Thursday, November 12, 2009

Eco , London : The Forgotten Gem

There is a very strong connection between the best pizzas in London and the owners of Eco in Clapham the Wassif family. In fact the owners of Eco today were owners of the site of the original Franco's Pizzeria in Brixton Market (in it's time the best) that they later opened as Eco Brixton after Franco moved to North London to set up Casale Franco. These days the site is Franco Manca widely accepted as the best authentic Neapolitan pizza base in London. The Wassif's are working with Giuseppe Mascoli to launch Franco Manca in Chiswick which is due to open in December 2009. In fact the artisan ovens are being hand built at this moment on site in Chiswick always between 90 and 130cm wide and no more than 35cm high on the inside.These dimensions will determine the oven's heat and humidity and mean just like in Brixton pizzas will cook in 40 seconds at 500 C + .

Sami Wassif a genial Egyptian businessman and epicurean has also invested in a number of high profile restaurants including Hakassan and worked on a number of Alan Yau projects not to mention with great talents like Francesco Mazzei who has now established the best Italian Restaurant in the UK , L'Anima .

Some 17 years ago when Franco went "missing" I remember hearing about the link with Eco and trying the Pizzas in the newly opened Clapham High Street restaurant . What struck me at the time was how light and digestable the base was as well as the quality of the toppings.

I recently returned to Eco and found it almost unchanged apart from a slightly bigger space and more extensive menu that includes salads and grilled meats and vegetables.

The pizza I had with ham , egg, red and green chilis was as I remember all those years ago. The restaurant was packed to the rafters with regulars and neophytes enjoying the great food and atmosphere overseen by probably the best front of house team I have come across in a Pizzeria !

Restaurants come and go on Clapham and many other High Streets in the UK and when one has been around for as long as Eco it usually means the food and atmosphere must be damned good !

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