Posts Tagged ‘best pizza in London’
Whilst doing a little research into the history of Clapham I was a little taken aback by the following description from Wikipedia:
“Clapham has numerous public houses and several small shops; including a post office, Chinese and Indian takeaways, fish and chips, a florist, a hairdresser; also it has two churches. It has its own lower school for children aged 4–9, Ursula Taylor Lower School. In the nearby village of Oakley is Lincroft Middle School for children aged 9–13. It has three pubs, the Horse and Groom, the Fox and Hounds and the Star, as well as these there is also a club called "Clapham Club". There is also an Italian restaurant, Bellini’s.”
A post office? A florist? Two churches and one school?
And just one Italian restaurant?
It took a few moments for the penny to drop. Wiki is in fact describing another Clapham, this one in rural Bedfordshire. It would appear to be most famous for hosting the airfield from which the legendary band leader Glenn Miller took off on his last fateful flight, never to return.
Our Clapham, by contrast, doesn’t have an airfield to call its own, although it is a reasonable travelling distance from Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Luton. It has lots and lots of shops – florists, post offices, hairdressers – and churches and other places of worship of all denominations and faiths. It has many schools, and more pubs than even Oliver Reed in his prime could have visited in an evening.
And as for Italian restaurants, although it is not the only one in town Eco Restaurant’s faithful band of regular visitors will tell you that it is the best restaurant in Clapham, indeed many swear that our fine team of staff serve what is in actual fact the best pizza in London.
It may be a bit of a hike from Bedfordshire, but we have the busiest train station in Europe so if any of our Clapham brethren should feel the call of pizza and Bellini’s is closed there will always be a warm welcome for them at the Common.
I was perplexed when my little niece told me, so adamantly, that she wanted to go to Italy. Not France, not Spain, not Germany – nor even America to visit Disneyland, Australia to view the Opera House or the Middle East to seek the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Definitely Italy.
It was unusual for a four-year-old to be so definite and assertive about these things. Curiosity inspired me to ask why.
The attraction was, apparently, because there was a tower there. Not any ordinary tower, furthermore, but one that is made of pizza. It was a leaning tower. The Leaning Tower of Pizza.
Her eagerness to experience the delights of this unique architectural delicacy persuaded me to find out more. I had not, after all, ever been to Italy, and had never experienced the unlikely pleasure of a sightseeing trip to a 183-foot margherita.
She was wrong about the tower, of course, but the Leaning Tower of Pisa nonetheless has a fascinating history. Not least the fact that it actually took 177 years to build, plenty of time in other words to have commissioned a full survey into the condition of the subsoil and the required depth of the foundations.
Despite its height the tower has a foundation of a mere three feet. To compensate for its tilt, which clearly manifested itself before the build was even completed, the upper floors were built with one side taller than the other. And then, in 1282, construction was interrupted by a battle in which the native Pisans were defeated by the Genoans.
The seventh floor was completed in 1319, and the bell chamber was finally added in 1372. The final design managed to harmonise the Gothic appearance of the bell chamber with the Romanesque style of the building itself. There are seven bells in all, each representing a note on the musical scale.
The Eco Restaurant Clapham, by contrast, does not lean to one side and did not take anything near 177 years to build. Nevertheless it attracts its own steady stream of visitors, although most come less to see the sights or to savour its architectural originality (much though we are rather fond of it) than to sample what many insist is the best pizza in London, with its healthy light base and fresh, healthy ingredients.
Indeed in an age of fast-food mediocrity, we believe a restaurant like ours is a tower of strength
Everybody associates pizza with Italy, notwithstanding that it is these days a joyously cosmopolitan dish, with variants of local character emanating from all around the Mediterranean, the United States and even the Far East.
Cuisine is one the things that the Italians do particularly well. Another is singing.
Think of an Italian belting out a song and the chances are the image will be one of a portly tenor, impeccably attired and motionless other than much expression with the hands as he puts everything he has into perfecting his art. The esperto, calmly reassured in his mastery of the notes.
Yet in popular music too, despite it being a largely English-speaking medium, artists of Italian descent are surprisingly commonplace, particularly for some reason amongst female solo singers. Not for nothing has the Italian word diva found its way from the opera into the world of pop.
One of the biggest female solo artists of recent decades, indeed one of the biggest names in pop itself regardless of genre, is of course Madonna. Madonna Louise Ciccone, to use her full name, is an Italian American from Bay City, Michigan. Madonna’s athletic dance routines, the way she dressed, her use of Catholic imagery (sometimes provocatively), her memorable songs and original voice all combined to make her one of the most successful artists of the 1980s. She even managed to persuade the drinks giant Pepsi to pay her five million dollars not to make a commercial for them, which is good business in anybody’s book.
Another sultry diva who emerged in Madonna’s wake was Gwen Stefani, originally Gwen Renée Stefani – another Italian American, this time from California – who was lead singer of the successful band No Doubt before launching herself as a solo artist for several years, then rejoining her old group. Like Madonna she was revered for her platinum blonde hair and good looks, which led her to be awarded the part of Jean Harlow in the 2004 biopic The Aviator.
Today’s blonde bombshell is the enigmatic Lady Gaga and yes, you’ve guessed it, she is of course an Italian American who was born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. Lady Gaga’s success lies in her innovative stage performances sometimes bordering on the bizarre. Her consistently changing image borrows a great deal from the artistic philosophy of David Bowie, whom she acknowledges as an influence, whilst her daring and at times gory stage act has more than a hint of Alice Cooper about it.
Which takes the author back to his own childhood, back to the dawn of time, when long before the peroxide dance routines of Madonna, Stefani and Gaga there was a little lass dressed all in leather and plucking at a bass guitar almost as big as herself. Those of a certain age will remember Suzi Quatro, a surname shortened from Quattrocchi by her paternal grandfather. A pocket battleship if ever there was one.
But if pizza could sing, there is a good chance it would be called Eco. And we challenge you to shorten that.