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

Harefield Gazette - - LEISURE -

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)

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