If you’re keeping up with the London food scene, you’ll know that ‘pop-up’ bars and eateries are so on trend right now. But with such a temporary existence, you can blink and they’ll be gone again.
One of those pop-ups is Meter – a newly launched Italian pizzeria in the London’s east end. It’s set in the CAMP music and arts venue on City Road and has been pioneered by Neapolitan chef Valentino.
With bare brick walls and mis-matched sofas and furniture, it’s a typical edgy, no-frills east end venue. You won’t get flawless service and fine dining. But you will get a friendly, relaxed atmosphere and Valentino’s good honest food.
The beverages menu could tempt you with a range of Italian wines, from 2011 Pecorino Golden Fleece to an NV Inycon Rosso from the Settesoli region. Meter’s draft beer is the Japanese Asahi. But you will also get bottles of Shoreditch Blonde, Bethnal Green Pale Ale, and Hackney Gold – a salute to its east London location.
Pizza names are simple – listed in order of Uno, Due, Tre, Quattro (you get the idea). With more predictable pizza toppings nowhere in sight, Valentino has gone for the more inventive and classically Italian combinations such as Italian prosciuttos, ‘Speck’ (a juniper-flavoured ham from the region of Tyrol) and even fennel sausage and scamorza (an Italian cows milk cheese).
Shortly after placing our orders a single pizza arrives at our table. On closer inspection my prosciutto cotto, crushed potatoes, mushrooms, cream and mozzarella pizza has come joined up to my guest’s wild broccoli, fennel sausage, chillies and mozzarella option. In fact, all of Meter’s pizzas are sold by the metre (hence the name). They’re priced at a 0.25 of a metre on the menu which we both go for. Luckily there’s no heated discussion over where the half way mark might lie and we enthusiastically slice up our giant meal with the pizza cutter on the side. There are no extra plates either – it’s a case of slice and scoop or eat off the wooden board. Valentino’s bases are doughy and fresh – quite different to the thin-based trend which dominates UK Italian eateries. The ‘doughiness’ makes an unusual combination with the potato topping I go for. But it’s a nice change to the usual Hawaiian.
It’s a good place to visit for music buffs. Up and coming DJ James Priestley took ownership of Camp two years ago and it’s become something of a haven for underground house fans.
We’re too full to sample the dessert menu of Tiramisu, Pere Cotte and Affogato al Caffe & Cioccolato (vanilla ice cream, shot of espresso and chocolate). But we do enjoy a ‘Linger’ (Raspberries and fresh cracked black pepper, vodka and lemon) and a ‘Sultry Nectar’ (Santa Teresa, Claro rum, mango, basil and chilli, muddles with sugar and lime, served in a crush) from a short but impressive cocktail menu.
Cool and edgy? Yes. Staying power in London’s ever changing pop-up scene? Only time will tell. I’ll definitely go back for one more Linger though.
Meter at CAMP (the City Arts and Music Project) 70-74 City Road, EC1Y 2BJ, 020 7253 2443.
By Lucy McGuire