Mike’s

From the team behind Camberwell Arms and Frank’s Café arrives Mike’s, bringing Roman- (or London- – more on that later) -style pizza to Peckham, specifically Copeland Park.  Found in a former grain storage space, like previous tenants Forza Win they’ve kept things totally stripped-down and simple inside. Covid-proof, seating is available both inside, if you’re after that industrial-warehouse look outside, or outside on their semi-covered planted terrace.  Definitely go for the latter on a sunny day/evening.

Roman-style, the pizzas here are served by the square (or slice) on a long, wooden board with a knife for you to serve yourself and fellow diners on their plates.  Menu-wise, there are a couple of starters, sides and six or seven pizza options daily.  The pizzas themselves attract the crowds both because of the dough and it’s toppings.  On the former, the base has been slow-fermented and twice-baked, carefully and lovingly laboured over and tended to. 

Though I say these pizzas are “Roman”, at Mike’s they seem to be developing a pizza style of their own – distinct from Rome and Naples, and thankfully Chicago and NYC.  And that’s largely thanks to the toppings.  Much of the text on Mike’s website is devoted to placating those who want to argue about what should or should not be on a pizza. “At Mike’s, we’ll be making a style of pizza all of our own,” they say.  The result?   An exciting menu with luxurious-sounding, seasonal, top-quality ingredients: think tropea onions, Turkish figs, Sicilian datterini tomatoes, salted chilli… Not to forget are the accompanying “extras”: chilli oil, scotch bonnet onion mayo and n’duja marscapone were all available on our visit.

To start, we ordered a couple of salads: burrata, tomatoes, basil (£8.50) and another of gem lettuce, tropea onions, herbs and crumbs (£4.50).  Both were delightful.  The heritage tomatoes of the first were juicy sweet and coated in an EVOO of dreams that had been seasoned with plenty of salt and pepper.  The burrata was seductively creamy, a very generous serving and given more interest with a good sprinkling of a chilli flakes – without being overly spicy – and pepper. The gem lettuce, meanwhile, was another reminder that the best salads are the simplest ones.  A deceptive pile of leaves, they’d been heavily dressed in those sweet-sour tropea onions – another celebration of the best of summer ingredients.

Onto the main show, given they’re a good size, three pizza slices per person seems to be the magic number.  They should also be eaten by the (sanitised) hand – the bases have a crusty finish making them difficult to cut – and their size is just the right width to handhold.  Keeping it classic to start, I began with a marinara (£2.50).  Seasoned with plenty of oregano and topped with tomatoes, olives, garlic and just the right number of capers for that salty finish, this was a good induction to the more exciting toppings of the other slices to follow.  The Roman-style base was crispy – with blackened marks – and had bread-like, or really, ciabbata-like, quality.  Leavened to perfection, though, the pizzas here feel light: the dough had light bubbles punctuating that satisfyingly firm base.

Next up was roast datterini, almond fonduta and basil (£4).  The cherry tomatoes were juicy sweet and bursting with flavour.  Topped with a whole basil leaf, this was another reminder of the generous ethos of this place – the chefs here don’t hold back on servings. 

The star of the evenings for all diners, though, was ‘Bonita’.  With a topping of thinly sliced Cornish early potatoes, grated romana courgettes, almond fonduta and more toasted almonds for that light nutty finish, it’s a steal for £4 – especially given how much is piled onto these pizzas.  The lemon zest seasoning – which I understand that chefs have recently been working on to adapt the recipe of this slice – provided that special summer finish, lifting the whole pizza to a whole new level and adding a fresh lightness that makes this pizza feel light notwithstanding the carb-on-carb situation.  It is utterly delicious, almost cake-like and absolutely unforgettable.

Mike’s is a refreshingly fun way to eat and enjoy pizza.  Serving up your fellow diners their slices feels sociable and makes the whole meal more of a shared experience – especially if you’re ordering the same pizzas.  More importantly, Mike’s seems to be developing its own “London” style of pizza, with a Roman-style base for sure but with that seasonal, produce-led and creative approach to the toppings which are so lovingly piled onto the bases here. As well as pizza, Mike’s also serves up a weekend brunch menu featuring dishes made with pizza dough, and pastries and coffee during the day.  Though we were too full, resourcefully (and sustainably) the desert special of the day was an almond croissant filled with a scoop of gelato!  Mike’s are doing it all.  Pizza and more. All day, everyday. This is a pizzeria definitely worth having on your List. 

Mike’s, Unit 4.1 Copeland Park, 133 Copeland Rd, London SE15 3SN

Website: https://mikespeckham.co.uk/

Rating: *****

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