People I’m still not over pizza. We went to fifteen pizza places in Edinburgh this summer on a mission to find the city’s ‘best slice’, and I would keep going if my bank balance and jeans would allow it. Humour me okay? I know we’re not New York, I know we don’t really do ‘slices’, but that didn’t stop me from trying anyway.
For the past eight weeks I’ve been scoffing pizza all in the name of ‘research’ and enlisted the help of my friends along the way (I’m just the worst, right?). We weren’t rating the service, or the atmosphere, or the ice-cream. We were scoring the pizza alone; so pizza chefs of Edinburgh, this is all your hard work.
A little message to my friends
My friends were amazing, and I’m giving James a high-five for helping me take on four pizza places in one day! Josh I have to apologise because I lost your comments and rating after our wine sesh. Erin…I’m so sorry about the spiciness. Bec, Stacey, Lisa and Chloe, the rain was worth it right? Mum, you took one for the team with that tomato-less pizza. And finally Hassan, you handled that artichoke like a pro.
The search for Edinburgh’s best slice
With: James came to Civerinos Slice, and my Mum joined me at the original Civerinos on Hunter Square.
Pizza: At Civerinos Slice I had the Parmigiana and James went for the classic Civerinos. On Hunter Square I tried…oh I went for Parmigiana again! Woops. But I also dabbled with Meat is Murder.
The verdict: Pizza done right. Pizza so fresh and delicious that it’s like no other pizza you’ve tasted in Edinburgh. The most laid back pizza on this list, oozing sophistication, and not a gloopy topping in sight. A restaurant on Hunter Square, a neighbourhood pizza bar on Forrest Road, or a box on your couch via the Anti Social Pizza Club…I don’t care how you do it, just do it.
Eve: 9/10 I loved the crispy, airy base that held the sauce and toppings so well. The flavour of the sauce was phenomenal.
James: 8/10 Base was very good and crispy all the way round, but sauce distribution wasn’t as great. This pizza needed more toppings.
Mum: 9/10 Lovely pizza, ate every bit. Easy to cut, loved the base, it was well cooked.
With: Hannah, Erin and Jenny. James sent me a review via WhatsApp.
Pizza: Both Hannah and I went for the Mediterranea….great minds right? 😉
The verdict: What a packed out restaurant! It’s eccentric, full of murals and outrageous sundaes; but it’s the pizza that you’ve got to go for.
Eve: 9/10 Loved the flavours, gorgonzola was not overly strong and the crust tasted lovely. Didn’t want the pizza to end! But it did.
James: 8/10 Very simple but tasty. Good sauce and topping distribution with a slightly crispy base, but also soft at the same time. Good size of pizza and reasonably priced. The pizza came as a whole and was not pre-sliced for you which was a little bit of a pain.
Pizza: Chicken and Pancetta as they’d sold out of my favourite Goats Cheese Garden.
The verdict: A tiny little place on Rose Street ideal for a quick slice on the go. I prefer their pizzas delivered, but in the shop you get to enjoy the banter of the people working there, and help Mario save the Princess (using the tip jar).
Eve: 8/10 Found this slice quite oily with a soft base. This Chicken and Pancetta was not on the same level as the Goats Cheese Garden I’ve had previously. Tasty, but not first place.
James: 9/10 Base wasn’t as good, but topping distribution and what not was better, and better flavour than Civerinos. It was just right.
With: All by myself.
Pizza: Spinach and Feta.
The verdict: In a secluded part of the city on Lister Square, this is an ‘artisan Swedish bakery’ which does surprisingly good pizzas. I sat here planning my trip to Barcelona not feeling at all guilty to be devouring this giant pizza in full view of everyone going to the gym across the road.
Eve: 8.5/10 Such a tasty pizza! It’s like pizza ombre if you look at it; crust to red tomato, to a nice bit of golden cheese then bright feta and dark spinach! They’re not a ‘pizza place’ by definition, but they got this so right.
With: A much loved takeaway alone.
Pizza: Margherita Speciale.
The verdict: One to hit on Leith Walk, Origano is part elegant, part playful, and it knows how to make a good pizza! I usually take out, and sometimes even carry the box to the nearest park with friends and plastic cups of fizz. Classy.
Eve: 8/10 This definitely wins as one of the prettiest pizzas…tomato, baby mozzarella, garlic, santos tomatoes and basil presented perfectly on the roundest pizza I’ve ever seen! This reminded me of the pizzas I got in Spain as a kid, and it had the most amazing herbal flavour on top of a soft (but not floppy) base. It missed out on the top spot because I found the mozzarella too thick in places (my pizza pet peeve).
Pizza: The Mario.
The verdict: Popping-up at outdoor venues around Edinburgh, Pizza Geeks’ woodfired pizzas are becoming a regular on the city pizza scene. The menu isn’t extensive, but that’s just fine because look at the size of their little hut. They’re there for you when you want a pick-me-up pizza, so less choice means less time wasted pondering over toppings.
Eve: 8/10 Loved the tomato flavour on this pizza, thought it was the perfect size for its purpose.
James: 8/10 Liked the base. It was simple but elegant, ideal when you’re out for a few pints.
With: Lisa, Bec, Chloe and Stacey.
Pizza: Gusto del Papa.
The verdict: Sun cream, umbrella, sun cream, umbrella. Mamma’s in the Grassmarket is great fun and it’s the kind of place where you could add marshmallow or cactus to your pizza if you felt like it. We opted for a simple selection and lots of wine to celebrate the impressive Scottish summer. Notice that the pizza arrived after it started raining…thanks for the umbrella Mamma’s!
Eve: 8/10 Great sized pizza for sharing or scoffing all on your own. Lovely, bubbly cheese and a true party pizza. Love it when the sauce is really saucy. Rainwater not included.
With: Josh (Happy Birthday).
Pizza: Diavola for me and a Funghi Pollo (no mushrooms) for Josh.
The verdict: ‘All night long’ is too true for Josh whose bedroom is above Mia’s in Morningside. (Hilariously when I reread that sentence I realised it did not mean what I meant it to). Let me rephrase that: they’re a noisy bunch late into the night according to Josh, who is their neighbour upstairs, but their pizza is yum! And their menus come in old vinyl album covers, such as this Lionel Richie one. Fun fact, this was the first place we ‘officially’ rated in the search for Edinburgh’s best slice!
Eve: 7.5/10 Perfect level of heat, but lacking a good crust. Excellent flavours and simply presented.
Josh: 8/10 Thought it was great!
With: Yours truly.
The verdict: La Favorita, I love you, but your consistency is what brought you down on this list. But, when you get a good La Favorita, it’s really good. It’s no wonder it’s a Leith favourite!
Eve: 7.5 Sweet tomato flavour, nice and crisp (very crisp) crust.
With: Hassan and guest star Alistair.
Pizza: Frankie Goes to Holyrood for me, and Meat is Murder for Hassan.
The verdict: Pizza for £1 on Mondays? Yes please! I used to live so close to Kilderkin but rarely ventured into the pub. It’s a little-known gem for pizzas, with unusual toppings such as crocodile and zebra alongside fun takes on the classics. The most exciting thing I found on the ‘less exotic’ menu was a ZomBrie pizza! I opted not to go for it this time as it sounded a little on the sweet side (Brie, cranberry and mozzarella).
Eve: 7.5/10 Nice thin crust and toppings (haggis and mozzarella) not overly thick. Crisp, crunchy and flaky in a good way.
Hassan: 7.5/10 Toppings need to be spread out a bit more, or added to. Like the base.
Alistair: 7/10 The sauce took the number down. It needs more garlic and basil.
Pizza: A No. 14 for me and a 1926 for Mum.
The verdict: So…you know when people really big a place up? That’s kind of what happened here. Pizzeria 1926 is gorgeous with delicious food (I could eat the starters all day!), but their pizza, while definitely good, is something quite different which not everybody will like. You may love it, we did not.
Eve: 7/10 Found this difficult to swallow because of the very large strips of meat and the thick mozzarella. The base was difficult to cut for both of us as well. That being said, the sauce on my pizza had a lovely flavour (and smelled amazing as it was baked in the oven).
Mum: 7/10 Different take on a pizza. Definitely preferred the tomato base to the cheese one on the 1926. Found the strips of pork a bit off putting and would rather it was shredded.
Pizza: We shared (omg) a No. 6.
The verdict: A new pizza place in town, and you can tell as soon as you walk in the door by how ‘super friendly’ the staff are! Lovely people, okay pizza.
Eve: 7/10 A bit doughy, nice sauce and not too much cheese which I liked. Could have been a bit more exciting with the toppings.
Hassan: 6.5/10 Sauce was good, base was good. Crust was too big, parts of the base felt too soggy and the toppings really were just thrown on. No exciting colours even though it was a vegetarian pizza. Didn’t like how the artichoke came in one big chunk.
Didn’t make the cut…
So much effort went into creating this list that I couldn’t leave out three of the other places we tried along the way. Let’s play a game: see if you can guess where each of these pizzas is from?
I couldn’t not go to Pizza Paradise, I mean it’s just one of those places. Their pizza would have rated inaccurately high had I been here at 3am with my friends. But that’s not how this works, right? James gave Pizza Paradise a 7/10 and said: “Loved the cheese pull, wasn’t too stringy, dough was fluffy, good drunk pizza”. For me, it sort of reminded me of the frozen pizza I had as a kid. That’s not a bad thing after a night out.
Papilio, what do I say about Papilio? The pasta looked good…Erin’s pizza burned her mouth off and I had to peel the excessive amount of meat off mine. Harsh, I know.
Bar Napoli is another one of ‘those places’. You know what I’m talking about. It just so happens Stacey and I were a few drinks in when we went, but it still didn’t make the pizza amazing. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but the dessert was so much better.
Answers: 1 – Pizza Paradise (half n half), 2 – Bar Napoli (Pizza Montanara), 3 – Papilio (Pizza Papilio)
Where to next?
I’ll never be done with pizza, and I’ll keep updating this blog whenever I find a new contender! I still need to try Wildmanwood, but I’ve heard mixed things so I’m holding off just now. Hit me with your recommendations of pizza places in Edinburgh!