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Tuesday 5 January 2010

The Best Pizza in London - Oregano


I recently went to Oregano, one of my local Italian Pizzerias in Islington. Oregano is a small and unpretentious pizzeria, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Upper Street on Alban’s Place, and is nearly always full with shoppers and locals.

Service can be erratic but friendly - waiters are young, notably inexperienced and very likely English language students.

The decor is undistinguished with metal, uncomfortable chairs and bright lighting reminiscent of a school refectory or student union bar.

On my latest visit, Dr G, Tea (my lovely Italian friend) and I were lucky to find a table available within a few minutes of getting there.

As I can’t be bothered making pizza at home I always order it at pizzerias. I love cooking and do it frequently at home but I also believe that certain foods rarely taste as good as those made in professional kitchens, like authentic Chinese food, dim sum and pizza.

Dr G ordered a “Pizza Four Seasons” @ £8.95 (tomato, mozzarella, ham, olives, mushrooms, salami and artichokes), and was pleased to find his pizza base paper thin, and topped with a generous portion of cheese and accompanying ingredients.

Tea, as a good Italian, ordered the simplest of the pizzas – “Pizza Emilia” @ £8.45 (tomato, mozzarella, parma ham and rocket). She was pleased with her choice although the toppings were not nearly as abundant, and the pizzaiolo (the pizza chef) substituted basil for rocket.

The “Pizza Amici” @ £8.95 (tomato, buffalo mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, parma ham and rocket) was also quite good. The base was indeed very thin, and I also felt that toppings were of an acceptable quality.

Since my visit to Pizza East last year (click for review), I started to enjoy a more substantial and chewy base, and the slight charring of the outside crust of my pizzas. I still enjoy having a thin base but this no longer holds such an attraction for me as it used to.

It is funny how some people get so obsessed about thin base pizzas, forgetting that the quality of toppings is just as important. There is nothing more vile in a pizza than tomato sauce which is not made on the premises (commercial tomato sauce tastes so terribly artificial), or worse, tinned tuna which smells just like cat food. Luckily, none of our pizzas suffered from these common faults.

The wine list was short and surprisingly expensive for what was on offer – house wines started @ £13.50 per bottle with the next choices on the list jumping up to £16.90 (white) and £17.90 (red). Considering that many people would not order the house wine, I felt that the next available choices were a tad expensive.


The pizzas were about £2-£3 dearer than main competitors (La Porchetta or Stringray) but slightly cheaper than Pizza East where you would be expected to pay around £10 to £12 for a pizza.

Verdict – Good quality pizza, generous toppings and a thin base make Oregano a good choice pizzeria in Islington. Not as cheap as major competitors in the area but still a worthwhile option, erratic but friendly service. Given the quality and ambience of both Oregano and Pizza East, I would recommend spending the extra £2 @ Pizza East.

Pizzeria Oregano on Urbanspoon


  1. excellent review, this is so helpful as I am always at a loss when it comes to finding decent pizza in london. Someone told me about a fantastic pizza place in Lavender Hill,but I forget the name, being all senile and that these days. What a lovely photo of Tea!

  2. It's Donna Margherita Rej. Well, that's my recommendation in Lavender Hill anyway. I don't think there are any others!.

  3. @ Gastrogeek - hi darling, yep Helen is right, I think it is Donna Margherita although I have never been. I heard some good reviews about it. Tea is gorgeous and photogenic and I love taking pics of her.

    Have you tried Franco Manca? Apparently it is also very good and they have just opened another branch in Chiswick, they have another one in Brixton. I've never been but will be going there for the first time with Su-lin from Tamarind and Thyme at the end of the month and cannot wait...

    @ Helen - happy new year Helen, thanks for the recommendation for Donna Margherita, I have meant to go for sometime. I'll need to time it for next trip to that part of town. It is quite silly because i used to live in Dulwich for years and used to drive down Lavender Hill all the time.

    Luiz @ The London Foodie

  4. Hi there Luiz! Happy New Year and hope you had a fabulous celebration! Arghh...I have missed so many of your posts. I shall catch up on reading them soon. I just moved into my new house in Kuala Lumpur a few days ago and am busy cleaning and unpacking. Due to the hot weather here, the amount of dust is unbelievable and it doesn't seem to go away. I have not really started cooking yet. Lived on can food the last few days. Your reviews, as always, are excellent and well-written, and the pictures of pizzas in this review (which is one of my favorite food but not my husband's :) all look terribly mouth-watering! In between my cleaning and unpacking, am taking quick breaks to type up my 1st post for the new year. Have not completed it yet. So tired, need to rest first. I shall return here again soon. Till then, take care and have lots of good fun!

  5. Ah, but a crispy thin crust pizza can be so excellent! I fell in love with them in Rome!

  6. @ Petit Nyonya - hi, thanks for getting in touch, I was getting slightly worried I had not seen you posting for a month or so... I love your blog. Canned food? But what about the hawker food and wonderful food courts of KL? I would love to have some recommendations of those types of eateries in KL, maybe a 2010 posting for us??! Anyway, I hope you get your new home in shape and good luck in your new home. Happy New Year!!

    @ Su-lin - i know, different variations on a great theme! Looking fwd to our trip to Franco Manca later in the month...

  7. Hi Luiz, I've not done a food review post before but since you suggest, I shall try soon. Thank you for liking my blog. Really appreciate it! I must say that all your food reviews are making me miss my previous London holiday so very much. This was about 3 yrs back when I extended a work trip to Scotland with a holiday in London. Yes, as you already know, there are thousands of hawker/street stalls in Malaysia. Not all of them are good (much less hygienic) but I do have some hot favorites. My home organisation is coming together much better now, though my sink is still leaking! :(

  8. Petite Nyonya - a hawker food posting would be so good for us here - i love street food but as you say it can be disappointing if you don't know where to go or what to order. Holiday time is precious and there just isn't time to waste on bad food! I love your blog and check it whenever there is something new - as you know i love nyonya cuisine, and it's been great to learn so much from you.

    Luiz x


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