It almost didn't want to be found. With no signboard in place, Story Deli along Redchurch Street looks as if it doesn't want to be found. I wouldn't be surprised to be frank. It there's anymore publicity, the place would probably be mobbed. With just two large communal tables (seating 20 max), I don't think it can cope.
I received a text from Wife on my way back from work the other day. With a flick of my thumb across the phone's screen, my route was diverted to Shoreditch High Street instead. I've never been Redchurch Street before even though it's mere steps from Pizza East. I had the good fortune of choosing to cut through Chance Street instead and stumbled into a group of shutterbugs clicking away at the giant rat graffiti.
The fact that you can walk pass Story Deli just like that makes finding it all the more satisfying. What I thought was a hanging wire at where the signboard is meant to be, remnants of unfinished lighting, turned out a branch - it might even be real. A sample pizza was set by the window and that was it.
Story Deli doesn't take card payments. I had to make a dash to the nearby cash machine at Tesco under the drizzle for the £16 pizza (same price for all pizzas). The staff made sure I came back with the cash before stretching the dough. As a result, I got to witness how the ultra thin pizza was made.
A pre-made dough (totally yeast free I was told) was pressed so thin that the prata man back home would hang his head in shame. After the ingredients were sprinkled on the thin dough, it was shoved unceremoniously into a wide oven. A conventional one, not the fancy fire oven. There the dough laid for under a minute before being yanked out back onto the table, set for another minute and pushed back into the oven for another minute. The whole process was over under five minutes.
The result was a thin crispy pizza, ever so slightly burnt with generously ingredients towards the centre. Cheese shavings adorned the surface. Those would be eventually soften by the heat. Finally, a bunch of rocket was laid on the side, uncut, with a few strands of pepper on them. Very earthly indeed.
The manager told me that everything in the restaurant is organic. "Even the cola," she said. Apparently, Story Deli has moved from Brink Lane to Redchurch Street in November 2011. They're going to move again in January 2013. This time to "further up along Bethnal Green".
Some things just aren't make for takeaway, Story Deli's pizzas being one of them. It didn't help that I used the box in a futile attempt to shelter myself from the increasingly persistent drizzle. My pathetic attempt on a healthy diet backfired - chicken (especially breast meat) just doesn't taste good on pizzas.
Dessert was mixed berry cheesecake (£4) - berries though muted still cut through the cheese
Determined to have it fresh, Wife and I promptly went back to Story Deli for lunch the very next day. The aubergine, Parma ham and goats cheese pizza didn't disappoint. The basil pesto dripped on the edges sealed the deal.
One word of advice: ditch those fork and knives. Use your fingers to break off the pizza bit by bit. Otherwise you'd end up having to look for a spoon to scoop the bits up instead.
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Neige d’Ete – Feb 2017
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