A long time ago… In a galaxy far, far away… I used to judge a pizza by the number of toppings it had. Wall-to-wall was my style. The more the better; bacon in every bite, feta on every slice, gooey green avocado all over the place. I’m ashamed to admit it, but at one point, I even dabbled with cheese (and hot dog) stuffed crusts. But then, one day, a concerned Italian friend set me straight. “A good pizza is a combination of delicate flavours,” he said. And ever since, I’ve shunned over-the-top, conveyor belt-style American pizzas in favour of hand-stretched, stone-baked, elegantly dressed creations with soul and charisma.
So far, my favourite “authentic” joint dishing up said soul pizzas is Pizza Pilgrims, Dean Street. But a close second – for now – is relatively new pizzeria Yard Sale Pizza in Blackstock Road, Finsbury Park (and Clapton). It’s just around the corner from me and I’m practically addicted to their margherita; tomato sauce, fior di latte mozzarella, olive oil and fresh basil. For such a stark, basic-seeming pizza, the taste is incredible. It’s all in the details.
Papa John’s may brag about “better ingredients” but they’ve got nothing on Yard Sale. For example, for their “tomato sauce,” Yard Sale use Narello authentic “Italian peeled tomatoes” – and proudly display them in their front window. And their ice cream isn’t made by Ben & Jerry, it’s homemade, Italian-style – using locally sourced natural ingredients – by Highbury based Nonna’s Gelato. The beer selection’s decent as well, with a range of Five Points and Brooklyn brews to choose from. There are wines, too, if that’s your bag.
Sometimes, when I’m feeling saucy, I up my margherita ante to a Holy Pepperoni; Cobble Lane pepperoni, regular pepperoni and spicy Nduja sausage, all scattered randomly, with love and affection, on fior di latte mozzarella and tomato sauce.
I first discovered spreadable, hot red pepper-packed Calabrian Nduja sausage at Pizza Pilgrims, and I can’t get enough of the stuff. In fact, Yard Sale’s Holy Pepperoni is a close match to Pizza Pilgrims’ Nduja pizza, and it’s difficult to say which one I like more. With Yard Sale (and Pizza Pilgrims), it’s all in the cheese, tomato and freshness. The way the pizza’s made right in front of you, in about five minutes. Speaking of which, it’s about time I took a stroll…