You only have to flick through the piles of take away menus that come through your front door on a weekly basis to see that tastes are more and more sophisticated, even when it comes to the traditional junk food fest territory of the Friday night take away. The game has been upped and you can now even choose which Italian region you want your pizza from, some Indian take-away menus don't even feature chicken tikka masala and you can get dim sum delivered to your door. Of course, you still get menus with yellowing pictures of huge greasy pizzas topped with rubber cheese and rubber meat, but it's hard to see how those places will survive for much longer when you could have it so much better for the same price.
I've been in essay mode up until recently, spending long weekend days in the library, coming home tired and hungry with little energy to cook. This has meant lots of quiet, relaxed Saturday nights with a take away and a couple of episodes of Mad Men. Very young fogey, but a good excuse to try out some of north London's best pizzas!
Firezza is highly rated by an Italian born and raised friend and specialises in pizzas by the yard. Their bases are thick and rustic without being too doughy, but it's all about the toppings. Plentiful, plentiful top quality hams and salamis, huge basil leafs, sweet onions. Yum. The pizzas are actually huge and we weren't able to finish ours', as much as we wanted to, but they did for a very nice lunch the next day in the lirbary.
It's a small chain and there are a scattering of branches across London. Our nearest is by Highbury and Islington tube. There's a cheaper price (£8.50 a pizza) if you pick up, so I sent the boyf out on his bike to pick ours up.
Il Bacio is another small chain of Sardinian restaurants across a small stretch of north London: N16, N5 and N4, with lots of avid fans. The restaurants serve a range of Sarindian fare: fish and seafood dishes, pizzas and pastas, while Il Bacio Express on Stoke Newington Church Street focuses mainly on pizzas. The menu, being Sardinian, diverges from the pizzeria norms, with more sea food, olives, capers, fresh herbs and Sardinia specific hams.
The pizzas were delicious, especially for the topping combinations. The slight trade off for more interesting combinations compared to Firezza was that the topping didn't seem as good quality – the olives were quite plain and the meat wasn't as clearly top notch as that on the Firezza pizza.
Finally on the pizza front, not a take away, but I enjoyed the pizza at the Hideaway bar between Tufnell Park and Archway tube. It's a great little late spot, with a great selection of beers, wines and friendly bar staff who went out of their way to meet our cocktail demands (Mad Men themed!). Their pizzas are reputed to be some of the best 'outside Foreign' according to the Observer, so we were keen to try them.
I had a chorizo and almond pizza, which was a winning combination, Spanish inspired. The chorizo was really good quality, very meaty, the peppers sweet and the almonds gave it a good rounded taste. The base was thin but not too crispy, which was a nice experience if not hugely filling. Still very nice and a great place for a local low key evening if you're in the Tufnell Park/Archway/Dartmouth Park 'hood.