Review: Pizzeria Pellone, Croydon
May 31, 2016
Croydon’s overrun with all-day fast food joints – and most of it seems to end up in my hedge in various stages of digestion. But Pizzeria Pellone, on Croydon High Street, cooks up lip-smacking, belt-busting pizzas that are simply too good to waste.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with fast food, or eating out of paper in a bus shelter – but you’ve got to hand it to Naples, which raised fast food – as with tailoring, coffee drinking and vicious gang warfare – into an art form. Dean Martin never crooned about chicken wings or meat-in-a-box with good reason – a pizza done properly is a thing of beauty. So an authentic Neapolitan pizza parlour in Croydon seemed too promising a development to pass by. Its pedigree can be testified to in the passport of the owner, the grandson of an Antonio Pellone, who set up a pizzeria in Naples in 1972, which is still running, and an older sister restaurant in Herne Hill.
The whitewashed walls of this unassuming pizza parlour seem fairly typical of Naples’s pizza places; Pellone is as sparsely decorated and utilitarian-looking as the towering concrete Leon House opposite. Cans of Divella tomatoes and olive oil line the shelves and Kiss radio blares out, presumably for the staff who are keeping the wood-fired oven burning for 12 hours a day. This big, tiled dome is rather menacing – fearsomely hot, squat and big enough to cram a body into – and it’s kept safely from customers behind a jagged stone wall.
But the pizzaiolos know what they’re doing – and the pizzas arrive quickly, as you’d expect with a minute or two’s cooking time. They’re big, drooping paunchily off the plates and the dough is thick, almost cakey in parts around the base. You may or may not like this depending on your taste, but the crust is puffy and pleasingly charred.
A Napoletana was a big salty calorific kiss, the capers large and juicy, the fior di latte cheese really standout (£7.95). For the vegans in my party, a Marinara (£4.95) with extra olives and mushrooms was eaten with gusto – the waiter had to check twice that we realised it came without cheese.
On a second visit, I opted for the calzone fritto, an envelope of pizza dough stuffed with ricotta, salami and fior de latte, sealed, fried and then brushed with tomato sauce. Yes, fried pizza. It looked like a golden smile on a plate – the sort of smile your heart surgeon gives you when he tells you you’ve got away with it this time. Because I’d already started with a burrata pugliese. This was less successful – what should be a pouch of mozzarella oozing cream and curd was either too old or too cold, possibly both. Other sides are simple and tasty enough – various combinations of rocket, tomato, bread and cheese – but it’s the pizza you will come for.
And for those who really do want to throw their crusts into my hedge, they do takeaway as well.
256 High Street
Croydon CR0 1NF
020 3105 7978