Santa Maria Pizzeria has long been on my list of pizza joints to try – especially after making the news first for tossing out a couple of girls looking for just a salad and then again when TimeOut and Evening Standard named it the best pizza in London. Santa Maria bills itself as an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria and, with ingredients flown in from Italy, it seems to be just that. The small 16 cover spot usually commands waits of over an hour (it does offer takeaway as an option) and cultivates a cosy café atmosphere. While it ticks all the boxes for authentic pizza, is it worthy of the best pizza in London? Nope, not for me, as the low prices weren’t enough to make up for the soggy Sant’Anna. I’d prefer to pay a little extra and get a pie from Homeslice or Pizza Lupo.
Your best bet is to get your name down and then pop into the pub next door to wait. There is literally no space to wait inside the restaurant but they will take your name and number down and give you a ring later. Given that you are in Ealing, there isn’t much in the way of fancy bars (I know, I lived there for 2 years) but the pubs are friendly and cheerful with a decent range of beers on tap and usually a couple of crafts in the fridge.
So, how about this pizza?
Learn from the group who were tossed out – make sure pizza is the main item in your order or risk the owner’s wrath! Each pizza is about 10” which makes for a large meal for one and, unless your party is comprised of starving marvins, you’ll probably be fine with ordering one less pizza than in your group (ie 2 pizzas for 3 people).
The key thing to note when choosing your pizza is the type of sauce. We opted for a Sant’Anna (a tomato-sauce based pizza) and the San Daniele (a sauce-less pie drizzled with olive oil instead) and there was a marked difference in the taste and experience.
The San Daniele was generously topped with parma ham, wild rocket, and shavings of parmesan cheese on a soft pizza base which lends itself to being folded for easy eating. The bold flavours of the ingredients complemented each other although the halved cherry tomatoes seemed a bit of an odd add-on as they didn’t stay on the pizza and turned into more of a side dish.
In comparison, the Sant’Anna turned into a soggy mess of carbs and flavourless tomato sauce topped with julienned ham. Basically it was a mess to eat and any flavour from the ingredients seemed washed out. A little bit of Google searching later than night resulted in strong recommendations against takeaway for sauce based Neapolitan pizza as the thin pizza wilts quickly in the steamy conditions created by a takeaway box. It would have been nice if Santa Maria had at least warned us about the risk.
Finally, I grabbed a homemade tiramisu for dessert. It was fine, but too high in the mascarpone cheese to coffee liqueur soaked wafers ratio for my tastes but managed to stay light and airy. Not bad, but a bit pricey in comparison to the rest of the menu.
Anything to drink?
There is a full range of Italian soft drinks and beers and you can choose either red or white wine by the glass, carafe, or bottle. Beyond that, I can’t comment given we only did takeaway but I like that they stick to the Italian stuff. Santa Maria also offers a range of digestifs if you are so inclined after your meal.
Worth the dosh?
It’s a bit of a tough one. For £10.95, the San Daniele was a good value option that I’d be happy to go for again. It didn’t knock my socks off, but I’d happily have it for a takeaway dinner.
The Sant’Anna at £8.95 seemed like a good deal but for takeaway it failed miserably and I’d have been happier with a Tesco sandwich. The tiramisu at £4.25 seemed strangely expensive given the low priced menu and I wouldn’t have bothered in hindsight.
Find Santa Maria Pizzeria here
15 St Mary’s Road
London W5 5RA
020 8579 1462