Freelance writer and photographer who has contributed to UKTV, Expedia, Hotels.com and USA Today and lives in West London.
Published October 24th 2012
Santa Maria - authentic Neapolitan pizza in South Ealing
Santa Maria is set in the prosperous suburb of South Ealing, some five miles west of London's centre. Joint owners Angelo and Pasquale, both Neapolitans, thought it natural to name their restaurant Santa Maria as it's located in Saint Mary's Road. The restaurant is about a 10-minute walk from Ealing Broadway tube station (Central and District lines) and about the same distance from South Ealing (Piccadilly Line).
There's been a real buzz about this restaurant since its 2010 opening. Time Out gave it a coveted five stars, and the Financial Times named it in a piece about five of the best London pizzas.
The restaurant's interior is compact although space is somewhat expanded in fair weather by two pavement tables. Santa Maria doesn't take bookings, so prepare for the possibility of a wait. Luckily, the restaurant is cheek by jowl with one of the neighbourhood's favourite pubs, the Red Lion, a pretty Victorian hostelry where you can kill some time sampling a fine selection of real ales.
When Santa Maria says pizza, it means pizza, so don't expect a choice of pastas and other dishes. Of course you can order focaccia, bruschetta and salad, and there's the spectacularly good Oddono's Gelati for afters, but in this restaurant pizza is king.
And it's the quality of the pizzas that have earned Santa Maria a loyal and appreciative following. The dough is mixed and tossed on the premises then slipped into the wood-fired oven on a paddle. When it comes out, it's baked to a good, firm consistency, just the right chew-level, with a slight charring on the top which is the sign of a proper Neapolitan pizza. Don't forget, Naples claims to have invented the pizza in 1889. Its inventor, Raffaele Esposito, would no doubt be proud to see his great innovation living on in such style at Santa Maria.
As to the toppings, the tomato sauce is homemade and the mozzarella di bufala is guaranteed denominazione di origine controllata. All the traditional pizza variations are on offer, plus the folded-over favourite, calzone.
Take a trip to South Ealing for some of the best pizza in London and you're in for a pleasant surprise – the very reasonable prices range from £5.45 for a Santa Maria (tomato sauce, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, basil, oregano) to £10.95 for a San Daniele (mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, Parma ham, wild rocket, shaving of parmesan, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil).