True Blue, Baby I Love You | Pizza 1889, Nugent Shopping Park, Cray Avenue, Orpington BR5 3RP
Today we made a short journey over to Orpington in Kent in search of a tile clearance centre. Definitely not my preferred way to spend a Saturday, and possibly the dullest start to a blog post ever. But on pulling into the Nugent shopping park afterwards in search of food, we stumbled upon the most incredible sight ever. There in the middle of the car park was a pastel blue coloured ship container with the words ‘Pizza 1889‘ on it. I honestly thought I was seeing things, it looked far too cool to be plonked in a retail park, you don’t get things like this around here. The thought that we could have not spotted this beauty until we’d come out of Nando’s doesn’t bear thinking about. And had we gone tile shopping a few weeks earlier we would have never have found this little blue beauty – Pizza 1889 has only been open for three weeks.
For those that don’t know, although we are spoilt for choice during the week working in London, at the weekend these choices are wrenched away from us leaving either a greasy spoon, takeaways, or Bluewater if we can be bothered. After an agonising wait of parking the car and upon closer inspection this little restaurant became even more exciting. We stood under the awning looking at a list of very temping Neapolitan pizzas, a brand new six-foot stone oven, smiling staff, cool decor with reclaimed scaffolding used as wooden panelling. We couldn’t believe our luck.
We caught up with co-owner Daniel Southwell, a former banker who took time out in Australia and retrained as a chef, who with Richard Sweet (he until recently owned The Waterfront in Streatham specialising in pizzas) ‘wanted to create something that was unique and theatrical but, at its heart, was a celebration of food.’ Richard added ‘We have fantastic chefs, who are as equally passionate about their craft as we are. We are very proud of them.’
Everything, where possible, is made on site. The dough is mixed and kneaded and proved in the container as is the tomato sauce. The meats are sliced within the steel walls of the container and even the red peppers are roasted in their oven which can reach temperatures up to 500c.
There’s a little counter area to perch and eat so we grabbed a spot and just watched the chefs in awe and excitement lapping up the atmosphere and the music (100 Chilled Classics, thanks Shazam.) The passionate and enthusiastic manager Alex Guga has been a pizza chef for twelve years, whilst chef Michaele Lucc has been bought over from Italy where he came second in the World Pizza-making Championships in Rimini last year. Wow. In my giddiness and with the sun beaming down, I reckon if I squinted I could almost pretend we were in the Farmer’s Market in LA. OK, maybe that’s pushing it but you get the point.
Our pizzas came sharpish and were incredible and authentic, arriving on a cute branded paddle and of a good size. Ade had a No4 – tomato, mozzarella, ham and wild mushroom £8.50 the only niggle was the slight lack of ham but we were too beside ourselves to care. My No5 – tomato, mozzarella, spicy Italian sausage (Spianata Piccante from Calabria) and chilli £8.50 was perfect – generous toppings and beautiful robust salty meat. To my relief no noses turned up at my request for no cheese, I was even offered a replacement topping for which red pepper was recommended, another gold star.
The majority of customers were being less greedy than us and opting for the lighter pizzetta to take away. We were too hungry and happy to go small, we had ice cream too. The artisan gelato list was calling my name, I had Blood orange and Ade Salted caramel both £1.50. We asked the guys where it’s from to which they replied ‘it’s made in London’. It’s actually by Gelupo, this place just gets better. We didn’t try the coffee, but obviously* it will be good (*as everything else was – although we will go back just to check).
They must be perfectionists here, even the logo ink stamped on to our loyalty card stamp fits perfectly into the little outline. The whole way home I couldn’t stop raving about Pizza 1889, it’s the best thing I’ve experienced living around here for a long long time, apart from the discovery of a hot snack named the Potato Dog at the Esso garage on Prince’s Road – a frankfurter encased in hash brown-esque potato, incredible.
Anyway, I looked at the website for Pizza 1889 when I got in to find out more, and yes of course, it was well designed, stylish and easy to navigate. I found videos of the owners, the chefs and a professionally made time-lapse video of the creation of the ship container, which ends with it being delivered mysteriously cloaked in white to the retail park atop a lorry by night. I am not ashamed to admit I found this emotional.
With all the blogger backlash** dullness lately we’ve been feeling a little downtrodden and our passion and drive was on the verge of being quashed. The discovery of a little independent pizzeria in a retail park thrilled us so much I couldn’t wait to get back home to write it up. Now THIS is why we write our blog. Thank you Pizza 1889, I’d come back tonight if Ade would let me. What an incredible and innovative enterprise, they can just up and move whenever they like, please come a few miles out and help liven up the sorry town that is Dartford, it really needs you.
**By the way, we paid for our meal, but would have said all of this regardless.
Open every day from 11.30am to 9pm.
Delivery from 5.30pm call Alex or Michele on 07763343807 or 07519654674
Nearest station: St Mary Cray
And do you want to know why it’s called Pizza 1889? Well 1889 was the year that Princess Margherita visited Naples, no-one, not even the renowned Neopolitan chef Raffaele Esposito, could have predicted the impact of the dish that he prepared for her. A soft, floury dough base covered in a rich tomato sauce, topped with mozzarella and baked in a stone oven finished with a garnish of hand-picked fresh basil. The Princess royally approved and the pizza as we know it was born. Now you know!