Santa Maria is a tiny pizzeria in a quiet part of Ealing that opened in early 2010 by Pasquale Chionchio and Angelo Ambros. What sets it apart is the authenticity of the pizzas, prepared in a wood-fired oven by people from Naples who care about quality. They have sinced opened a sister restaurant called Sacro Cuore. The room seat just over a dozen, plus a couple of tables outside, and on the Sunday night that we visited we had to wait over half n hour for a table (there are no reservations taken, but there is a convenient pub next door in which to wait). At the back of the room is a proper wood-burning oven at 400C that will cook a pizza in 90 seconds flat.
The menu was refreshingly simple, not straying far from the core product. Wine was a simple choice of white or red. Garlic bread was £2.50 for a huge portion, itself almost the size of a pizza. This tasted distinctly of garlic and was seasoned nicely, with a little rosemary (12/20). Bruschetta had good quality tomatoes but a rather uninteresting base (11/20). A side salad had good tomatoes but ordinary dressing and leaves (11/20).
However the point of the place is the pizzas, and the two that we tried were very good indeed. The base was soft and supple, which is the mark of a proper Neapolitan pizza: the toppings pleasant, the tomatoes imported from Italy (easily 13/20). My Santa Caterina pizza, enlivened by a little green chilli, was just £6.45, less than you can pay in a high street chain for something a fraction as good as this.
Ice creams were supplied by award-winning producer Oddono in South Kensington. A scoop of vanilla was ordinary, decent texture but hardly any vanilla taste but the other two were quite different. Chocolate ice cream had a rich chocolate taste and the pistachio ice cream was lovely, loaded with pistachio flavour; these were serious ice creams, if bought-in. Service was cheery despite the pressure on the staff from the queues of people outside. The bill came to just £15 a head including drinks. While the pizza at Franco Manca has the edge for me (especially on the toppings) this is nonetheless genuinely excellent pizza, clearly one of the best in London.
Further reviews: 23rd Feb 2017