Pizza Pellone this evening, I felt very lucky to live off Lavender Hill.  This understated hill, which sits between Clapham Junction and Battersea, is becoming something of an international metropolis for food, where you’ll find everything from Thai and Vietnamese restaurants, to Italian and Persian.  But for me, its pizzerias will always be a favourite and specifically, Pizzeria Pellone.

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Pizza Pellone, 42 Lavender Hill, London SW11 5RL

Website: http://pizzeriapellone.co.uk/

Rating: ****

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