Crisp Pizza W6 at The Chancellors 25 Crisp Rd, London W6 9RL
Crisp Pizza: a slice of New York/New Haven in Hammersmith? Soupy chin-slappers BE GONE
For years I endured people that I used to love and trust telling me about 'this one pizza place’ that I just 'had to go to’, only to never return and subsequently cut them out of my life forever. Often contemptuous cash grab on the Neopolitan style it was the same, molten chin-slapping experience nearly every time.
But then there was Carl. Along with his very small team 'Crisp Pizza’ has been crafting New York/Haven-style pies at The Chancellors in Hammersmith with aplomb for quite a while, as I watched longingly through my phone. A tesselation of my hopes and their dreams, they are my dreamweavers; a thin, delicious dough with a sturdy base mottled with scorch that, when held aloft, mocks any spirit leveller. Unbowed by sauce or topping and blistered with carbonised bubbles, these pies give decibels of crunch that only increase crustwards.
Molten chin slaps, be gone.
Integrity isn’t just a structural quality but something inherent to every aspect of Carl’s approach, clearly expressed in the quality and handling of ingredients. Starting with an excellent dough, its making features heavily in Carl’s Instagram feed- sometimes late into the night, such is the unrelenting pride in his craft. Getting up-close and in-there, these billowy airbags are sliced open to reveal the extent of the prove- riddled with a tryphobic’s nightmare of air pockets that stickily yawn apart like something out of an H.R. Giger piece.
Exclusively using the fabled San Marzano, the sauce is of considerable depth which only comes from taking this tomato in its prime and doting on it as it’s cooked down. All those sun-blessed sugars have been permitted to caramelise and develop without losing vitality; their intense sweetness countering these pies' distinctive char- the bitterness playing a critical role in enhancing the overall flavour profile.
The ‘Funghi’ pie specifies 'seasoned mushrooms’ and I clasp my hands together in quiet prayer. So often you see them raw, not even coated in a little oil, resembling leathery skin - dry, rubbery and dead. Blessedly, Carl roasts his beforehand deepening the umami qualities but also allowing the mushroom to better assimilate itself into the pie’s surface. This kind of thorough integration goes for the mozzarella too; cooked to bubbly golden hues around the edge becoming lighter towards the centre, allowing a satisfying cheese pull- the level of doneness preventing everything from sluicing off with the first bite. Hosannah.
The Calabrian ‘nduja and buffalo mozzarella is a slow dance between heat and relief; the mollifying cheese tempering the generously pocketed eruptions of the sausage with its angry, essential oils that seep down into a perennially flopless base. It’s the same story of consistency and diligence with the pepperoni pie - beautifully rendered and well-distributed coins embedded with the undulating mozzarella. A final flourish with every creation is a fistful of fresh basil and a judicious drifting of parmesan as a seasoning.
Extras include a mound of baked pepperoni slices or 'chips’, which are not only a great up-seller but actually, a thought spared for those who want to customise by the slice, bite or just have as a superior bar snack. Even these get the parmesan drift treatment, too. The garlic and herb dip is virtuous- absolutely brimming with soft herbs all swirled into mayonnaise and doled out in measures sympathetic to the glory of demolishing an entire pizza.
There are only three of them in the kitchen, consistently breathing these beauties into existence at an incredible pace, without compromise. They are outstanding. Carl’s vision is so clearly defined and governed with such heart, that any deviation would be considered a breach of ethics. Now that Dave Portnoy has delivered a score of 8.1, which is proof that his hair transplant is growing into his actual brain because it should be way higher, expect an even busier pub from now on. Everyone knows the rules.