Review: Fire & Stone – A Deliciously Different Pizzeria
Published 1 August 2010
I was invited today to a bloggers launch event for the new Fire & Stone branch at Old Spitalfields market today. There were a handful of other bloggers who were there at the event as well, along with a few of the staff from Fire & Stone.
Having never been to a Fire & Stone before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect! I’ve passed by their massive two storey flagship restaurant at Covent Garden, but until now had never had a reason or opportunity to try their food. One of the main reasons was, looking in from the outside, it looks like one of those Pizza Express copy-cat chains of pizza restaurants, and Fire & Stone always seemed to be part of cheap theatre & dining deals on Lastminute.com or always having two for one vouchers a-la-Pizza-Express-style on VoucherCodes.co.uk.
But all my preconceptions of Fire & Stone were thrown out the window when I visited today, and I can say it is nothing like Pizza Express at all. Sure, they both specialise in pizzas, but Fire & Sone are definitely one step above the unexciting and near fast food stuff you get at pizzeria chains. Its even better than ASK as well, which until today, was my favourite restaurant chain in London.
So why is Fire & Stone so different?
While they do pizzas, they were quite unlike any pizza I’ve had in London before. I can’t quite describe or identify the type of crust, but it was light and crunchy, certainly one step away from the conservative Italian pizza crust style. They make all their pizza bases freshly on site, and if you go round the back of the Spitalfields restaurant, you can see the sous-chefs making the bases, one at a time.
The toppings used were as un-Italian as you can get; pizzas with names such as Capetown or Lombok, New York or San Sebastian. Their pizza range is divided on the menu according to continent (you read right!), with pizzas named after cities or regions, and full of toppings that would make traditional Italian pizzeria owners roll over in their graves. But having sampled several of the different flavours on offer, these flavours are rather ingenious and the imaginative toppings really did come together to make extremely good tasting pizzas, providing an experience that not only tickles your taste buds, but your creativity as well.
With so many unique flavours to choose from, and all the pizzas sounding equally mouth-watering, it was hard to decide which ones to try! Fire & Stone’s bestselling pizza is the New York, topped with smoked bacon and mozzarella, roast potatoes and onion jam. My personal favourite was the Capetown, which was a very spicy number consisting of Italian pepperoni, ground spicy beef, and some green chilli. For steak lovers, you have to go for the Texas, which comes with big slices of steak rump, topped with field mushrooms and red onions. If you’re new to London or a tourist, try the London pizza, which comes with crispy bacon, Cumberland sausage, black pudding, and a fried egg! For seafood lovers, the Lombok comes with big juicy king prawns, with a delicious Hoi Sin sauce that I never knew could go well on a pizza.
As any good chef knows, if you get the freshest and tastiest ingredients, thats more than half the job done in creating a great dish. And at Fire & Stone, I was impressed that most of their fresh meats (chicken, lamb, and beef) came from a local British farm, and that their spicy chorizo sausage (on their San Sebastian pizza) comes from Brindisa, one of the best purveyors of Spanish meats in London. Their buffalo mozzarella cheese, sourced from Italy, tasted very fresh and light as well, and I strongly recommend if you’re going to have a starter to order the buffalo mozzarella with tomatoes and roasted peppers.
When I flipped to the back of the menu, I was well surprised to find a really wide range of drinks available. Its not often that you find the trio combination of wine, house spirits, and milkshakes on the same menu! We had a sample of the Bricco de Gauzzi white from the Gavi di Gavi vineyard in Italy, which was very refreshing and fruity without being too over the top. Amongst the smoothies, The Classic was in my opinion the best out of the lot, decadent but at the same time quite healthy as it had a blend of strawberries blended with banana and pineapple juice.
Having arrived at Fire & Stone expecting just another pizzeria chain in London, my opinion has done a complete 180 degrees u-turn. Fire & Stone have essentially re-invented the pizza that will leave most traditional Italians groaning in horror, but I think they have pulled it off really well. Where else in London would you find such unique toppings such as mint yoghurt sauce, cumin roasted sweet potato, macadamia nuts, or black pudding on a pizza? If you’re like me and tired of the Pizza Expresses and ASKs and Carluccios of this world, then you should really visit Fire & Stone to experience something different and unique that will leave you at the end of the meal with your imagination on fire.
At £8.45 – £8.95 for most pizzas, its also very affordable, and more so if you can find an offer on their website or at vouchercodes.co.uk. Plus for the next week only (3rd August to 6th August), their Spitalfields branch are offering their pizzas for £2 on Tuesday, £3 on Wednesday, £4 on Thursday, and £5 on Friday!
Fire & Stone (Old Spitalfields Market branch)
Address: Fire and Stone, 4 Horner Square, Old Spitalfields Market, London E1 6EW
Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday (11am to 11pm), Sundays (11am till 8pm)
Other Fire & Stone branches in London include the original in Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, and Westfield in Shepherds Bush.
More pictures from my lunch at Fire & Stone: