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Tiptop Neapolitan-style sourdough pizzas in Camberwell.
Sourdough pizza giant Franco Manca now has 18 restaurants across London, but one bit of the city not yet coloured in on the chain’s floury Risk board is the south-east. Perhaps looking to beat them to the punch, Theo’s is a similar set-up, dishing up Neapolitan-style sourdough pizzas and very little else. Another south-easter, 400 Rabbits, has already hopped into Crystal Palace, but Theo’s has made itself the crown pie-prince of Camberwell.
Unmissable as you walk through the door is the dome-shaped, wood-fired brick oven which ensures that the pies are done just right. Crusts are soft and chewy on top and crisp underneath, with welcome hits of bitterness from the odd charred spot. Toppings include aubergine, anchovies and various kinds of pork – and come piled high.
A little too high in some cases. A veg-heavy special of chestnut mushroom, blue cheese and leek soon turned soggy in the middle as the over-abundant greenery perspired into the base.
It’s better to focus on the more straightforward stuff. The wonderfully cheesy garlic pizza bread (misleadingly labelled as ‘focaccia’ on the menu) showed that Theo’s is capable of doing great things with simple ingredients, and suggests that the £5 lunchtime panuozzo (essentially a pizza sandwich) is also worth checking out.
Pies range in price from £6.50 for the margherita to £10 for meatier options. More-than-serviceable house wines come by the 500ml or litre jug. Or partner your pie with entry-level craft offerings from Kernel and Orbit. And check out the short, Italian-leaning cocktail list.
If you do, be sure to sit in and make it a leisurely lunch. With its bare, whitewashed walls and marble-topped tables, eating at Theo’s is a bit like chowing down in an art gallery but minus the stuffy discomfort. The atmosphere is very welcoming, and everything’s keenly priced – not Manca-level cheap, but still, no dish comes in over a tenner. And staff are as cheery as you like. So watch your back, Franco – Theo’s has taken SE5, and in some style.
2 Grove Lane
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