Us Swans had a busy, busy one the weekend before last. If you follow us on twitter (@hungryswans DO IT) you will know that I RAN A HALF MARATHON (I’ll be dining out on that one – literally – for weeks). As if that wasn’t enough excitement for one weekend – and proving that between us we are not only in possession of style, wit, modesty and exceptional taste in food, but talent as well, the lovely Sister Swan performed with the Ealing Symphony Orchestra on Saturday night. This was her first bash at principal flute with the ESO (btw guys, you should totally keep her full time; she was ACE!) so Mummy and Daddy Swan came down for a couple of days and we all went to clap, whoop and cheer her on.
To fortify ourselves for all that clapping, whooping etc we went to Santa Maria pizzeria in Ealing for dinner (not Caroline, she was busy rehearsing). Santa Maria I think was a bit obscure prior to 2012 when Time Out threw them into the (west) London consciousness when it named the pizzas there the ‘best in London’. Now, I love a good pizza (who doesn’t), and in my opinion Time Out – as usual – are not far wrong. The place in teeny-tiny – and I mean REALLY tiny. Like, reasonable-sized bathroom tiny. And it is ALWAYS, ALWAYS rammed. We went at 5.30pm on a Saturday – not exactly prime time – and we could still only get a table outside. They have a no booking policy which usually infuriates me, but which I actually think is a good thing here, as I’m pretty sure if they didn’t I’d never have made it through the door.
The menu is pretty much all pizzas, with a couple of starters and salads thrown in. I had the San Mattia (truffle oil, mushroom, buffalo mozzarella with extra parma ham), Mum had the Santa Carmela (basically ham and mushroom) and Dad had the Santa Caterina (mozzarella, salami, fresh chilli). I’m going to tell you about the pizza base first, which you might think is a bit odd, but many a pizza I’ve eaten has been let down by a bad base. You could say that IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BASE (*Meghan Trainor reference high five*).
Anyhoo, the bases were delicious; thin and crispy, with poofy crusts and slightly charred from the super hot oven (and it must be HOT – our pizzas were with us about 10 minutes after we ordered them!) making for an extra tasty pizza. My pizza didn’t have tomato sauce on and I was worried that it might be a bit dry but no, no, no! Plenty of mozzarella and truffle oil = delicious pizza. I don’t want to use the word ‘moist’, but you know what I mean. Also the earthy mushroom/mozzarella/truffle combo was, in my opinion, made even BETTER with the addition of wonderfully tasty parma ham.
Mum’s pizza was basically ham and mushroom as well – but a really, really good ham and mushroom. They aren’t tight with the toppings here at all (is there anything worse?) and that pizza was like ‘shroom city! Dad’s pizza was my favourite (except mine) – the salami and chilli meant it had a really deep, spicy, meaty kick to it, though the fresh tomato sauce and the basil stopped it from being too rich.
We demolished the pizzas and washed it all down with a carafe of red. Apart from the wines on the specials menu (which only come by the bottle) Santa Maria only offer one red and one white wine but in my experience it’s always been a decent one.
I want to tell you that this is a place you should definitely make an effort to visit. Pizza East seems to be everyone’s favourite pizza place in London and in my opinion Santa Maria blows it out of the water. If you happen to find yourself in Ealing – or you’re a short journey away – then you need to go here like, tonight. Now. Sooner. HOWEVER, I can’t in good conscience advise you to make a special trip out west for a visit, simply because I know if I do they’ll have no tables and you’ll have to get a takeaway and eat it on the local park. Actually, that doesn’t sound like a half bad option…
Oh, it’s a bargain as well. I think our entire meal came to about £50.