More can get a pizza the action
ADRIAN SEAL eats at Santa Maria Pizzeria, 92-94 Waterford Road, Chelsea, SW6 2HA Tel 0207 384 2844
FROM humble beginnings in the ‘Queen of the Suburbs’ to winning awards and accolades for their food, Santa Maria has taken a giant leap forward and opened a second restaurant to tempt the good folk of Chelsea with mouth-watering pizzas.
The Santa Maria story started back in 2010 when owners Pasquale Chionchio and Angelo Ambrosio opened a small restaurant with just 25 covers in a leafy street a short stroll from Ealing town centre.
Word soon got out that the pizzas coming out of the oven were pretty good, in fact so good that the awards started to flood in and one critic even wrote that they were “the number one pizza to try before you die”.
The Ealing restaurant is now hailed as a local treasure and the owners, keen to expand their success story, last month opened a second Santa Maria, which sits on a corner of the busy King’s Road bordering Chelsea and Fulham.
It’s a big move away from their Ealing roots in every sense, the smart new location can cater for 65 diners, and has been tastefully designed to give an airy and open feel to the place and create a buzzy atmosphere.
Large picture windows at the front allow light to flood through and illuminate the eating space, which has a mix of well-spaced marble topped and wooden tables and benches sitting on smart compressed concrete flooring.
The shiny inner workings of the building and bare exposed walls stand out and a feature mural of Santa Maria proudly looks over diners, while a state-of-the-art oven consisting of handmade bricks from Sorrento sends out a warming orange glow from the open kitchen.
We kicked off with a couple of Italian beers and then tucked into flavoursome meat balls (£5.50) mixed with smoked mozzarella and served with ricotta in a rich lip smacking tangy tomato sauce.
A second starter of soft creamy smoked burrata pugliese (£5.95) did not disappoint and sat delightfully with sweet cherry tomatoes and rocket.
It also came with some crunchy breadsticks that were a revelation and left my partner Fiona declaring; “I always thought breadsticks were a waste of space but not these.”
Soon the pizzas were winging their way to the table and at first sight it was easy to see why they win so many plaudits, they just cried out “eat me.”
I went for San Giuseppe (£9.95) which delivered great rustic flavours and textures of interest as Yorkshire sausage with spicy overtones sat splendidly with smoked mozzarella and wild broccoli.
Fiona was just as impressed with her Santa Rose (£9.95) – a tomatobased sauce combining well with smoked mozzarella, salami and smoked aubergines, and the lightness of the dough with both pizzas was perfection.
We enjoyed a decent carafe of house red (500ml), which at £10.95 went down very nicely thank you with the pizzas, and the only let down was an overdressed side salad of soggy leaves and tomato.
I could not escape without trying a pud, and shared a satisfying combination of light and airy tiramisu with banana and Nutella (£4.50).
It’s easy to see why one publication voted Santa Maria’s pizzas as the best in London and now it is not only the good people of Ealing but also fellow west Londoners across in Fulham and Chelsea who can sample these truly traditional delights.
n THEY JUST CRY ‘EAT ME’: The famous pizzas at Santa Maria which began in Ealing and has now opened in Chelsea
n DELIGHTFUL: A starter of smoked burrata pugliese (left) and meatballs dish (below)