Sitting proudly on Dalston high street is Pizza Union’s newest branch of its steadily growing empire. All the talk of budget-friendly prices, a vibrant atmosphere and pizza good enough to make your Italian grandmother weak at the knees meant that this was one carb-loaded evening I could not miss.
The Venue & Atmosphere
Unsurprisingly, this Dalston venue oozes cool.
Neighbouring restaurants looked to be heading for an early close on a quiet and cold Wednesday, but things at Pizza Union were already moving through the gears. Easily the most popular spot in the area, yet large enough not to have to wait for a table or feel uncomfortably crowded, this modern pizzeria takes inspiration from casual European cafes, restaurants and bars. The music is upbeat, the lighting is dim and the open plan layout could mean you easily mistake this for a Friday evening drinking spot. Whilst the majority of customers were typically Dalston-esque, there were also young families, colleagues out for a team meal and grandparents babysitting children, all proving that pizza is more than just a dish, it is a social activity.
The Food & Drink
If the atmosphere was slick and modern, the food took a complete u-turn and went for traditional, Romana styled pizzas. The options won’t blow you away, but they use minimal ingredients that are authentic and classic. This is not to suggest they’ve cut corners, instead the chefs have focused on quality over quantity.
My pizza partner opted for a Vesuvio (£5.50), topped with pepperoni, mixed peppers, green and cracked chillies whereas I went for something slightly less explosive, the Calabria (£5.95); mascarpone with n’duja spicy sausage and rocket. This may tickle the taste buds of all meat lovers but it’s the extensive vegetarian menu that will please your green fingered friends and shows the restaurant’s commitment to inclusivity. Six of the sixteen pizzas come meat-free and there are also cheese-free options revealing Pizza Union’s finger to be firmly on the veganism pulse.
There are side salads to make you feel a little easier about your carb-heavy life decisions, as well as a drool worthy dessert menu of gelatos and a Dolce Classico (£3.20) that’s sprinkled with flour, oozes nutella and is stuffed with mascarpone. As the atmosphere suggests, this isn’t just a pizzeria. Bottled lagers, Prosecco and wine offer an opportunity to make an evening out of it but it is the refreshing frozen margaritas that are the perfect antidote to your inevitable food coma.
Prices that are easy on the purse strings stop Pizza Union from becoming another slice of soulless gentrification. Instead, they’ve taken steps to make sure politics are left out of pizza, remaining focused on its defining parts: rich, mouth-watering ingredients served in an sociable, vibrant setting.