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.
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.