428 Uxbridge Road, London W12 0NR
Summary: A great little pizza place, offering Napoli wood-fired pizzas at very reasonable prices.
Value for money: 9/10
Other points to note: the lamb and chicken is verbally confirmed by the restaurant as halal.
One ball of burrata, and I was hooked. And I hadn’t even eaten it yet. I had just seen it in a photo, nestled on top of a pizza, and I knew I had to try this place.
Recently opened, Little Napoli is doing what many others seem to be doing: offering authentic Napoli sourdough pizzas cooked in a wood-fired oven. But not all pizzas are equal, as we know, and I was a little sceptical how good a small little independent place in the outer reaches of Shepherd’s Bush could be. Nonetheless, I was rooting for it, not least because I could easily park for free after 5pm.
I arrived, hungry – with my brother, although I have dined here alone as well, and it is perfectly solo-friendly. It’s a small place but we were seated easily. The interior is quite clean and uncluttered, with long benches for group and communal dining, and several smaller tables for couples and trios. I ordered the Fresella and Burrata (£7.95) for starters: a ring of freshly baked dough, topped with rocket, cherry tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and basil, with a whole ball of burrata Pugliese plopped on top. It’s designed to share, and for 2-3 people it’s perfect. It’s the most expensive out of a reasonably-priced menu: the garlic bread was £2.95, bruschetta £3.95, and there’s more. It was brilliant: the dough light and fluffy, the herbs and tomatoes providing freshness, but the star was the chewy, stringy, tangy burrata, which pulled away onto my fork leaving delightful strings. I could have eaten the whole thing, but I generously shared it with my brother.
I ordered the Bufalina for mains – I think the standard margherita (using fior di Latte) or the margherita using DOP bufala mozzarella are the best yardsticks for assessing how good the pizza is. It was a bargain at £7.95 – most places charge upward of £10 for DOP bufala mozzarella pizza – and was very nice. Not exceptional, but very nice. It could be because I was a little full from the starter, but I wasn’t bowled over by it. The pizzas start at £4.50 for the marinara, or £6.00 if you want the regular margherita, so this is a well priced menu. What I did like was the base had the right balance of crisp – no sogginess in the middle of the pizza – and chewy, with those delicious crusts to look forward to at the end of the slice (I’m a crust fan). This, for me, is what sets it apart from Franco Manca, plus they have a greater variety of vegetarian and other pizzas.
My brother ordered the Polpette di Carne – Italian meatballs and tomato sauce with fior di Latte mozzarella and parmesan cheese served with fresh baked dough sticks (note: the restaurant confirmed all lamb and chicken is halal). It was OK but nothing special – if you’re going to come here, come here for the pizza, it’s what they do best.
I liked the pizza enough to come back for another visit, this time late at night, and ordered the Burratina – topped with roasted aubergine, rocket and a whole burrata Pugliese. This is the hero of the menu! Putting fresh burrata on a pizza is a genius idea, and although I don’t normally like fresh, uncooked cheese on my pizza, this is an exception. Again, the burrata was soft and chewy, with the cheesy goo pouring out as you cut into it, but not too gooey…it was just a great pizza, and will be my regular order when I go again. Because I will go again.
The service was fantastic: the waiter didn’t rush us, even when my brother went out to re-park the car, and he happily answered my many questions about the menu (I always do this). They have the added bonus of being open really late – 11.30pm on weeknights, and until 12.30am on Friday and Saturday – and could even stay open later if the Italian chef feels like it and there are still people coming in. Which, as I sat there at 11.30pm eating my pizza, was happening on a weeknight – until finally the chef said basta and called it a night at about midnight. That’s my kind of place.