Santa Maria, Ealing

Friday, 23 April 2010 | |

On Valentine's Day of this year Ealing acquired a new patron saint; Santa Maria on the eponymous St. Mary's Road arose and ushered in a new era of culinary excellence. This pizzeria is the newest addition to a burgeoning list of gastronomic destinations in West London. But the owner's of this small eatery have designs on the whole city and for good reason: the pizza here is excellent. On my visit the display was adorned with copies of the latest edition of Time Out London which had conducted a tasting of London's best pizzas with Santa Maria heading the pile. On the pizzeria's website they say that they never had any doubt about being London's premier pizzeria but my pie did not arrive without fault. 

The pizzeria is a well-designed and petite, reflecting the intricacies in the foundations of pizza. The stylish building has few seats indoors and two tables outdoors for those warmer days. The menu is single sided (always a plus point) and the pizzas begin at £4.50 (the Santa Maria Pie/Marinara). They recently acquired an alcohol license and serve beer, limoncello and other digestifs. An interesting addition to the menu is the inclusion of Gelato from Oddono's of South Kensington which is perfect in the run up to the British Summer. 

 A single pizzaiolo shapes the pies and bakes them for 90 seconds in the wood-fired oven. The oak gives a consistent smoky taste to the pies and the blistering heat of the Neapolitan built oven makes sure each pizza is cooked for just a minute and a half.

 The finished pies come out well blistered and in only one size (12 inch pie). 
 I ordered the Santa Margherita (£5.20) - tomato, mozzarella, basil, olive oil and salt. The true test of any pizzeria is the strength of their Margherita and this scored highly on several fronts.

 The dough was soft, springy and well charred with an excellent tasting cornicione. The cheese:sauce ratio was very nearly perfect with tangy but sweet tomato giving way to creamy islands of mozzarella. The basil perfumed the pie consistently which heightened the eating experience. The olive oil and salt adding the perfect finishing touches to a very good pie.

 The much fabled 'upskirt' shot provided a better insight into the strength of the oven. The base was well charred and gave a clean smoky taste. 

 The side-on shot provided greater insight into the air pocket structure of the base and this is where the pie dropped some points. Although the base was light and springy it lacked a certain 'lift' from the air bubbles that would have afforded the pie an even greater lightness. The dough was well formed but this pie was still susceptible to sogginess in the middle.

The final bill provides another big plus in favour of this pizzeria. Pizza should be affordable and this is definitely wallet-friendly..

On a whole this pizzeria impressed me on several fronts from the friendly owners to the well constructed pies and deserves all the success it will inevitably get. The pies were a great example of the Neapolitan sltyle but being only two months in after opening issues regarding consistency and longevity cannot be answered. If this truly is the King of the London pizza scene then it has a lot of competition that will be ready to usurp it should it ever falter. For the first time ever in London we have multiple options when it comes to great pizza and we should not take that for granted. Bon ap'!


Greedy Diva said...

Oh yeah - these look really good. Thanks for the recc.

The Grubworm said...

The shots show a really handsome pizza. This is somewhere now chalked down should i find myself in the vicinity.

Bit of a side note, but do you know they're called 'pies'? It's something i've started to notice and am a little stumped by.

M. A. Salha said...

Greedy Diva - No problem but I'm sure you'll hear much more about Santa Maria from the other bloggers soon enough!

The Grubworm - Ealing is definitely up and coming. Sushi-Hiro and Kiraku are two restaurants nearby that have received rave reviews over the years. As to calling them 'pies' that was an Americanism I have adopted. A lot of literature on pizza is American so it's hard to avoid the vocabulary that comes with it.