Michele Manze and family arrived from Italy in 1878, started out as ice-cream merchants and finally opened this pie, mash and eel shop in 1902. Inside, little seems to have changed since those early days: the Edwardian green-tiled interiors speak of history, while the pie and mash is reckoned to be some of the best in town. The liquor can be a tad thick, though the mash is smooth and the pie filling sits nicely between the soft suet-pastry base and the flaky, almost burnt lid.
Like many other great things in London, classic cockney pie and mash was created among working-class and immigrant communities – many of them Italian. From the nineteenth century to the 1990s, London had a pie ’n’ mash shop on almost every high street. Now, these tiled beauties are an endangered species. Often small family-run businesses, some have been open for a century or more continuously, and the survivors are hubs for local communities. But they have struggled as London’s menu has diversified into the street food of six continents. If you’re into Instagramming your smashed avocado, take note: along with Sunday roasts, fish ’n’ chips and full-english fry-ups, this city was built on pies, mash, eels and liquor. Why not tuck into the OG food of London?
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