As I told you, I was in Croydon, and it happened that just a few days before I had discovered a pizzeria on the internet twenty minutes by bus from where I was: Tomatino’s.
With a name like this, how do you think of a Neapolitan pizza? Indeed, it looks like one of those strange linguistic combinations born from the mind of an English entrepreneur who wants to wink at Italianness without giving up his roots. And yet, if you do n’t have to judge a book by its cover, maybe the same is true for restaurants, and you shouldn’t stop at the name. Especially since I certainly didn’t go by chance.
In fact, the images born from the Google business card showed me a veraciously huge pizza, so-called rota ‘e Carretta, seasoned properly and cooked just as well. There was little to be wrong about: that pizzeria had to be tried, regardless of the name!
On my arrival, the place seems to me all but a pizzeria, much less Neapolitan. I am greeted with a smile by a room manager who cannot fit into his ethnicity, perhaps Indian, perhaps Middle Eastern, and it does not matter. The place is almost empty, except for a couple of tables. But here it is, there, on the bottom, the wood oven. And that’s where I meet the pizza maker, and the only Italian in the restaurant: Mario Ursano. He will be responsible for the excellent Neapolitan pizza that I will eat that evening.
Mario is a young Neapolitan who left the city at 21. But, strangely, the craft did not learn it at home, but in Florence: precisely at the pizzeria Il Vesuvio. From there, different experiences took place in Italy and Europe, also growing as a cook until he arrived in London, where he worked for three and a half years.
From Tomatino’s Mario he arrived relatively recently: the restaurant, belonging to a family of Indians, had been aiming for Italian food since the beginning. But it was with the pizza maker that we turned towards truthfulness. Mario tells me that his Neapolitan pizza was very popular with the owners, who now leave him some space in the management of the kitchen and the supply of ingredients.
The pizza that I make myself, naturally a Bufalina, is reassuring for how simple it is: large draft, low cornice, an abundance of ingredients (apart from basil, unfortunately, finished that evening). Classic appearance, perfect and crumbly to the touch. I appreciate the rich flavor of the sauce (La Torrente tomatoes) and of the Bufala casertana mozzarella (through the Prestige distributor). I devour it with pleasure.
Just a shame that Mario had just decided to reduce the size of the dough, so the pizza I ate (and the others I saw him do) were smaller than the wheels and the cart I had seen in the picture. I would have had no problem eating a bigger one. The dough, made with Caputo Blu flour, is affected by its 36-hour maturation: the pizza comes down which is a beauty and will not be felt. The only note of note I make to Mario is a sprinkling of pecorino, a little too abundant, which tends to cover the overall flavor. But otherwise, it’s really a flawless pizza.
I greet Mario with satisfaction, and I hope to return soon. The place is a little out of hand compared to my fees: but for those who live in Croydon, Tomatino’s can be an excellent destination if you are looking for a real Neapolitan pizza.
ATTENTION: the owner of the restaurant unexpectedly offered me pizza at the end of the evening. If you think that this may have influenced my judgment, I invite you as always to read the disclaimer and go visit the pizzeria.
HOT: very good pizza in its simplicity, light, thin and elastic, with rich and abundant flavors and a decidedly true appearance. Excellent cooking, which gives friability to the cornice.