Trying to review pizza seems like a pretty futile exercise; like Woody Allen says, “Pizza is a lot like sex – when it’s good it’s really good, when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good” (he stops short of mentioning the merits of “eating pizza” with your own step-daughter) and a lot of places seem happy to operate using that as their unspoken mantra.
The fact that it’s pretty much delicious-by-design makes it harder to tell the difference between the pretty good and the really good – asking somebody whether they prefer one geometric lump of hot dough, cheese and sauce to another is like asking a Labrador to explain which of his ears he’d rather you scratched behind.
Some places make it easy for you to choose though, through their sheer commitment to giving you that good good – in Ecco’s case that’s by importing everything – even the chefs – directly from Naples and strictly following the OG rules of Neapolitan pizza-making as set out and certified by the “Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana” which is a genuine governing body that I’m going to canvas with application forms until they buckle and take me into their open arms.
The AVPN’s rules dictate everything from the ingredients and thickness of the dough to the temperature and fuel of the wood-fired oven – following all of their guidelines to achieve certification sounds like having a control-freak friends who you totally wouldn’t put up with, if it wasn’t for the fact they provide you with amazing pizza – which is what Ecco does consistently, check out this up-skirt shot:
There are plenty of Neapolitan”-style” classic pizzas which use the same dough and cooking method, but with more toppings than the AVPN-recognised cheese & tomato or just tomato (seriously guys, chill out) – and they no doubt bring in plenty of people who would otherwise go to the Dominos or Pizza Express that are both visible from Ecco’s front door – as well as an imaginative “Pizzas from Around the World” section which condenses entire countries’ cuisines and put them on top of a pizza pretty successfully as far as I tasted – the Mexico City is a hot, delicious mess of fajita chicken, jalapenos & guacamole and Marrakech’s combination of slow-roast spiced lamb, feta, pomegranate and peppers tastes like the poshest donner kebab you could imagine, without any of the shame.
If you really want to upset a purist, then you can also get smoked or vegan mozzarella, and gluten-free bases. To say that all of these optional extras bring diminishing returns sounds harsh, but it isn’t a criticism of them – they’re actually really very good – but a testament to how close to perfect Ecco get the basics. The AVPN might be controlling nerds, but they get results.
ps. I don’t usually do desserts but I’ve got a soft-spot for Gelato (by which I mean my stomach) – and the stuff they make in-house at Ecco is *prayer hands-emoji*