A deep dive into some of the deepest ‘pies’ in London
Perfect as my wife certainly is (hello, dear!) she has one failing. She doesn’t like pizza, in fact she actively works to avoid it. Takeaways are banned and I would have more chance of getting her to eat a shoe than getting her into a pizza place.
So, popping around the corner to Japes in Dean Street, I ask a designer to accompany me and find no shortage of volunteers who love pizza.
And so do I. Usually I want it classic – thin and crispy, no fancy toppings, just a little bit liquid in the centre. That is not Japes’ way though. They’re all about Chicago Deep Dish, and now they have London Pizzas, too.
The Japes site on Dean Street is large and airy, you’re usually going to get a table here even on a busy evening. It’s also bang next door to the Soho Theatre, if you’re going in to see one of their somewhat unusual shows. And if you just want to watch people, then the big windows onto Dean Street are the best seats in Japes’ house.
We recklessly order padron peppers and some chorizo bites in red wine, reckless as we are unaware of the filling power of the pizzas to come. Both starters are Spanish of course, but a US style pizza joint doesn’t have to obey tradition. The peppers are well blistered, but none are hot. I don’t blame Japes for that, I haven’t had a hot Padron anywhere this year, I don’t know what’s going on with the growers.
The chorizo is very good, all too often leathery and dried out, these ‘bites’ are moist and spicy and partner up with a cold Camden ale perfectly.
So a Deep Dish Pizza, what is it? Well it’s deep man, really deep. It’s made in a tin to create the high walls and it’s smaller in diameter than your usual pizza. The high sides allow more toppings to be piled on, and the pizza can be cooked slower which helps the sauce richen up.
And all that mozzarella gives the classic Instagram stringy cheese shot as you pull your slice up and away, a shot we totally forgot to take as we were too keen to dive in. Soz.
We share our deep pan Piccante – pepperoni, peppers, nduja, mozzarella, parmesan, tomato sauce, fresh basil and it is rather good, I love nduja . The crust is crisper than I expected, which is a good thing. We also order a ‘London Pizza’.
This is a new pizza style created by the in-house team in Soho. They’ve taken Japes’ original Deep-Dish pizza and added elements of Detroit Style, Sicilian Style, and Grandma Style, the latter I have never heard of, but apparently it is usually a thin, rectangular style of pizza from New York.
Well ours is not rectangular but round, and we’ve gone for buffalo mozzarella, sun-dried tomato, mozzarella, tomato sauce and a forest of rocket topping. It’s a veggie pizza, in fact.
The mozza is, I am pleased to note, British. Hooray and the dough is lighter than Deep Pan. Sun dried tomatoes can be excessively chewy, but these are just soft enough and intensely flavoured while the peppery rocket is just right. We also dip our crusts in some lusty truffle mayonnaise dip, because well why not?
I am sorry to say we can’t quite finish either pizza, not because we don’t like them but because they are ‘hella’ filling. As a result we can’t even try the tempting waffles, in fact we can barely waddle back to our Greek Street base.
Japes reminds me of the golden days of Bob Payton’s Chicago Pizza Pie Factory in Hanover Square, back when I was a lad starting out in Soho ,and that’s no bad thing. Every town needs big bold pizzas they can rely on to make an evening out complete and Japes is just what I would always order.
22-25 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 3RY
There is also a Japes in Greenwich