East Pizzas is down in Leith, not too far from the shore, with a good calibre of neighbours with The Kitchin and Chophouse nearby. It was a bit of a pilgrimage from where we stay but the long walk to Leith was softened by some stops at a few of our favourite bars - shout out to The Black Fox, Lioness of Leith and Miss Woos. The restaurant was quiet when we arrived but this suited us perfectly as we got to sit in the bright and open booth in the window. The decor is super minimal, a dichotomy of deep blue and off-white. There’s no pronounced aesthetic or gimmick here, and we hoped this was telling us the focus is on the quality of the food. By the open kitchen there’s a large chalkboard hanging, proudly boasting over a dozen local suppliers, and we began to expect good things!
With the menu in front of us, its clear that the pizzas are not only the star of the show, but this is a one man band - don’t bring your chicken wing fiend pals here. At every place, we’ll go for a Margherita - it’s a good way to make comparisons between different restaurants. East Pizzas closest offering (£6.75) only just strayed from the classic Margherita composition, swapping out basil for oregano - which we have since found out grows at The Secret Herb Garden just on the outskirts of Edinburgh - that’s really fucking cool.
For our second pizza we were instantly drawn to the white base offerings (that’s a pizza with no tomato). We’d fallen in love with white base at Best Pizza in Williamsburg, NYC where they’d married sesame seeds and caramelised onion effortlessly. East have a couple of white base options but the kale pesto, Lanark blue, mozzarella and Isle of Mull cheddar instantly jumped out at us. Yeah, call us hipsters, we don’t care. We have a pizza blog FFS.
Theres a small option for sauces and starters, it’s perhaps a little uninspired but we went with a couple of classic options - olives and a garlic aioli dip for sexy crust dip action. I’ll just address these here - they were both a bit lacklustre… the aioli was thin and lacked the advertised garlic flavour and the olives were not dissimilar to ones you’d get in a tin at any supermarket. Neither of this things would come to matter though if the pizza was great (spoiler: it was).
To drink we got a bottle of the house red - an organic Spanish Tempranillo clocking in at £18. It was exactly what you want from a house wine - easy-drinking, with nicely balanced tannins, a perfect side act to the main attraction.
The pizzas are 10 inch, with a sour dough crust and ours were baked exceptionally. The crust and base were flecked with beautiful pocks of char, really adding depth to each bite. There was this precise balancing act between crispiness and chewiness that we hadn’t seen in a pie in a long time.
The tomato base tasted fresh and bright and was a total highlight too, alongside a really good quality mozzarella that oozed with creamy richness. On our white base the kale pesto, Lanark blue and Isle of Mull cheddar were a perfect triple threat as the earthy pesto was pierced by both the weighty kick of Lanark blue and the sharpness of the cheddar. The pie was crowned with crunchy kale pieces, adding a great textural contrast.
For us, locality equals quality. Italian cooking has long been seen as the use of Italian ingredients, however more recent thought suggests that Italian cooking is characterised by using local, fresh ingredients no matter where a restaurant is. East Pizzas is the epitome of this rationale.
Yes, yes, yes. we loved East Pizzas: the service was excellent, the room fresh and welcoming, and the pizza is sensational (not too mention a total bill under £40 with a bottle of wine is great value).
If i wanna be super, super critical i’d love if they offered espresso rather than filter coffee.. because after half a bottle of wine (and a good few drinks before dinner) a big cup of joe just didn’t sound too appealing.
Take a date to east pizza and you’ll look like a clever clogs for knowing somewhere off the beaten track, where you can order organic wine and eat fancily topped pizza and look like a total boss.. the best part? it tastes amazing.