Sacro Cuore

45 Chamberlayne Road , London, England, NW10 3NB, United Kingdom

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This is the sister restaurant of Santa Maria in Ealing, which opened in the summer of 2012. Like Santa Maria, at Sacro Cuore (“Sacred Heart”) no reservations are taken. This restaurant is dedicated to authentic Neapolitan pizza (by contrast pizzas in Roman style are thin and crispy), with a wood-fired oven reaching 465C, allowing pizzas to be cooked in well under a minute. Pizzas originated in Naples in the 18th Century as food for the poor, and the locals even have a society, "The True Neapolitan Pizza Association" which sets down rules for what constitutes authentic pizza: for example, the oven must be wood-fired, the pizza cooked for less than 90 seconds, the flour must be "OO", cheese must be buffalo milk mozzarella, etc. One characteristic of the Naples style pizza is that its texture is soft and pliable (in the words of the society "soft, elastic and bendable"), rather than crisp. In the strict defintion of this society, only two pizzas count: "Napoletana" and "Margherita". Clearly, few pizzas outside of Naples are likely to meet these precise criteria, but here is an establishment where they claim to follow the rules 100%.       

The Sacro Cuore room is simple, with a wooden floor and bare tables that are tightly packed. There are a few starters, and we tried a pleasant and generously proportioned garlic focaccia (£3.95), flavoured with oregano and cooked briefly in the oven. The point of this place, though, is the pizza, and this did not disappoint. The dough for the base is allowed to rest for 24 hours, and is flexible though not quite as soft as some others (such as the sourdough base used at Franco Manca). Pizza fanatics are, like all fanatics, not to be argued with, so some will prefer a base a little softer, some a little crisper. To my taste, the base was excellent. Toppings were reasonable, but here I think there is room for some improvement e.g. the olives used here seemed to me less good than the Franco Manca ones. However, to be comparing this with another top London pizzeria is quibbling – this is undeniably excellent pizza, some of the very best in London. It tasted to me of the same standard as at Santa Maria, and considerably better than most pizzas I have eaten in Italy. We tried two pizzas, the diavola (£8.95) and capricciosa (£9.95), which are very fair prices when you consider these cost no more than many dismal high street chains (13/20).

Certainly the quality of the side salad was ordinary, with tomatoes that had nominal taste, decent leaves and a little dressing; pleasant, but no more (12/20 salad). For dessert, tiramisu is made from scratch, and had reasonable coffee flavour, though the texture was less attractive than ones I have eaten at high quality restaurants in Italy, being insufficiently moist; still, this was very pleasant (13/20). Ice creams are bought in (from Oddono in South Kensington) so I will not score these. Of the ones I tried, the vanilla was the poorest, with not much in the way of vanilla flavour, but chocolate ice cream was good and the pistachio ice cream was the best of all, having excellent depth of flavour. Coffee was pleasant rather than anything more.

Service was friendly and capable (and here Sacro Cuore wins hands down over Franco Manca in my experience). The bill, with beer to drink, came to £24 a head. This is fair value for what is very fine pizza indeed. No wonder there was already a queue forming early on a Tuesday evening, just a week after the restaurant had opened.

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  • alan fowle

    on a recent visit to our Hampstead flat and having seen Sacre was only 3.8 miles distance off I went, wondering whether a pizza could be worth the diversion . Nice looking place , small obviously, friendly greeting, had a glass of white wine (origin not given -but ok ), bruschetta which didnt have a nice taste , strangely then a margherita,, perhaps I should have gone for something more complicated-it was ok only. I am still looking for the sort of pizza I had at the Spendido in Portofino, foolishly I did not re - read Andys review which clearly states the base is soft whereas the Splendido one was crisp-my preference. Still in search of replicating that magical taste

  • dimitri

    Great food and value, we got a burrata, a parmigiana, I got a bufalina (margarita + buffalo mozzarella) and finally oddono icecream. everything very very good

  • Adam Ross

    Hi Andy, Great to meet you at Sacro Cuore last week. Can I recommend Saporitalia just down the road in Ladbroke Grove? I thought it had the edge on the Margherita (superior base), though preferred the Diavola at Sacro Cuore to Saporitalia's equivalent (superior toppings). Be interested to hear your thoughts at any rate. Adam