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Otto Pizza W2
On a barely furnished Bayswater corner, the UK's self-proclaimed first cornmeal pizza crust restaurant; our visit suggested that it's a concept worthy of wider diffusion.
The phrase 'concept new to the UK' is one that chills the blood. How often have we heard that before? So it was with a sense of duty rather than rapturous anticipation that we ventured to 'The UK's first cornmeal crust pizza restaurant. Located in Notting Hill, London.'
Let's take the second - easy - bit first. It's not true. Chepstow Road W2 - like everywhere else in W2 - is in Bayswater. There may never have been a film called 'Bayswater', but Notting Hill does not overspill the borders of the Royal Borough, and Chepstow Road is in the City of Westminster. (* see note below)
The claim to be the 'UK's first cornmeal crust pizza restaurant' may have a firmer foundation, though. Rather - as it turns out - like the pizzas themselve: we've certainly never come across pizzas whose bases had the rather cakey consistency we encountered here. Inspiration for the venture? The proprietors, ex-bankers, happened upon it in Portland, Oregon (as you do).
Initial impressions are very basic. The premises are small, with every expense on the decor having been spared. The service, initially at least, was rather in keeping. No greeter. Indeed, no greeting. 'May we have a table for three?' 'Sit anywhere.'
Thereafter, things quickly looked up. Free tapwater quickly arrived unbidden, together with a to-the-point wine list, and a menu with a small number of rather odd choices. A whole pizza serves 'two or three', so there was only one sensible option - order the 'selection', pizza which comes with half a dozen (discrete) toppings. We also ordered two of the three salads available.
Cornmeal crust pizza turns out to be a concept whose arrival in the UK is overdue. We had an thoroughly satisfying lunch for an adult and two children - Dad admittedly doing more than his fair share of the work - plus three drinks for just over £30 (plus tip). And in the heart of, er, Bayswater too.
Bizarrely, most of the customers seemed to be American, presumably visitors from neighbouring Notting Hill. Shame We Brits are missing out on a concept of which the Land of the Free can justly be proud.
* The restaurant has got in touch to insist that it IS in Notting Hill, but says (or, if you like, admits) that the border isn't entirely clear. The author, as it happens, used to live in Notting Hill (before it was famous) and sticks to his belief that anywhere on the west side of the Chepstow Road is by no stretch of the imagination in the now-celebrated area. There is, however, no line drawn on any 'official' map.
6 Chepstow Rd, London, W2 5BH
Last orders: 11 pm, Sun 10 pm