75 Slices

Three Colts Tavern

Where once the Roman Empire extended its iron-clad fingers over these isles (admittedly a long time ago), a modern wave of Italian influence has swept into our culture.

Pizza, my friend, is a big deal, with many pubs offering a variety, chains popping up like villas all over Britannia, and the internet awash with smug garden owners and their glowing miniature furnaces.

I realise Italian food hasn’t been considered a new thing in Britain since the 1930s, but we are talking about region-specific styles from the New World.

High-quality ingredients kept at refreshingly low prices, vegan and gluten-free options, New York vs Neapolitan, and whatever a New Orleans pizza is.

London itself now has its own pizza festival.

According to Tony Naylor in the Guardian, Pizza Pilgrims and Rudy’s grew by 27 per cent and 23 per cent this year respectively, and market analyst Lumia Intelligence says that pizzas make up 21 per cent of the menus of chain restaurants.

Pizza is no longer something to defrost and whack in the microwave. No, our round little pal keeps spinning into the upper echelons of the food sphere.

Customisable, cool, and cost-effective, it is understandable why this Italian fare is so popular, especially in a pop-up format for established pubs.

This leads us neatly onto the Three Colts Tavern.

Not long am I a returning angel to this venue, with its oddly eclectic industrial decor and boisterous evening crowd. In fact, this is my second pizza-based review of the pub.

The bar is full when we arrive a little later in the evening and the Black Truffle, clearly a crowd favourite, was already sold out.

My fungal heart dropped. A truffle béchamel, white base, and aged parmesan toppings were beckoning me, and I curse those who beat me to it.

We press on regardless.

Your dear writer sometimes has flashes of genius, and my idea to split our two pizzas into four flavours seemed an utterly inspired way to try more of the menu.

This, along with an impromptu aria from some classically trained opera singers in the freezing smoking area, almost made up for the 45-minute wait.

Busy is wonderful, but part of pizza’s allure is surely its speed?

The New York-style dishes are pretty. The charred and bubbled crusts are airy and upward-reaching, like a tectonic plate pushed up into a mountain range over millennia (or 45 minutes, take your pick).

The Roasted Mushroom gives an incisor-scraping crunch that feels so deliciously destructive. But with confit garlic oil, mozzarella and tomato sauce, it ended up a rather predictable flavour, and one that not even the miniature shroom shavings could save.

Double Pepperoni has the expected carnivorous blaze, and contains everything you would expect. Mozzarella again, topped with large and small pepperoni slices. Yep, certainly a spicy, meaty pizza.

The Calabria has the funk of nduja and red onion to keep our mouths moving and awake, but the Spicy Roni, for all the excitment it promised with its mix of jalapeño and hot honey, disappoints.

Sad, shrivelled basil leaves lay incinerated atop our two pizzas, looking like Pompeii’s mummified population.

Everything seems almost acceptable until the house garlic and fresh herb mayo dips run out. Then the reality hits you square in the jaw.

Now, I will hold my hands up and admit that perhaps things might have been different had I snatched the truffle pizza. Or maybe my combination plan meant a bastardising of flavours?

Furthermore, a sustainable focus on organic flour and UK meat and dairy products boosts 75 Slices’ credentials. And the fact that they manage to keep everything on the menu below £15 is admirable.

The problem is, for whatever reason, that you just can’t taste much of that ethical sourcing goodness.

But after a few pints of the Three Colts’ craft kegs and cask ales, perhaps this is precisely what you need?

Pizza may be marching on the capital in blazing purple and scarlet, but not at an even pace, and this Celt was certainly not subjugated.