Santa Maria

Critics' choice
Rob Greig
Santa Maria

Next door to Ealing Studios’ watering hole, the Red Lion, this pocket-sized pizzeria puts real heart into its offerings. Owners Angelo and Pasquale, finding nowhere in London to match the pizza of their upbringing, set about recreating an authentic slice of Naples in W5. Authentic, it doubtless is. Everything from the wood-fired oven to the Caputo flour and parmigiano reggiano is imported; the lightly salted dough is given a 24-hour rise; the tomatoes crushed by hand; the mozzarella cut in precise pieces that melt just-so.

It’s all done with bucket-loads of cultural pride and results in magnificent pizza, charred to loveliness with a beautifully chewy base. Within weeks of its opening back in 2010, Time Out voted Santa Maria London’s Best Pizzeria – more rewarding, says Pasquale, than Italy winning the World Cup. But controversy kicked in almost immediately, with busy, sometimes rushed, service raising eyebrows. Santa Maria calls the ‘order, eat and leave’ attitude ‘tipico napoletano’; plenty find it off-putting. The verdict? It’s tiny, rightfully popular and doesn’t take bookings. If you come for cracking pizza and a pint next door, you’re in for a treat – but don’t cross London expecting to linger all night.


Venue name: Santa Maria
Address: 15 St Mary's Road
W5 5RA
Opening hours: Meals served noon-10.30pm daily
Transport: Tube: South Ealing
Price: Main courses £5.45-£10.55

Average User Rating

3.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:24
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:6
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:16
4 people listening
Rudy M

Without a doubt the Pizza I've ever had. The best pizzeria in London! Authentic and delicious.

Michael L P

I have just got back from italy where i had a fair few pizza's and they where amazing but i have to say Santa Maria surpasses them by a mile. The sauce was lush. The place was also friendly and has a certain charm.  I will 100% be going here again. 

Pierre Ducout


Awful customer service. Clearly the review below is from one of the staff. From being TOLD where i would sit, even though there were other spaces available, and eventually getting the seats that me and my wife wanted, I was met with a waiter who decided that he would make the decision as to what we would eat. Although I ordered the mandatory pizza each, he would write a different pizza to that I ordered. My wife noticed what he had done, and we had to correct him three times, eventually with him laughing at us and stating "i didn't write that one because it doesn't have a tomato sauce". Well excuse me for my ignorance but when Ive been to restaurants before, I've always been afforded the opportunity to chose what I eat, not have it chosen for me, whats the point in a menu?.... Ok so by this point although I wanted to leave I thought lets stay and see what the hype is all about..... Nothing! I don't know whose pockets have been lined in order to get a good review by time out, but I suggest they revisit. Pizza had a metallic taste, i had no idea why until i saw the base, where I realised I was eating charcoal! Burnt pizza's, bruschetta awful, aubergine starter was good though. My wife asked for a straw for her drink... Can she have one? No! It feels more like they are doing you a favour by letting you give them money. The experience was further enriched when the waiters friends showed up and whilst waiting for their take out thought why not use this customers table as a bin to leave our half empty drinks, i appreciate their consideration, in that it was a hot day, but I can afford to buy my own. Did the waiter move them? No! Don't believe the hype! Last time I take a time out recommendation. If you want a good experience ask work mates, friends... Even people on the street for where is good. Keep searching, because you will not be pleased!

David Houston

My favourite food is definitely a great pizza. I'm very selective and treat it like a gourmet meal, so I was keen to try out Santa Maria. I went on a Tuesday night with a friend and we were sat straight away. The staff were really friendly and the waiter who took our order knew the menu and the food really well. He gave suggestions for food and drink and was just generally charming. I had the garlic focaccia with mozzarella to start with. It was with us in no time at all and was just sublime. The right amount of garlic, doughy but not undercooked, chewy but not overcooked. I would happily have eaten that all night. Then came the true test: The Pizza. I ordered the San Francesco and when it arrived it didn't disappoint. This was one of the best pizzas that I've ever eaten. No contest. The right amount of toppings and they complimented each other perfectly. I was unable to finish my pizza and not through want of trying. So dessert time came round and I opted to take home some of the home made tiramisu. I also took some of the remaining slices home with me. The next day the pizza was still absolutely incredible and the tiramisu was just perfect. I could have eaten my own bodyweight in both! Starter, two pizzas, desert and drinks came to a total of £35. It's right next door to a pub for a quick pint to finish off an amazing meal. The restaurant is well out of my way being in zone 4 and the opposite direction from central London to where I live but I will be going back there many times to come for their awesome food, friendly staff and great prices. Top work Santa Maria and long shall you serve pizza... hopefully, mostly to me!


What can I say? I'm from Naples and when I moved to London all my Neapolitan friends told me about Santa Maria, describing it as the best one in London. After one year living here I can say that, without doubt, it really is he best one!!! Not only, in my opinion it is even better of some pizzeria in Naples. Products are always fresh, all shipped from Naples. You can try the best "Mozzarella di bufala", the pizza "salsiccia e friarielli" (one of the most typical Neapolitan pizza), the "parmigiana di melanzane" All the staff is strictly from Naples, especially the pizza maker. Well, if you want to try the PIZZA, Santa Maria is your only choice. Dario


Pizza lovely but the attitude of the staff when myself and a companion requested to share a pizza with a salad and a carafe of wine was negative. Although, we persuaded them to accept the idea, it left a bad impression. After all, half a pizza is quicker to eat than a whole one each and therefore would have meant the table would have been free quicker. Need to look at the bigger picture. After all positive impressions are all important and encourage customers to recommend a restaurants to friends.


I'm going to play devils advocate as I've never been and trekking all the way from London Bridge just seems a trip too far just to eat pizza. I'd much rather wait until I go to Italy [Puglia] where I can not only eat great pizza but everything else as well. It seems to me this joint DOES do good pizza, but the service is crap. You wouldn't last five minutes in Italy with this attitude so why they should treat their English hosts like this seems alarming. It looks like they cannot handle their 'success'. In London we go gaga for anything new or different especially when it comes to the next big thing. Calm down [as the late Michael Winner would say] and grab a take away. Seems like the best option. I wonder if they deliver!

mark newland

lovely pizza, my friends and I had a nice time, a busy atmosphere, people in and out with take away meals. Then desert, with vanilla ice cream, coffee, and coffee beans, all in one bowl, a most unusual and fascinating taste. Thank you for a lovely evening, and all the best for the future of this place. Mark Newland



5 stars for the pizza, 0 stars for customer service!!! I'm sure the only reason why they're so busy it's because of the quality of the pizza. They treat customer with the attitude of "if you're not happy here, screw you, we've got a queue outside to eat". They need to understand that one day, customers will get fed up and someone else will open a place with pizzas just as good (it'd not hard to find a good italian pizza chef in London). Actually, they probably know this, they're just trying to make as much money as possible now, so when all the customers disappear they can still survive for several years. When they first open, I used to go there every week. Now, I only go when I really feel like eating pizza. If they want my money, they'll need to treat me better.


Santa Maria is my local pizzeria and it used to be my favorite place for pizza for a while already. Crust is a bit floppy and can be burned but ingredients are always best. Unfortunately last Saturday I was treated not a way loyal customer likes or any customer would like to be honest! Arrived with a friend and a baby, was informed we cant get a table for 3 people as my husband is 5minutes away and we cannot sit down order our pizza and wait for him as in that time THEY CAN GIVE THE TABLE TO SOMEONE ELSE! So we were asked to wait outside (it was hot! and we had baby with us!!!!) and wait for him till he arrives and then waiter told us they cannot accommodate a buggy anywhere so we had to order take away! I know it is small space they have but I there was no effort or politeness there so if we haven't been hungry and wanted this pizza specifically i would just leave. I will not be back to this place ever again.


Best Pizza I have ever eaten Fresh ingredients, perfectly cooked, perfect taste. Go there you wont be dissapointed. Probably the best Pizza place on the western hemisphere Puts all the chains (phut, pexpr, etc) to SHAME!! Price excellent, Service Excellent, Pizza & Food - REAL! When you eat from here you realise just how much youve been conned all your life whenever youve bought a food from the supermarkets or from most other restaurants! Fantastic


The pizza is Italian, the service is not. The waiter did not let us finish the pizza and beer and he already came to ask if we wanted to order anything else and otherwise we had to leave. This is unthinkable in Italy. It was on a Wednesday evening, we stayed less than an hour in total, sitting in a tiny table in the back. When the waiter brought the bill, he even politely insisted on getting a tip, which we did, as we imagined the poor bastard is just following orders from the owner. As we were surprised to be kicked out, we asked why. They claimed there was a waiting list and they needed the table. However, there was a free table next to us and as we walked out we saw there was another free table in the front as well, there was nobody waiting outside either. All in all, the pizza is very good, but only come here if you are in a rush.


Hooray, they don't sell diet coke. Hooray, they don't expect to have to grovel to their customers like you're a demi-god for spending a measly £8 there. They have self respect! Shocking! All the whingers should do one! Best pizza I've ever had . That 'sour' taste someone moaned about below is what Actual Cheese tastes like. If you want plastic food and plastic smiles, don't go here. Bravo Pasquale, ci vediamo.


Amazing Pizza, very small and intimate setting and bargain price. The service is speedy and faultless. I can't recommend this more! Best Pizza in London by far!


Worst pizza ever. it was sour and soggy in the middle.I don't understand the reviews and the hype; may be it used to be better but in my experience it wasn't.

Fred Mark

This place is good - not as good as Franca Manca in Chiswick but very nearly. If you like pizza and live in west london try both.


This little place makes the best pizza in London and easily better than many places in Napoli. It's a pizzeria so just have a pizza and leave the seat to other pizza lovers, otherwise stay home!! I understand because they rush on people, when they have 50 people waiting and stupid people drinking a glass of wine for 45 minutes. There is a difference between a restaurant and a pizzeria, go to Napoli and learn you ignorants! Guys keep on the good work, you are making us neapolitans proud!!


the best pizza in London. the worst customer service in London. since eating out is not only about the food, in spite of the fact that we live 5 minutes from the place, after a couple of incidents where we were asked to finish our drinks at the bar (not really a bar) and some spectacularly rude service, we haven't been back. a shame really, because the pizza is truly delicious.


Pizza's here are great but the service is awful. We are a party of four... We ordered 3 pizzas and were told their policy is one pizza per person! Really?! We left and they lost 3 pizza and 4 people's drinks orders to their stupid greedy 'policy.'


Been twice and both times have received poor service!! Pizza was alright but the middle was soggy, not many toppings so in all i did not get full up at all. Also when I ordered a bruchetta starter and they had forgotten about it until my actual meal came!! its called a starter for a reason, to start your food with!! When i left i felt like i wasted my money and basically been robbed. will not be going there again.


Certainly one of the best in London, deserves to be on top of this list. Small cozy place, very friendly italian people serving there. But pizzas such as Santa Caterina or the Calzonni are exquisite in this little place


Very disappointing, i ordered guissipe pizza, it had two main flavoring, burnt pizza base and bland cheese, coupled with long wait, poor wine and cramped seating, all in all very poor Friday night experience.


I´m a regular to this place since my children love this pizzeria. The pizza is really good but after visiting this pizzeria for at least a dozen of times(i lived just 2 minutes away... there is not many other places in ealing.. ) I´ve decided to write this critic. The Service is extremely Rude. Even if they know us quite good they treat us as they were making us a favour. Food is about good feeling and even if the pizza is good pizza I used to leave the place pist off with their attitude. So it´s not a place to recommend. These people need to understand that good food and good service goes together. We should not tolerate this arrogant atitude especially when we are customers. Hope this is a helpful critic and will make many people to think twice before visiting this place.

Tina L

I honestly do not know why this has such a high rating! I took my dad to this restaurant after a nice day out on his birthday as pizza as his favourite food in the world is good old authentic pizza. From the outside it looks like the pizza here is going to be really delicious and authentic. As soon as we entered a lady came to take our order and our conversation went like this: Can we have 2 diet cokes please -We dont do diet coke Oh okay just coke then please -We dont do coke Pepsi? -We dont do pepsi What drinks do you have? -Apple juice and Lemonade Okay can we have 2 lemonades one with ice one without -We dont do ice!!! Okay just 2 lemonades then and for pizza we'll have 2 magheritas can we have them quite thin and crispy -We dont do them thin and crispy And when the pizza came we asked for a tabasco or chilli sauce and they didnt have this either. On top of this the woman that was serving us was rude, we felt like walking out but having read such good reviews thought we would stay! I don't know why Time Out has given this place an award they seem to have more things that they don't do then they do do!! The pizza itself was soggy in the middle although the crust was cooked right and the sauce was nice too but honestly not as great as the other reviews seemed to find it! I wouldn't go back here and wouldn't recommend it either, authentic pizza better than that at Santa Maria, with better service, more choice.. and even the apparently luxurious option of having ice in your drink is available at almost any other italian restaurant!


For the second time in the row we were really disappointed. Instead of ten minutes as promised for two takeaway pizzas we had to wait for 30 min as they simply forgot about it. And both of the pizzas were in appalling condition, so salty and burnt on the sides- San Franceska and San Caterina. (hardly any toppings!) .I think it is the last time for San Maria from our side! definitely no authentic feeling!


The pizzas are decent but not quite as spectacular as some of these reviews would have you believe - I certainly wouldn't give them 5 stars. We weren't impressed the first time we went, but decided that perhaps it was an off day, given the rave reviews, and decided to give it another try. It wasn't any better than it had been the first time. The service, like the food, was OK - not special, not awful - on both occasions that we went, but the place is so cramped that people are squeezing past all the time and it's not a pleasant eating experience. Probably won't bother again, and we only live 5 minutes away.

Peter Boothby

This is my list of who do the best pizza's: No.1 Strada, No.2 Prezzo, No.3 Zizzi & Pizza Express... but on a quick meal at Santa Maria in Ealing, all these competitors were blown out of the water. I know my pizzas and have eaten them all of Italy from Rome to Ravenna. This is the real Italian pizza in London. So much so that I find it hard to eat pizza anywhere else now and I live 40 minutes away from Ealing.

Rich and Raakhee

Amazing amazing amazing, reading these reviews some people just love moaning about something. The BEST pizza in London Keep it up pasquale and angelo


Just the best pizza in London. Who says the opposite, doesn't know what pizza is about. A real neapolitan pizza lover.


No way this is the best pizza in London!!!!!! and to make it worst the service is awful!!!!


truly the best Neapolitan pizza in town, try the simple Margherita, delicious (we had 2 each!)! As a Neapolitan and pizza lover, i was invited to check all the basic ingredients: tomatoes and fiordilatte cheese are the ones you can only find in Naples and of a very very good quality. Pasquale and team are very friendly and accomodating. the service was super quick and efficient (comments below on service are non-sense, this is a small family run pizzeria, if you want super service with cotton napkins laid on your laps go to Chez Bruce). the place is small but very cozy and very clean.


Don't really understand how people can moan about the service, the place is small and seating is limited, so I for one am thankful that people who try and order one pizza between three or linger after finishing are asked to leave, frees up space for people who want to enjoy the most delicious pizza available. Sadly for me and my ability to get a table quickly, there seems to be enough people who love it and are quite happy with the service and the staff, who to my mind, have been nothing but friendly and accommodating, in all the visits I've made in the last year or so. Oh and the pizzas, excellent one and all.


Shocking, shocking service and pizza quality that has deteriorated badly since the first rave TO review. I took friends here and was embarrassed that I had recommended it. Never, ever again.


Appalling service but good food! First of all, we were told to order a minimum of 5 pizzas if we wanted to sit at the big table and while waiting for the rest of our group we were approached by the boss who said that we will not be able to order if they don't turn up in 5 min. When the food arrived the waitress didn't even provide us with enough cutlery, napkins and plates. Also, as soon as we finished we were prompted to ask for the bill and if that was not enough we were accused of stealing the tip from the tin which the waitress herself had brought empty to the table. To be honest I have never received such terrible service at a restaurant and it doesn't matter how good the food might have been I will never eat there again.


Absolutely delicious pizza. Having lived for many years in Italy I can safely say that this is the best pizza I've ever eaten. Thanks Santa Maria!


Don't need to be italian or neapolitan to consider this one, the best pizza outside Naples. I've been there since their opening, and loved it from the beginning, and consider myself lucky to live down the road from this little authentic italian gem. Dinner at SM, means going to Naples without flying there! Then if you feel offended by their rude service (which i don't rate it rude at all!), there is plenty of us, that are very happy to have shorter queues to make. Never seen this place empty, and i really doubt i will!!


The best pizza in London, can compete among the best pizza in Naples too, with no problems. And in Naples when you sit down, you have your pizza and you go, it's the way it is, it's not being rude. It doesn't shock me at all, especially when you have to serve this product to so many people in such a little place. In Naples is exactly the same: You wait, you eat, you pay, you go. I wish i'd have a Santa Maria around the corner where i live, instead of travelin 45 minutes every time; Worth every minute and every penny. Grazie ragazzi, continuate cosi e Forza Napoli


I am italian, and half of my family is of Neapolitan roots; besides I lived 15 years in Sicily, which is the 2nd best place to eat pizza in Italy; in other words, I know what pizza is, and what it should be. The one they make at SM is the best I have ever eaten abroad, along with the late "Spaccanapoli" in Dean St. Service? Basic, polite, straightforward, and very quick; do not expect smoochie-mocchies and pleaaaaseee-siiiiirrrr, wooouuuld youuuuu miiiind.... etc etc; this is a corner of Italy, get used to it; both for food taste, and manners. You don't like it? Walk to a wonderful Pub or McDonald's then. Grazie ragazzi, eccellente !!


Authentic cool little place!!! However, I have never experienced such an attitude!!! It's London and good food is simply not enough. Being a regular customer for a year, I was asked to leave when all I wanted was a heavenly tiramisu!!!I can you believe it???


For me the best pizza so far. I feel lucky I live 15 mins away. I have tried the menu - and can say best ones are: Sant' Anna, Santa Bufalina, Santa Carmela... I would say - if you are a big fan of pizza you should definitely come and try.


When i read these reviews, my conclusion is one. They are obviously written by people with hidden agendas. I could understand disappointment about service, is always a very personal experience, but when it comes to food there is no pizza that beat this, and it is quite a general opinion.the only positive side on the bad reviews is that people may be put off and don't go there, so for us will be easier to get a table and not waiting 45 minutes at least. But you will be missing one of the experienxces of your life. It feels like being back home.


I totally agree with Franco and Angry Dad, Saturday 23/04 our lunch at Santa Maria was the most uncomfortable meal in a long time. Very rude and aggressive waitress, unwelcoming, unfriendly, the music they played made you uneasy. The best part of the whole experience was the end of it. Please do not make any special trip to this restaurant, I already feel annoyed just typing these words.

A local

Not only the best pizza in London quite possibly the world. Rationale - as others have posted it is as good a pizza as you would get in Naples but what these chefs bring is invention and new combinations which rock my world week after week. The waiting staff are efficient and friendly, and also kinda cool in that Italian way which just adds to the places charm. I was in two minds about writing this review because on the one hand if you are put off by the bad reviews you won't try it out and I'll get seated more quickly, but on the other hand if you do not try this pizza you will have missed out on one of lives best experience - a great pizza is hard to beat. And in the end I am a nice person it seems, so enjoy !!!


Plenty of Italin attitude and one of the rudest waiters I've ever encountered - a request for ice in our drinks was met with a plain 'no' and while the pizza was alright (if a bit soggy) we felt rushed and insulted by the surly staff. Takeaway might be a better option.

Stefano R
0 of 1 found helpful

Best pizza in London. No way. I'm Italian I know what I'm saying. I have been living in London since a long time, I did try all the most famous "pizzerie" around London. People who complain about service or the pizza itself, doesn't know a shit about italian pizza or italian ways. I would really know on what basis you are talking about how the pizza should be made. I'm not going in a pub pretending to say how it could be managed or how the beer should be. And mainly, I don't go on TimeOut website to complain about it. Nice & Easy. If you want to have a real italian experience, with a real italian pizza, even better of most pizzerie in Italy, go to Santa Maria. If you'd like something else probably you shouldn't never go to Italy. It's not rudeness, it's eating. If you want to stay you have to eat! Otherwise what are you doing there? It's a restaurant not a club! As a plus is a small restaurant with few seats for a lot of people queueing outside (or in the pub next door). So who's the one really being rude? Come on, let's think about it. In the end, you are Britons not Italians, could be normal for you do not understand our behaviours, as I don't understand your complaints, isn't it? There are only 14 seats, if you complain about queues or waiters that doesn't allow you to bring a buggy in, maybe who's wrong (and rude) is you. Pizza Express is way bigger. You can find hairs under the ham (as I did), but who does really care if you have all the space that you need for your buggy, you can stay all the time that you want, even if the "pizzaiolo" is egyptian and the doughs are being frozen? It costs you like a Sainsbury's one, that maybe is better... ;) Go there if you like this kind of shit! There are severals around, you don't have neither to complain about the area or the long travel! That's what is suitable for you and your needs! As Italian I will always go to Santa Maria, instead of Franco Manca, Princi or others well renowned "pizzerie". Being there for hours, eating for hours, as usual. With no buggies to bring inside and no complaints to write here, simply enjoying the best pizza in London. That's it and "buon appetito!"

Mary White
0 of 1 found helpful

Myself and a few freinds came to this restaurant as we'd heard great things about the pizza here, but we were greatly disappointed. The pizza is no better than ok and the service well lets just say they think they're doing you a favor by letting you eat at their restaurant. Most of the staff are rude and it is very cramped inside. I have no idea why it is busy. Either the people who come to this place only come once or they have no idea of good food. 1 out of 10. Poor Show I have even read an newspaper article about their bad service. Looks like nothings changed then.

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