I must begin with a confession.
I love pizza, like most people, right? Except I love pizza in a ‘here’s my Excel spreadsheet of all the pizza joints in the city categorised geographically and then colour-coded by type’ sort of way. I’ve made my way through a fair amount of Neapolitan versions and 4973827 fermented sourdoughs, but I have yet to encounter a good deep dish in the capital, let alone the first-ever London-style pizza. So that’s how Japes found its way onto my list, and I jumped at the chance to tick it off.
Japes is a Dean Street joint beckoning those who’ve just had an underwhelming meeting at Soho House, promising satisfying carbs and laid-back vibes. The first thing we notice as we walk in is a neon yellow sign trying to debunk the dairy nightmare myth via Annie Lenox, reading sweet dreams are made of cheese.
My dinner date and I went on a Thursday which was overwhelmingly busy, but then again it is the new Friday. My initial thought was that, although the decor was nice with low hanging, rose gold lights, ribbons of greenery and bright red accents, the seating plan really could have benefited from some booths. I felt way too close to other diners for a meal that was going to be alarmingly messy for me.
To start, we opted for Padron peppers (£4.99) as we didn’t want to fill up on nachos before the main event. These were pleasant, topped with a generous sprinkling of salt.
For mains, we ordered two margheritas, one London-style (£10.99) and one deep dish (£9.99), plus two dips: Japes tomato dip and spicy mayo (£1.99 each). We chose to go simple because an excellent margherita is a hallmark of a good pizza place (and that's how I've been rating all the restaurants on my spreadsheet).
When they arrived together at the same time, my eyes nearly fell out of my head. The deep dish resembled a giant Yorkshire pudding filled with copious amounts of rich, herby marinara and cheese with a pull so good that it could take you home.
The London-style pizza had some of the same elements but with a twist. The dough was thick and bouncy, Motor City cheese had been caramelised, encrusting the edges and finishing it off was a velvety, 11-ingredient tomato sauce.
Both were absolutely delicious and while I made a valiant attempt to consume all of at least one, I had to put three slices in a takeaway box and embark on an hour-long walk post-pizza, as I was starting to give dough eyes across the table.
The DesignMyNight Digest
For an establishment outside of the US daring to serve deep dish, its offering was spectacular but not one for the faint-dairy-hearted. The London-style seemed to be a hybrid of the best bready types of pizza, which I’m here for, but I’m not sure why a caramelised crust screams the capital of England (unless it's a very crispy place).
💰 The damage: £29.95 for two (excluding service charge and two diet cokes).
📍 The location: 22-25 Dean Street, Soho, W1D 3RY.
👌 Perfect for: Meeting up with friends or after work hangs.
⭐ Need to know: There’s genitalia on the loo doors which might catch you off-guard and you probably won’t be able to finish an entire pizza.