Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Pies and Subs in Camberwell

Camberwell, the leafy (ish) corner of South East London that’s the birthplace of the Carrot ('I invented it in Camberwell and it's shaped like a carrot') Boris Karloff, and Florence of Machine fame, as well as being the home of the curious concrete submarine-shaped block that acts as a vent shaft for a subterranean boiler room providing heating to the adjacent housing estates.

Most of this quirky behemoth was sadly surrounded by hoardings trumpeting a ‘visionary new development’ in the ‘Oval Quarter’ (no, me neither) when we visited. Although the area is experiencing the same insidious creep of gentrification that can be seen across most of London, it looks as though this concrete curiosity is set to remain pumping out power, after the chimneys were extended by four metres each last year. Which is more than can be said for all the council residents that have been shipped out of the area to accommodate the controversial new development.

One recent addition to the area that has been much better received is Theo’s Pizzeria, a traditional wood-fired pizza restaurant just off Camberwell Church Street, offering Italianate delights such as aubergine parmagiana, cheesy garlic focaccia and potato and mozzarella croquettes to the lucky residents of SE5.

The succinct beer list runs from the standard Moretti to the local Orbit Nico kolsh lager (brewed up the road in Walworth) and Kernel Table Beer (brewed up the road in Bermondsey). Despite Stealth’s reservations about its low ABV (but that's piss-weak) we got through a couple of frosty jugs of the latter, the perfect choice for a warm mid-afternoon when there was plenty more still to be done after our lunch.

From a strong list of starters and side – the aforementioned croquettes and the pizza fritta looked particularly dreamy - we chose a little snack of Mortadella, pickled green chillies and crescentine, a kind of puffy pillow of fried dough, sprinkled with salt to nibble on waiting for our pizzas. 

Add some of their magnificent homemeade red chilli sauce, and you’ve got yourself pretty much the most perfect starter - despite the Ewing’s misgivings about having to attempt to ‘share’ with Stealth, who is still famous for taking two chocolates (one for now and one for later) every time you offer her the selection box (it always ends badly - TE).

The pizzas served at Theo’s are Neapolitan-style pies with a sourdough base; fired very quickly at very hot temperatures in their wood-fired oven that – in an ideal world - leaves them with a puffy and blistered crust and a perfectly melted middle.

Now I’m a pizza whore, and would eat almost anything involving dough and cheese, but Neapolitan pizzas are my favourite of all. They are also probably the hardest to get right, as the brief cooking time means that if the pizza isn’t fired at a hot enough temperature, or has too many toppings, you are left with a pallid, doughy crust and a soggy bottom covered in a puddle of lukewarm tomato soup.

Thankfully, they had clearly stoked their fires and my pie, the Camberwell scotch bonnet n’duja with sopressata sausage, was gooey and charred in all the right places. Topping wise this was also the perfect combo – hot sausage, oozy cheese and just the right amount of tomato, before being strewn with a handful of fresh basil that smelt like the final, glorious throes of summer as it arrived at our table.

Stealth was very happy with her scotch bonnet pie with added mushrooms (her favourite foodstuff, alongside the gala pie), while the Ewing pimped the anchovy and olive combo with some mozzarella and extra wood-fire roasted aubergine.

Pizzas start at £5.50 for a Marinara, topping out at a tenner for fancy stuff like a pizza bianca with sausage and wild broccoli - which is still approximately half the cost of a Dominos while giving you approximately twice as much pleasure, especially if you slather it in some more of their red chilli sauce.

Despite missing the summer cut-off point - owing the fact it was two days after the vernal equinox, and now officially autumn - I still couldn’t resist the pistachio ice cream which was magnificent - far better than much of the ice cream I’ve eaten in Italy and definitely in LAB G league. South London really does have a strong line up of frozen nut-based desserts at the moment, now happily joined by some great pizza - the perfect accompaniments to the eponymous carrot.

Theo's  Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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