L’Antica Pizzeria was established five years ago in Hampstead by Luca de Vita and Alessandro Betti. It is a short walk from Hampstead tube station. The Neopolitan style pizzas, mostly named after well-known Italians such as Sophia Loren, are made from Caputo flour fermented over 36 hours. The wood-fired oven hits 400C, which is quite some way below the 485C recommended by the rules of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, the body that defines in great detail the criteria for an accredited Naples style pizza.
We tried two pizzas. One was called Nerone (£10.45), which had as its toppings salami, chilli, tomato, mozzarella, parmesan and basil. The base was soft and light with some limited blistering on the outside from the heat of the oven. The crust was quite high and fluffed out, but this is a stylistic thing. Different schools of pizza in Naples take slightly different approaches, and I am reliably informed that the one at Antica is typical of the Caserta region, just north of Naples. The toppings on this pizza were reasonable if unexceptional, the salami apparently imported from Naples (13/20). The other pizza we tried was a customised version of the Amerigo Vespucci on the menu (£14.95), with tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, olives, artichokes, shaved Parmesan, basil and mushrooms. The base was fine but the button mushrooms entirely lacked flavour and I suspect were tinned, though the tomato sauce was quite good (12/20). A mixed leaf side salad (£4.45) had quite a lot of radiccio along with some rocket and cherry tomatoes, so the overall effect was dominated by the bitter leaves, which had a pleasant, simple olive oil-based dressing (12/20).
We considered trying dessert, in particular the tiramisu that is made in the kitchen, but was told that virtually all the desserts were finished except for ice cream, which they buy in. We skipped and got the bill. This came to £25 a head with a little beer to drink (£3.95 for Peroni) and still water at £2.75. Service was well-meaning but a bit of a mess. The two waiters seemed stretched to cover the room between them and were of the “who ordered what?” variety. Getting an extra beer took three attempts before a glass finally hoved into view. All in all, I quite enjoyed the pizzas at Antica Pizzeria and would return if in the area, though for me it was a notch below the very best in London, such as l’Oro di Napoli.