Bonjourno, Southend!

Myself and fellow Love Southend writer, Chloe, had the pleasure this week of dining at La Pizzeria for an early evening dinner. And, honestly, I will never look at a Pizza Hut or a Pizza Express the same way again…

Pizza restaurant chains are put to shame in comparison to the humble La Pizzeria in Westcliff, that prides itself on its authentic Sicilian pizzeria atmosphere and equally authentic food that resembles a traditional Italian trattoria right here on the back streets of Westcliff. Located on London Road, the family-run local business comprises Riccardo, Felice and Dino who are so obviously passionate about providing their customers an experience that you would otherwise only find in Sicily itself. With heartfelt, personal homages to Sicily adorning the walls of their newly refurbished establishment, the rustic décor lacks the sterile aesthetic that most modern pizza chain restaurants unfortunately share and, upon entering, you are warmly welcomed into the intimate restaurant setting as if you were entering their own family home.

The restaurant itself from the outside looks small and misleading, as if it could be just another pizza takeaway – the only give-away being the decked outdoor seating area for those who prefer to dine al fresco. But, if this has previously deterred you from entering La Pizzeria in the past when passing through London Road, you have been missing out on what (to my personal experience) could easily be considered as the best pizza in Westcliff and the general Southend area. All this and at extremely affordable, takeaway prices! Shocking.

So onto the food!

Side Dish: Combo Italia

La Pizzeria Side Dish

There was a full plate of mozzarella sticks, chips and sauté…
but we were so busy fighting over the mozzarella sticks, we forgot to take the Before photo.

As we had chosen where to sit, Riccardo kindly offered to take our coats and brought us two menus, telling us of the Specials that were up on the blackboard. After a browse through what was quite an extensive menu that seemed to provide for every taste, we were ready to order and was brought over a complimentary bowl of mixed olives to snack upon as we waited. But we weren’t kept waiting long before our Starter (which was actually a large side dish to share) arrived at the table: the Combo Italia. A generous portion of mixed mozzarella sticks, chips and sauté with a side of salad and the lightest, creamiest home-made garlic sauce I think I’ve ever had. That sauce was perfect. The potatoes were flawlessly crisped, and the melted mozzarella within the breadcrumb-coated mozzarella sticks had a delightfully soft, stretchy texture that was not rubbery in the slightest.

Pizza: Pizza Sicilia and Pizza Al Pollo

La Pizzeria Pizza

For my Main, I chose the Pizza Sicilia. It seemed appropriate to select a pizza dish for my main, though there were plenty of non-pizza options for those looking to explore alternative Italian cuisine. And what better pizza to sample than the Sicilian pizza? A slice of Sicily in Southend! The pizza consisted of garlic, capers, olives, anchovies, mozzarella cheese and oregano. The black olives were deliciously juicy, and the anchovies were not excessively salty as they tend to be with cheap pizzas; each one a pleasant surprise with every other bite. And a dough that was just indescribable; incomparable to your typical takeaway pizza dough. Thin and crisp, yet delicate with a slight chewiness. With just the right amount of melted mozzarella that didn’t overwhelm the combination of flavours.

Chloe on her Pizza Al Pollo:

“For my main course I chose the Pizza al Pollo, which after our starter, proved to be nothing less than I expected. Beautifully decorated with tender, fresh chicken and kindly sprinkled with black pepper, this dish gave me an insight into the true taste of Sicily. The flour dusted base perfectly complemented the tangy tomato purée sauce, which was of course topped with a generous amount of cheese. With each bite, the cheese melted into the taste buds of my tongue, leaving an itching desire for the next bite. I have never tasted pizza quite so fresh as this before. I can honestly say that it was a dining experience to remember, one which I wouldn’t think twice on repeating.”

Unsurprisingly, neither Chloe nor I could finish our pizzas… but, without even having to embarrass ourselves by asking, we were asked whether we would like to box up the remainder to take home. To which we replied, “Yes please!!”.

Dessert: Profiteroles

La Pizzeria Dessert

Even though we couldn’t finish our pizzas, of course we couldn’t leave until we had some dessert… We chose the profiteroles to share and they did not disappoint. Luxuriously chocolatey, but not too heavy after our pizza feast. Nothing short of exquisite, and it went very well with my latte macchiato.

And then all that washed down with a traditionally Southern Italian shot of Limoncello. The perfect after-dinner refresher to cleanse the tastebuds, and leave you with a smile on your face as you start to think about getting up from the table.

Best Pizza in Westcliff?

Well, I’m convinced. But see for yourself! All of the fresh ingredients are locally sourced, supporting the local businesses, which comes as no surprise considering the great sense of community we observed as we ate. Regular customers came in to say hello to the owners, and we could see that they were most definitely well known within their local community. Having been established there for four years, La Pizzeria has undergone an inspiring transition from an Italian takeaway to the authentic Sicilian restaurant it is today, and I would recommend anyone to experience dining there for themselves. Though they also still deliver, do takeaways, and are listed on Just Eat.

La Pizzeria, 640 London Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, SS0 9HW
01702 341456