Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Made in Italy


Recommended Posts

Made in Italy pulled off a form of offence today that nobody has managed for years: they made me miss the beginning of a film. The film being Polanski's generally excellent The Pianist, this was particularly outrageous. However, I shouldn't be too hard on them: we had less than 50 minutes to be in and out, and I don't think the waitress took in our initial declaration of limited time. Later, however, the Italian reaction to English tension only functioned to raise it. Don't worry, she said. We are worried, we replied.

Otherwise, MiI turns out to be a blatant, and to a limited degree successful, attempt to replicate the Pizza Metro formula. Similar style of pizza, several of the exact same songs playing on a loop, and half of the staff (including the apparent capo) are PM graduates. Similar but duller menu: the pasta dishes read much more run-of-the-mill than PM's tighter and more convincing focus on seafood. They also looked less distinctive from the brief glances I managed.

Bread was very close. Slightly too firm around the edges, perhaps, but a very good rendition. Buffalo mozzarella, which we took on suggestion from the head waiter (have some bread and mozzarella before your pizzas arrive, why doncha), was the first sign of weakness: fine, but not nearly as good as PM's. Attention to detail in ingredient sourcing is really one of the things that makes PM stand out -- Alberto flies in his own tomatoes, for example, and they're superb. In the face of ongoing success, he's even improved things recently -- black pasta arrives from Naples every week, and the coffee, once a near-weak point, is now excellent.

Back to MiI: so the bufala was okay, surrounded by a couple of bits of ham and some rocket and some olives, and these last were the second whiff of feet of clay, as they appeared to be tinned. Ew.

We'd ordered a 50cm pizza, half prosciutto/pomodorini/rucola and half salsiccia/funghi. Tackling the former first, I was impressed again: dough getting close to the PM ideal, other toppings fine. The sausage and mushroom half was more of a letdown: nondescript sausage and way, way too much cheese. Didn't help that I had to bolt it to go see Adrien Brody.

House red unusually drinkable. Overall, it coulda been a contender but someone didn't care enough. But if you need a pizza around Kings Road, it's more than adequate.

edit: I don't know if the above reflects the fact that it was definitely among the better pizzas I've had in London outside PM.

edit 2: dough was too thick even on the good half of the pizza

Edited by Kikujiro (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

edit: I don't know if the above reflects the fact that it was definitely among the better pizzas I've had in London outside PM.

Very good post. Being a fan of PM I often wondered about MII. I've never had a pizza at PM because I feel that I am wasting a precious evening but as I am in the Kings Road area frequently it does seem a nice place to try the pizza. Thanks again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No, they just didn't start the pizza on time.

I thought the film was overall very good. Films on this subject face a number of significant challenges, not least the fact that -- appalling though the notion might be -- some of the key elements of the ghetto experiences, particularly the arbitrary and obscene violence perpetrated by the Nazis, are so overfamiliar they are almost clichés. In this respect, one of the most powerful vignettes during the ghetto section involved an old Jewish man -- either drunk or (understandably) going mad -- cheerily approaching some German officers and bumming a cigarette off them. They gave him one. You kept waiting for something awful to happen but -- just this once -- it didn't. But you knew it could, at any point. Somehow this underlined the reality of the situation of living under that kind of absolute power more effectively, and less familiarly, than the scenes in which unspeakable horrible did happen.

On the whole, the film, at least in the first half, seems almost anonymously directed (for Polanski), which makes it even more successful. It also makes sense when you learn that Polanski's own wartime experiences -- surviving the ghetto, losing a parent to the camps -- are not that far removed from the protagonist, Szpilman, whose book the film is based on. Szpilman's book is apparently likewise almost distanced and unemotive, letting events speak for themselves; the film's most horrific scenes are often viewed from a distance, with little underlining from the camera or the soundtrack.

It's certainly Polanski's best film for ages. Brody, whose role is often fairly passive and reactive, is excellent. Tech roles -- cinematography, production design, and appropriately sparing use of music -- great throughout.

Edited by Kikujiro (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Progressive isolationism. Seems to be a big theme of Polanski's throughout his career. And a metaphor for Jews being increasingly isolated thoughout history. It is void of sentimentality because it would detract from that theme. In fact the only time the characters were sentimental is when he spoke with his sister at the train station. There was actually an article on this in the Sunday NY Times that maybe you can dig out online. But Mr. P had it down cold after seeing the movie. And yes it is difficult to show Nazi's as being human. Obviously there must have been some of that yes? But there isn't any good historical precedent to recreate on the screen. So the scenes always seem a little forced.

Sorry about late pizza. I mean what's the point of a late pizza?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's certainly Polanski's best film for ages.

I haven't seen The Pianist but on Polanski I'm one of the few people I know who thought Bitter Moon was a brilliant film-wry, cruel, poignant, wickedly funny- I thought it was a really engrossing tale of how male sexual obsession is bound up with mysogony and degradation. More themes that mean a lot to Polanski perhaps?

There's a hell of a lot of yadda about pizza on these boards lately. PeterPumkino's even talked about organizing an egullet event at Pizza Metro. I've got a yen to go back to Il Bordello and have one this weekend just to see if I was right to decide that I didn't really want to eat them any more.

Edited by Tonyfinch (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[There's a hell of a lot of yadda about pizza on these boards lately. PeterPumkino's even talked about organizing an egullet event at Pizza Metro.

Yes Tony, but it certainly would NOT be for pizza. As I've said I've never even had pizza at PM - too bigger fish to fry (excuse pun)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Popped into Pizza Metro for a quick bite at lunch yesterday.

Bread was good, nicely chewy and slightly salty. Croquettes to start, including 2 Arancini, potato an Mozzarella, all woefully underseasoned, luke warm (not sure whether they were meant to be a cold or a hot starter) and falling apart. Grilled mushrooms with garlic were served cold, with the main ingredient being oil and vinegar, little hint of garlic.

We then shared a pizza with two topping, Mozzarella, spicy sausage/ Tomato, Mozzarella, Prisciutto and rocket. huge pizzas, served in a rectangular, they spend approximately 90 seconds in the oven. Excellent base, which has gone soggy after five minutes because of the excessive amount of tomato sauce, spicy sausage is not spicy at all, way too much mozarella which has congealed before you are even half way through the pizza, making it hard work to eat. Again no noticeable seasoning which it desperately needed.

This might sound like a complete slating of the restaurant, it's not meant to be but I didn't really see it as outstanding, I think I would order 2 smaller pizzas next time, the bases started off beautifully. I left with the impression that the people in there enjoyed it because of the large portions.

I've had better pizza at Spiga where they are not afraid to serve pizzas without any cheese whatsoever and....SHOCK HORROR.....Pizza Express :shock: My Goodness two chains serving up good pizza! Pizza Express, is always fresh, the Soho is not a million miles away from the style of pizzas served at PM, but comes in a smaller portion, with just the right amount of Mozarella to keep it palatable all the way through. In my mind, good pizza should not be swapped with huge amounts of cheese.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

:shock::sad::blink::angry::huh:

Matthew, sorry to hear this. I can't account for the complete disparity between our experiences. Although (like Peter ...) I often have non-pizza options, I have been to (and taken away from) PM many, many times over the years and have never wavered from my sense that it is by far the best pizza in London. Indeed, as I mentioned before, I think quality (overall, not pizza in particular) has been raised recently. But then I'm addicted to those mushrooms.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Excellent base, which has gone soggy after five minutes because of the excessive amount of tomato sauce, spicy sausage is not spicy at all, way too much mozarella which has congealed before you are even half way through the pizza, making it hard work to eat.

Exactly why I've gone off Pizza. The best mouthfuls are the first two or three. Then its downhill from then on. By the time you get to the end of one of those big buggers it's like eating tomato and mozzarella flavoured wall filler.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As I've said, I've never actually had a pizza at PM! But I am told that the 'square pizza' is a speciality of the Naples region (although I've never seen one cooked like this) so how like your average pizza it is, I really don't know.

However, horrors of horrors, I do actually like Pizza Express, even if it's not a wood burning oven there!!!! Unfortunately I hear that Pizza Express are losing money and closing locations every day. Does anybody know if that's true?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Matthew, maybe they were off yesterday, because interestingly enough, my wife and I decided to go yesterday evening for our virginal Pizza Metro visit and we were pretty disappointed by the pizza as well. We ordered a pizza described as sausage with "fraierelli" brocolli (which I hoped in my heart of hearts was going to be brocolli rabe, but was not; has anybody ever seen brocolli rabe in London? does anybody know what Fraierelli brocollis meant to be?). It was a white pizza, so perhaps not a good representation, but the sausage turned out to be chunks of relatively flavourless and dry pork, the pizza was very greasy, the crust was very doughy and soft, the promised brocolli tasted like canned spinach, and the toppings were very sparse. The fact that the pizza was served on what appeared to be a lunch tray certainly did us no favours in trying to keep the damn thing from cooling off too quickly. The pizzas I have had at Spiga and Strada have been infinitely better (not so with Pizza Express which is an abomination, what the hell is an American Hot? We dont have those in America. Perhaps by America they mean somewhere in Bolivia?)

However, I am willing to concede that it might have been a bad night, and am thinking about returning. If for no other reason, and as Peter Pumkino has implied many times, the pasta was excellent. We had Linguine Gamberoni and Spaghetti Puttanesca and both were done perfectly or damn near close. Pasta was al dente, the sauces appeared to make use of fresh ingredients and were very well balanced. For the price, they were the best pastas I have had in London.

Another sour note however is the surrounding area. Nothing but high street chains, at least when it came to drinking and most eating, however, there did appear to be several cute shops on Battersea Rise. I thought it would be nice to grab a pint before dinner but couldnt find any pubs other than O'Neills and a similar fruit machined and de-bittered pub, called Northcote's. Any thoughts on decent places in the surrounding area for either before or after dinner drinks? Proper old boozers in particular would be appreciated.

Thomas Secor

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thomas, there are several non-chain as well as chain bars on Northcote Road and others. (There are also a few very good food shops.) However, the majority of them tend to be loud and heaving and full of drunken Battersea thirtysomethings.

I have in the past grabbed a table in the bar area of Buona Sera and downed a bottle of wine quite happily.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

'not so with Pizza Express which is an abomination, what the hell is an American Hot? We dont have those in America. Perhaps by America they mean somewhere in Bolivia?) '

In America it's just called a "hot". Same with Brazil nuts in Brazil and Mexican waves in Mexico.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

not so with Pizza Express which is an abomination, what the hell is an American Hot? We dont have those in America.  Perhaps by America they mean somewhere in Bolivia?)

Ah yes. America - where they have Danish that you don't get in Denmark, French Toast, that you don't get in France, English muffins you don't get in England etc etc. Maybe they mean the 'International' restaurants at Epcot!

But I am very happy you liked the pasta, and, as you say, it is the best in London IMHO.

(although I would question having Pizza AND Pasta!).

Yes, the area is not so salubrious and, for me anyway, it's very difficult to get to if your not driving.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In America it's just called a "hot".

So in America, its just hot pizza? whats all the other pizza? Actually, the real beef I have with Pizza Express is that the pies are relatively small and the prices high, particularly compared to an actual restaurant (although not a great one) such as Spiga. In addition, the salads are abominable.

Peter, my combination of foodstuffs may be questioned, but the antipasto looked unappetizing, my wife wanted pizza, I wanted pasta, and the pizzas appeared to only come in huge portions (I was later corrected on this point), hence we split a pasta as a starter and had the pizza as our main. And Im glad we did, otherwise I wouldnt have had the pasta. Overall I cant say that I am much stuck on what I am supposed to eat with what. I eat what sounds good to me, hell, I bet the pizza would have been better with the pasta on top of it.

Thomas Secor

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah yes.  America - where they have Danish that you don't get in Denmark, French Toast, that you don't get in France, English muffins you don't get in England etc etc. Maybe they mean the 'International' restaurants at Epcot!

Such a wasteland, isn't it? I wonder why all those Danish, French and English fools (not to mention Italians, Germans, et. al) want to come here to eat our faux food when they can stay home and eat the real thing.

Edited by jaybee (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ah yes.  America - where they have Danish that you don't get in Denmark, French Toast, that you don't get in France, English muffins you don't get in England etc etc. Maybe they mean the 'International' restaurants at Epcot!

Peter you're so often down on America that this looks upbeat, so I won't dwell on it, but I recall looking up a college professor in Stockholm--someone who had taught for a term in an American university. We had lunch and then went someplace for coffee. As we approached the pastry display case, he must have realized he found something that would touch my American sensibility. He pointed to some pastries and with a big smile said "You know what we call these in Swedish?" and after a pause he continued with "danishviennese." It seemed to speak to the Swedish neutrality. :biggrin:

Now what the hell is a "hot," in terms of anything one might order in America? I'm in New York, admittedly far from "America" at times in some people's minds, but I'm without a clue. I've never ordered a "hot" or a "hot pizza." Cold pizza is a favorite breakfast food of American college students who remember to put last night's pizza in the fridge before they pass out.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

[

Now what the hell is a "hot," in terms of anything one might order in America? I'm in New York, admittedly far from "America" at times in some people's minds, but I'm without a clue. I've never ordered a "hot" or a "hot pizza." Cold pizza is a favorite breakfast food of American college students who remember to put last night's pizza in the fridge before they pass out.

Just to clear this up the 'american hot' pizza at pizza express is peperoni sauasage, hot green peppers, mozzarella & tomato. it is to my mind the king of pizzas in the uk.

the 'american' on the other hand is simply the same without the hot peppers.

(however this is academic as it has i think now been taken off the revised menu)

gary

you don't win friends with salad

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...