Published: 10 January, 2013
by TOM MOGGACH
I LOVE the fierce opinions of Italians, especially when it comes to their food. The “authentic” pizza, and the ancient rivalry between Naples and Rome, is a particular favourite.
The last waiter I quizzed was firmly on the Neapolitan side. Here, the pizza crusts are puffed up – more soft and chewy than the crisp, ultra-thin specimens in his capital.
He physically shuddered (I’m not joking) at the thought of Roman pizza, claiming nothing could tempt him to step foot in the city.
Such passions, I suspect, are alien to the British. Here we hoover up our pizzas without paying much attention to the finer detail.
Pizza Express, Dominos…
But Rossopomodoro? Most of us have never heard of it.
This Neapolitan pizza chain, whose name translates as “Red Tomato”, is a big deal in Italy, with more than 100 outposts across the country.
There are now five branches in London including Camden.
On the night we visited, it seemed that every Italian in town was squashed into their Camden branch.
A wood-fired oven is essential for a proper pizza, and here they have a beauty – shaped like a curvy cupola and studded with golden mosaic tiles.
They fire it up to a searing 500 degrees centigrade, and cook the pizzas in 90 seconds or so, in jolting contrast to the electric ovens found in most high-street chains.
They make their dough by hand, on site, using only flour, water, yeast and salt that then rises slowly for 12-20 hours.
All the ingredients are imported from Naples.
The results are impressive.
Our Margherita, £7.95, was simple yet perfect, the famous crust lightly charred and blistered, the cheese bubbling from the fierce heat.
Apparently, the pizza’s three colours echo the Italian flag, with red tomatoes, white mozzarella and green basil leaves §– a combination first invented by Neapolitan chef Raffaele Esposito way back in 1889.
A bowl of simple spaghetti, £9.55, was also hard to fault, tossed with masses of cherry tomatoes, sourced from the ash-rich slopes of Vesuvius.
You’ll find 15 other pizzas on the menu, including a handful of gourmet combos – not a choice for the pizza purists.
The king of these is the Vitulana, £14.95, with buffalo mozzarella fondue, smoked mozzarella, Neapolitan pork sausage, sautéed field mushrooms, truffle sauce and fresh basil. We didn’t try it, but I admit to being intrigued.
“People think we’re Pizza Express, but everything comes in from Naples,” says the manager.
Rossopomodoro is definitely a cut above. Stick to the pizzas and you won’t be disappointed
10 Jamestown Road, NW1
020 7424 9900