Monday, 16 February 2015

Best Eats This Week: Pork Belly & Aioli, Burrata & Tomato Bruschetta (Pizza East, London)

Being right next to the gym, I had passed by Pizza East perhaps once a month and I had always thought of it as an upscale Pizza Express.  Looking in, the decor of it is your cliched warehouse look: walls laden with red bricks and purposefully cracked white tiles; exposed pipes and bare floors; rustic wooden tables and stools.  Cute, but too much of it nowadays.  Then late one evening I went in with friends and was pleasantly surprised -- nothing like Pizza Express.  The menu proved to be exciting, and despite being a pizza restaurant, it had lots of tempting side dish options.   Pizzas were in fact not ordered, and the series of small plates we had ranged from decent to impeccable -- these two dishes fell in the latter.
Pork belly, crackling and aioli 
A pork belly dish is rarely disappointing unless you go to an absolutely terrible restaurant.  It's a fantastic ingredient and as a fatty meat you just have to cook it low and slow, and most mediocre restaurants succeed at creating a nice crispy crackling.  Pork belly dishes are usually a safe bet, it's one of those things that don't need much to taste good, and if you dress it up a bit it can become something mind-blowing.

A generous starter plate at £8, this also comes as a main.  It's a big flavor dish -- the aioli is pungent with cumin and garlic; the meat is silky soft and fatty and rich with spices; the crackling crisp and crumbles in your mouth.  It's a strong, robust and simply sublime plate of food.
Tomato and burrata bruschetta
Maybe not as good as the pork belly but it's a worthy mention.  Beautiful cherry tomatoes, roasted to maximize their sweetness, are warm and generously piled on top of a crusty piece of bread.  This sat next to a delicious piece of burrata - a good quality piece of mozzarella that was creamy and luxurious and fresh.  And obviously these elements together was just an incredibly rewarding experience.

Can't say much about their other dishes - there was an underseasoned broccoli and a rather insipid plate of brussels sprouts.  Not bad, but nothing to get excited about.  The pork and the burrata though, top notch.
Square Meal


  1. did you think there was smoked paprika rubbed into the pork belly? I asked and they said no, but I think they are trying to hide their recipe from me :)

    1. Gosh i don't remember, have to go and try it again!


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