303-307 Balham High Rd, Tooting Bec, London SW17 7BA www.mammadough.co.uk
My love of pizza is a love that dare not speak its name because my partner doesn’t like pizza at all.
We met, all those years ago, standing by the office Xerox copying recipes out of glossy magazines. We found in each other a fellow food lover (the disgusting word’foodie’ thankfully didn’t exist in the 1980s).
We see eye to eye on every food but pizza.But I am allowed the occasional treat and with Mamma Dough open just a short way away from home, I persuaded the pizza-denier to accompany me for a pre-lockdown treat.
Outside there was a queue of people getting takeaway, as well as scooter drivers. As we’d booked, the portcullis ( a table) was removed from the doorway and we were cheerfully let in to be squirted with sanitiser.
It’s a ritual I rather assume is now going to be a fixture in my lifetime, and quite possibly yours too, unless you’re under ten.Inside it has been made covid spacy by removing or moving tables, but this doesn’t actually make it look bad.
The industrial chic is of bare brick and upcycled scaffolding boards and timber wood from junkyards to create the walls, bar, tables and chairs.( the owner of the chain does it himself).
I like to see the pizza oven. I like to see flames, you really can’t cook decent pizza using electricity. Here the oven appears to be gas-fired, which is okay, although wood would be better, yes wood would.
We get a sharing plate of cured Sardinian meats, which at £8 is good value. Good meats too and all they need is the rocket, tomato and slivers of parmesan they come with.
They also come with sourdough bread, which to be honest is thick pizza base and not bread actually. We don’t overload too much on it as I can see the pizzas are going to be decent sized
The chain likes to use local suppliers, so they have Gypsy Hill brews on offer. I met the guys from the brewery once, they seemed very genuine and their beers excellent. To show South London solidarity therefore we drink a can of their IPA, served in proper frosty glasses.
Pizza time. I’ve gone for a’Dirty Girl’, from the daily specials, which was embarrassing enough ordering at the table, but probably even worse over the’phone. Especially if you’ve dialled the wrong number.
It’s a pizza where the tomato base has been laced with nduja and on top, at the last minute, great dollops of burrata have been scattered about generously in a thicket of rocket.The burrata is still a bit fridge cold, and while I don’t want it cooked or melted, which would negate the point of burrata, the contrast with the hot pizza is a bit jarring.
But within moments the pizza has warmed the cheese up. And the nduja is fiery.Of course the bottom is the business end. I don’t want to go into what makes a pizza base authentic; ask any Italian and stand well back, but I know what I like.
This is good. Charred at the edges, not liquid in the centre, chewy but also crispy in places and with the tang of sourness that makes it an ingredient in itself and not just a support act.
P has my usual favourite, the anchoa – tomato, mozzarella, anchovy, chilli, capers, olives and parsley.I try a bit of it and find the base not as crispy as mine, but then this one has a wetter topping. Lots of anchovies, a gentle hand with the chill, its all present and correct.
Both are just the right size, We can finish them seconds before being too full. I am persuaded to have a tiramisu. It’s ok, but rather claggy and not boozy enough.
But hey the pizzas. Really very good and the good news in this lockdown gloom is that they are perfect, pizza perfect, for pick up and home delivery.