321 Leith Walk,
321 Leith Walk,
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0131 555 5564
I will not bore you with the pizza chronicles: of how pizza dough is handmade in my house, by Mr Ham-fisted, most every week. How my kids will always loyally swear it's the best they've ever tasted, Dad, though we all know it's not really. Or of making pizza in Collemacchia, Italy, in the wood-fired oven and in the taverna, now owned by my sister, where the pizzas are thin like water biscuits and crisp and never drowned in toppings. Or of judging the world pizza championships in Las Vegas.
I ate, the Italians won, of course.
I won't mention tasting what is reputed to be the world's best at L'antica Pizzeria da Michele on Via Cesare Sersale in Napoli where they only do two types and both of them seemed, ahem, slightly burnt. Or the Swedish sourdough pizza and the French wood-fired pizza already eaten in Scotland this year. More on the latter later - aka another day. Or even my mum's pizzas in that unique coal fired oven that turned literally white hot in The Lodge in Oban back in the day which were, honest injun, the best. Ever.
Let's just say we like pizza. Enough to have driven all the way through to Edinburgh from Glasgow tonight for some - pulled from, and what else, a wood fired oven. The wood is for the heat by the way, not as some mistakenly believe for flavour.
Anyway, this oven lingers not far from the front door of la taverna throwing out golden warmth and joy as we squeeze by it and see three chefs slapping and shaping pizzas. Atmospheric? Si. Even though La Favorita seems a rabbit warren of tables at different levels and styles from different eras with customers tucked cosily into corners here, there and everywhere. It hustles and it bustles.
Italian accented waiters manage to head by in one direction whilst talking in another and at the same time eye-ball checking that everything is OK with us in a third direction. It is. Now, a brief word on the menu of Edinburgh old school Italian restaurants of which this seems to be one. Apart from the usual suspects there are chips with truffle - we tried them and they're nothing special; arancini riso - rice balls stuffed with melting cheese but rolled huge and cooked so hard they have cracked unattractively which doesn't actually spoil the flavour as much as the looks, and an antipasto served on a board in such heaped quantities - fritatta, courgettes, mozzarella, prosciutto, chickpeas dip, pecorino, taleggio, yadayada - that three times I check the menu to find out how much this is going to sting us. It's £13, Debs says again, and the waitress, overhearing this, reveals that because we booked on the internet tonight in January everything on the menu is half price. Now that's aggressive pricing, with the knock-on effect that it makes the pizzas we ordered around £5 each. They are certainly large and bubbled attractively on the edges - incidentally I don't agree with this but while in Vegas I was advised that a perfect pizza should have no air bubbles - and are very thin.
Like in any decent pizzeria in Italy there are plenty of pizze bianche - or without sauce versions - to choose from.
The crudo e fichi comes with parma ham, fresh figs, and stracchino. The cinque formaggi with taleggio, pecorino, emmental, mozzarella, Gorgonzola and tomato sugo.
Are these the best pizzas in Scotland? Is this - as the website suggests they are trying to be - the best pizzeria in Britain? I dunno about either of the above but they are certainly very good, thin pizzas with perfectly fired and almost crisp bases. Decent flavour from the dough too.
If, as happened with both of them, the centres become a gooey mess long before we've got anywhere near to finishing them then that's probably more to do with the wetness of the toppings than any fault with the process.
Worth the trip from Glasgow then? Uh-huh.
Slick, old school Italian style with a few twists including arancini, polenta and truffle chips and that o-then-tic wood fired pizza oven. 3/5
Fun, bright and bustling. The booths are roomy, but they do squeeze a lot of people comfortably into a small space. 4/5
Fast and furious and none the worse for it. They deal with large volumes here and it shows with at least three staff handling our table. 3/5
Not hugely expensive in the first place given the pizza sizes but aggressive discounting saw 50% off in January by booking online. 5/5
Wood-fired pizzas are their party trick and worth the visit while the antipasto is huge and looks great. The rest is simply that - the rest. 6/10