I’ve been reading about Santa Maria Pizzeria for years; Italian friends have been telling me to go there for years. It’s frequently been listed as one of the best Neapolitan pizzerias in London, so I’ve been meaning to go … but in all honesty, with two great Italian-run pizzerias within easy walking distance of my house in Twickenham (Masaniello and Ruben’s Bakehouse), why would I want to get in a car and drive to Ealing, albeit only 5 miles away.
However, this evening I was by chance in Ealing. Collecting some beautiful new earrings from friend and jewellery maker Anna (click here for her website) who lives and works in Greece, but was briefly in London and staying in Ealing. I thought I’d see exactly where Santa Maria was and when I discovered it was very close to where I was heading, I thought it was an ideal opportunity to eat there after seeing Anna.
Pizza and gelato have become big things in London over recent years. For a long time the only vaguely authentic pizza you could find in UK was at Pizza Express but now truly authentic pizzerias, usually run by Italians, abound. From the Franco Manca chain to excellent independents, you don’t have to travel far – in London at least – to find a good pizza. But talk with an Italian and you’ll find the discussion about what constitutes a good pizza goes a lot deeper than with most other people. One of the things I love about Italians is their passion for and deep knowledge of food.
So how good was Santa Maria’s pizza really? Would it live up to its reputation?
It was certainly a welcoming sight when I arrived in the dying light. What really surprised me was how small it was. When somewhere has a big reputation you automatically think big in all ways. But Santa Maria is tiny! I counted just 16 seats. It’s a simple place; cafe like. In other words, just what a pizzeria should be! Fortunately, perhaps because of my timing mid week, I didn’t have to queue.
There was a good ‘Bites, Starters & Sides’ menu but it was getting late and all I wanted was a pizza and a glass of wine. A glass of house white was £4.50 and a bottle of tap water came too.
I chose a Sant’Anna pizza: Tomato sauce, mozzarella, cotto ham, artichokes, black olives, parmesan (£9.95).
When it was put before me, I was seriously impressed. And when I tasted it, it was every bit as good as I’d heard. The dough soft and slightly chewy; wonderfully tasty with a good, charred edge. The toppings were just right; authentically Italian in their simplicity and great quality. It was a very delicious pizza.
I saw on the menu they served Oddono’s ice cream – a highly praised and top gelateria in London, which has won many awards. However, it was getting late and I was quite full after my huge pizza. I settled for just an espresso – and excellent coffee it was too.
I asked to take a photo of the pizza oven as I left.
I was so pleased I’d finally made it to Santa Maria. I liked eating in the cosy, little intimate place but more importantly, the pizza really was fabulous.