There was an interesting point during my teenage years, well thankfully there were a few, but a particular one to note was the first time I tasted rocket on a pizza. Things had been going well in my ambitions of being a restaurant-goer. My friend Emily and I took great pride in our trips to Pizza Hut of a Friday afternoon, following our inexplicable, yet totally revered half-day of school. One of the benefits of going to ‘council’ schools, I suppose. The teachers must have been holding out.
Anyway, Em and I had our respective favourites week in, week out, and kinda figured we’d hit the dizzy peaks of both pizza, and pocket-money funded eats. How wrong we were…
Next thing, we were fifteen, and bound via GNER for London-town. We took in the sights, fawned over Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock Cafe’s respective junk, and generally speaking fulfilled every ‘goofy-teen on first capital city visit cliché’. We even managed to sneak into a Leicester Square nightclub and order rum and cokes.
My highlight of the adventure may have been a trip to Pizza Express. It was cool in there, you know? They had a funky shiny interior, and a live jazz band playing in the corner. Toto. I’ve a feeling we won’t be going back to Pizza Hut anymore. The pièce de résistance was the pizza with peppery rocket leaves. Little gem lettuce had just been outshone, and my love of the Soho pizza was born.
Back home, and I reckon it was another six years before I realised that Pizza Express had opened in Edinburgh. One minute it had been a dim distant memory, the next thing it had opened on my doorstep. Crispy, base, tomato sauce, lots of rocket, some bland black olives and a drizzle of garlic oil. I’m still not sure why my palate adores this combo so much, but I find it easier not to ask questions.
And so this love-affair continued for a few years. Question: Where do you want to go for eats? Answer: I’ll meet you down at Stockbridge, then? But then a few things changed in Edinburgh. Cento Tre opened on George Street, La Favorita opened somewhere in the wilds of Leith Walk. My pizza passion was about to be changed forever…
End of Part One.