Many of us at one time or another find ourselves looking for a suitable place in which to celebrate a special occasion or simply meet up with a large group of friends or work colleagues. And if you like Italian food and pizza, well, London has more than its fair share of restaurants to choose from.
They can range from the mediocre to the pretty darn good. However, if you are looking for a really good quality upmarket pizza restaurant, then Crazy Pizza has two restaurants in London to choose from. One in Knightsbridge and the second one, which I have been to twice this year, in Marylebone, which was their very first London restaurant to open.
Both these restaurants have received a summer makeover in time for the hot weather, opening their summer terraces for all to enjoy with the backdrop of blooming bougainvillea, having taken inspiration from Italy’s wonderful flora and glamorous open-air eateries.
The flowers cover the entire Crazy Pizza’s façade and terrace, transporting us from the busy streets of Knightsbridge and Marylebone to the beautiful Mediterranean. But as we know, the British weather can be somewhat changeable, so there are throws and heaters just in case.
As well as enjoying some of the tasty yeast free pizzas, the terraces are also the perfect place on which to enjoy some of Crazy Pizza’s refreshing signature cocktails, such as the Dolce and Banana with Martini Bitter and hibiscus cordial mixed with Martini Rosso, fresh orange juice and banana liquor, or perhaps a Flor de Jamaica with Bombay Sapphire, Pimento Dram, hibiscus, flower orange oil, ginger, honey and allspice berries.
It was on the terrace at Crazy Pizza Marylebone, that a group of us got together recently on a warm summer’s evening with TV’s Wine Expert, Joe Wadsack, to celebrate Crazy Pizza’s newly redesigned wine list and try a selection of the restaurant’s excellent wines curated by Joe and paired with some delicious pizzas.
Following five years as Waitrose’s wine buyer, Joe started co-presenting his own TV show in 2001, Great Wine Walks, where he travelled to South Africa, Australia and the fine wine districts of France. He has also appeared on numerous TV shows, including Great Food Live, Saturday Kitchen and Richard and Judy, where he co-authored the Richard and Judy Wine Guide. He is also often seen on ITV’s This Morning to talk about wine and has appeared on Tom Kerridge’s Food & Drink on the BBC.
Joe has become somewhat of an expert when it comes to the art and science of pairing food with drinks and matched some superb wines with different pizzas for us to try.
We start with what turned out to be my favourite wines of the evening, a 2021 Oravera Falanghina, paired with a cheesy Pizza Parmigiana. This particular wine is made from one of three revered, princely grape varieties in Naples where the soil is volcanic, giving the grapes extra energy due to the huge ionic content. This young wine smells of apricots and pears and is not your everyday wine as you can see from the colour. It comes from the Adriatic coast side of Italy which is a very fertile region and is an aged oaky wine you would nearly always serve with cheeses.
The second wine, a 2021 Marco Felluga Pinot Grigio, is served with a delicious Pizza Salmone, topped with smoked salmon, crème fraiche, dill and freshly ground black pepper. However, this is not your typical Pinot Grigio you’d buy from Tesco’s, as it is a much more serious wine with a grape variety that actually originates from Germany’s Alsace region. This wine is made from very concentrated old vines grown on a delta, full of marine life. The depth and richness go very well with meaty fish and is usually served with swordfish and tuna and so it pairs well with the salmon pizza. It has almost as much richness as the first wine but is brighter and fresher and shows you just how good Pinot Grigio can be.
A fabulous 2015 Saint Valentin Pinot Noir is served with a Pizza Tartufo, topped with Buffalo Mozzarella, truffle paste and copious amount of black truffle shavings. This poetic wine is soft and beguiling but has very powerful flavours and is a wine that goes perfectly with cheese. A Pinot Noir is more like a movie than a picture and changes in the mouth and this particular one comes from a cooperative, from a region with perhaps 150 to 200 growers, delegating the wine making to one expert wine maker who tells them how to grow the grapes. These cooperatives exist all over France, Spain and other countries. This wine though, comes from Sud Tirol, right on the border with Austria and is one of the finest Italian wines you will taste, with an amazing colour, almost like a polished table. 2015 was a very warm year, meaning that the wine has evolved and reached maturity quite quickly. A Pinot Noir is at its best when it’s around seven years old and this one here has a smell of rose petals and baked raspberries as well as having a real mushroom and truffle twang to it, making it the perfect wine to pair with truffles. It does not come cheap though at around £100 a bottle.
Our fourth wine is a 2015 Sardinian Barrua, paired with a somewhat spicy Pizza Salami Ventriciana which actually works together surprisingly well as the spice doesn’t hang around too long. This particular wine was one of the first vintages ever made by Italy’s most famous wine makers, Giacomo Tachis, who brought French influence to Italian wine and is a legend in Italy. He is known for his delicate and sophisticated wines and is internationally renowned. This Barrua is a top wine and tastes of black figs, aged in double sized barrels and is the new super wine of Sardinia.
And finally, we wrapped up the evening with a sweet Moscato D’asti dessert wine to go with a refreshing fresh fruit salad. It’s a wine that is half as fizzy but twice as sweet by stopping the fermenting process a little earlier than normal and puts a smile on your face. It also pairs extremely well with chocolate, caramelised fruit and strawberries, and is a go-to wine with Christmas pudding as most other option are too alcoholic and strong.
As well as its summer terraces, Crazy Pizza Marylebone is also home to special Music Nights every Wednesday evening from 7:30pm, with performances by Dom Durner’s Jazz Corner, where you can enjoy a musical journey through Italy in three movements.
Dom Durner’s Jazz Corner band started 10 years ago and have played all over the UK and Europe with its two core members, Giolio Romani Malaisi and Duncan Menzies, playing a mix of americano-italiano crooner-like style music.
I should also give a mention to the popular Saturday Brunch at Crazy Pizza Marylebone with their rather crazy and entertaining Saturday bottomless bubbles brunch which makes for a perfect family outing.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man On The Ground, a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.
Photographs courtesy of Crazy Pizza and by Simon Burrell