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Tuesday 7 February 2017

A Slice of Pizza Heaven in London's Hoxton Square

Name: Radio Alice

Where: 16 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6NT, http://radioalicepizzeria.co.uk

Cost: Starters range from £3 for olives and almonds, burrata, black pepper and oregano (£5.50), and speck and apricots, or mortadella and pistachio (£6). Pizze are priced from £5.90 to £13. 

Wines are served by the glass, carafe, or bottle, and are from Italy, with the house red and whites both from Sicily, Libera Terra (£19). In Italy, pizza is enjoyed with beer rather than wine, and at Radio Alice there are two beers on tap (Kernel, Table Beer at £3.90 per pint, and London Beer Factory, Beyond the Pale at £4 per pint), as well as a few options in bottle or can. The cocktail menu is short but excellent value, including a Negroni at just £7. 

About: Radio Alice might seem an odd name for a pizzeria, but it derives from a pirate radio station that broadcast in the 1970s in Bologna, where brothers and owners Matteo and Salvatore Aloe were born. The brothers already have five pizzeria in Italy, and this London branch, opened in December 2016, is the result of a collaboration with Emma King, co-founder of Gail's Bakery. 

The pizzeria aims to use seasonal, organic and slow food producers from Italy and the UK, so the menu varies each month - think capers from Salina, tomatoes from Brindisi, and fiordilatte from Puglia.

Only ingredients that are improved by cooking are placed in the oven with the base - the base is cut into 8 after cooking, and the toppings are added after cooking, so that they do not overcook and retain their texture and freshness. 

The dough is made from Tipo 1 stoneground flour with wild rather than commercial yeast, and fermented for 24 hours. This long proofing makes for a light and easy to digest dough. They also make limited batches of pizze from guest grains, like spelt or durum wheat.

The restaurant has been beautifully renovated, with large windows, high ceilings, wood parquet flooring and white marble work tops. One of the brothers trained as an architect, which might explain the clean and stylish design.

What We Ate: The test of a Neapolitan-style pizzeria has got to be its Margherita pizza. The simplest on the menu but the hardest to get right, this pizza is all about the ingredients and the skills of chef. Radio Alice's version had the classic combination of fiordilatte, tomato and basil (£7), set over an airy, well-textured base.   

From the Pizze Bianche menu, we chose the Proscuitto di Parma, burrata, with orange-infused oil and fiordilatte (£13). The combination of burrata and orange may seem strange, but it is a classic in Campania, where these are two of their top products. Both the Parma ham and the burrata were added after the pizza was cooked, which  brought out the freshness and flavour of the ingredients, and gave the pizza another layer of texture.   

Next up was another Pizza Biancha, but this time with wilted cavolo nero (Italian black cabbage), provolone cheese and French mustard (£9.50).  I loved all the pizze at Radio Alice, but this was my favourite - I admired the ingenuity of the chefs in putting these ingredients together, they are not what I expect on a pizza but the combination worked brilliantly.

We were rather sated by this stage, but we had to try the desserts. Another classic Italian dish I was pleased to see on the menu was the chocolate gelato with liquorice brioche (£5.50). A lovely buttery brioche and chocolate ice cream sandwich, this was light and refreshing. 

Equally good was the Bourbon vanilla gelato, with anise biscuit (£5.50), another light and refreshing dessert with crisp and aromatic biscuits. 

What We Drank: For pizza cognoscenti, forgive me but we did not opt for beer on this occasion. Rather, we shared a bottle of Olmo, a blend of Sangiovesi and Montepulciano  from Marche (£30). This was very good, with sweet cherry flavours, and a good weight of berry fruit to balance the acidity of Sangiovesi.

Likes: Well-made, 24 hour proved pizza dough, creative and seasonal toppings, very reasonable prices in a beautifully designed venue. It's really refreshing to see a pizzeria offering proper beer as opposed to watery (dare I say Peroni?) lager. Super-knowlegeable and friendly staff, a rarity in achingly trendy Hoxton. There is so much to like about Radio Alice.

Dislikes: None

Verdict: Radio Alice has a refreshing approach to proper pizza in London. You don't need to go all the way to Naples for your slice of pizza heaven - Hoxton Square is much closer! I loved it. Very highly recommended. 

1 comment:

  1. I suggest this film about Radio Alice: http://m.imdb.com/title/tt0422621/


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