“Pizza like it oughta be” (*pronouned in thick Brooklyn accent*). This is the premise of London’s first NY Fold, which can be found on Charing Cross. Tasting Britain’s Jack and Dom followed the trail of raving Trip Advisor reviews down and were not disappointed
New York style pizza pie
In a Word
If you’re looking for a nice restaurant in a romantic setting, then this probably isn’t for you – I would say NY Fold is better for a quick lunch in the afternoon. And if you’re fortunate enough to have the money to live in Soho, then I would definitely recommend ordering home-delivery from them.
Aside from that, this is definitely for all and sundry. Unless you hate pizza, of course – in which case I wouldn’t recommend it.
London, London! It’s a helluva town!
Hmmmm… Even with all of its charm, I just can’t picture Gene Kelly running through Piccadilly Circus singing “London, London!”; even “Springfield, Springfield!” had more of a ring to it. Why is there such a difference? Discuss.
Setting aside musical theatre for a minute, let’s talk about NY Fold. Located on the Charing Cross Road (only a five minute walk north of Leicester Square), NY Fold is very much in the centre of things. With all of the life and atmosphere of the west end theatres – and Soho only seconds away – NY Fold looks as though it’s been there for years, and not looking at all out of place in the hustle and bustle of its British cousin.
NY Fold is the brainchild of Michael and Annabel Wheeler, who since moving to London missed the pleasure of having an authentic New York slice. Trying to think of a way to bring this to over to our little island, they decided to pair up with friend and now business partner, Bruno Di Fabio. Being a six-time world pizza champion, and owner of ten independent pizza restaurants himself, Bruno brings his own New York slice recipe to Laaannddaaan.
Now before we dive straight into it, I’m going to admit that I was pretty excited about this one. In preparation for the day Kirsty Young invites me to her new show, Desert Island Dishes (don’t forget who gave you the idea, Kirsty), I had a think about my top 5 meals – pizza is definitely in my top 5. I’ve mentioned this to friends in the past with varying responses – albeit the majority being “lolwut!?” But I would say, in all honesty, that when prepared properly (and I don’t mean you, Pizza Hut), pizza is pretty incredible. With all of the varying flavours and textures, it makes for an incredible eating experience. And on that note, GET IN MY BELLY.
Environment and Decor
How would I describe the decor? I guess the overall theme is urban. All of the wallpaper has pictures of New York apartment blocks, steel fire escapes and a skyscraper in the distance – which I initially thought was the Flatiron Building, but clearly different on a closer inspection. Contributing to this urban feel, the lighting is mainly hanging filament lamps, and most of the tables in the bar area look like steel beams. The restaurant also has a consistent colour theme of yellow and black throughout, which is synonymous with New York’s classic yellow cab.
In terms of seating arrangement, you either have the bar area at the front of the restaurant where you can share with other diners, or if you’re looking for something more intimate, then they also have tables and chairs at the back. As I said, this probably isn’t ideal if you’re looking for an intimate setting, but it’s a nice place to go for lunch, and great if you’re with a big group of friends.
The drinks menu is pretty good considering NY Fold is a high-end pizza joint for all intents and purposes – much in the same way that Five Guys is a Michelin star restaurant of the burger world. You have a nice selection of wines which you can purchase either by the glass or the bottle, and all at a fantastic price – the most expensive bottle is only £23. You would certainly be pushed to find anything that cheap at Quo Vadis which is only five minutes down the road!
NY Fold also has a great selection of craft beers and ciders on offer, with a few bottles from the big names like Camden Town, Beavertown, Brooklyn Brewery, etc – I was also quite pleased to see Cornish Orchard and felt very at home. You can take the boy out of Cornwall…
As I was on wine for most of the evening, I can’t comment on the beers, but Jack had a bottle of Brooklyn Brown Ale which he’s be keen to try for a while now – needless to say, he was a very happy chappy.
So when it comes to the food, you certainly aren’t limited to pizza. NY Fold has a range of pasta options such as lasagne, pasta and meatballs, etc – although they do have something called penne vodka which sounds lethal. They also have salads, soups and hot sandwiches on offer.
But c’mon now, let’s get down to business and talk pizza, duuuude – that was my attempt at Brooklyn accent if you didn’t notice. You basically have three options: a slice, two slices or a whole 16″ pizza to share – and the portions are sizable to say the least. Jack and I managed three slices each as a taster and that was more than enough. I’d say if you were in a group then a whole pizza would probably make more sense.
The prices are very reasonable for the quality of the food as well: individual slices for £3.95, two slices for £7.50 and a whole pizza for £19.95; the average prices for the other main courses are roughly £8 per dish. Well, NY Fold is ticking all of the boxes at the moment, but can they live up to the expectations? Ah, my favourite part… LET’S EAT.
The Butcher Shoppe
This is about as New York as you can get: bacon, pepperoni, sliced meatballs, sausage, ham and mozzarella – I think the pigs got a really bad deal here? Oh well, pig murder aside (would that be onikocide?), the Butcher Shoppe has a lot of smoky flavours, but balanced with a fresh mixture 0f herbs on top. What’s really interesting as well is that it doesn’t feel stodgy when you’re eating it. With most of the fast-food pizzas, it always feels like you’re chewing greasy bread, but this has a wonderful bite to it.
The Pitt Master + Grandma’s Pie
Realising how big the portions are, our host decided to give us half slices for the rest of the taster menu, followed by an audible sigh of relief from Jack and myself (we’re already pretty full by this point). The Pitt Master (left in picture) is very much American barbeque on a pizza base – pulled pork, barbecue sauce, etc. At this point our host really shows off his knowledge of the menu and recommends drizzling chilli oil over the top – without it, it would have probably been too sweet, but it cuts through perfectly and brings out the rest of the flavours. I wouldn’t say there was anything amazingly special about Grandma’s Pie (sorry, Nana), but still nice nevertheless.
Next on the list, we’re going back to the basics and having a margherita. NY Fold believe in getting the fundamentals right first – and with that in mind, claim that they’re pizza is superior for three reasons:
- their two-part fermentation process (lasting 48 hours in total) supposedly creates a crispier and lighter base
- a home-made tomato sauce recipe, with a mixture of herbs and spices packed full of flavour
- and a 60-day aged mozzarella harvested daily from an award-winning farm in Caserta, Italy
Whether any of that is true or not I don’t know, but I will say that even with something as simple as the margherita, NY Fold seem pull it off perfectly.
I read the this on the menu and thought, “hmmm… kind of like arancini but with lasagne instead of araborio” – our host disputes this says that it’s very different to arancini. The plate arrives, we cut into it, and it’s arancini with lasagne. The flavours are lovely but this is far too hearty for me, personally – normal arancini is quite stodgy anyway, so this just feels over the top.
For dessert, we first get Budino which is an Italian custard dessert, but this version also has a layer of butterscotch and a biscuit base. My only criticism here is that the butterscotch is very thick and chewy, and actually quite hard to cut into with a spoon. We scooped up the entire layer in one go because of how thick it was (playing with our food = fine examples of adults). Everything else is nice, but the butterscotch was too much.
Now this is a great tiramisu. A strong hit of coffee, soft sponge (although the menu says “soaked cookie” which is interesting) and a sweet cream to complement the bitterness of the coffee. It also comes in a little plastic cup which I assume is for the purpose of takeaway. And then hits me – I can now have tiramisu on-the-go… Dominic likes this.
New York Cheese Cake
I suppose a New York cheesecake is just a given at any New York themed restaurant, right? As for the cheesecake itself, it’s the not best I’ve ever had, but it’s still a very nice dessert with a wonderfully piqaunt strawberry sauce to accompany it. Another thumbs up from me.
NY Fold had a lot to live up to based on some of the claims from their website, as well as the multitude of amazing Trip Advisor reviews – they certainly didn’t disappoint either. This really is a little gem to keep in mind if you’re ever in the Soho area and looking for a quick bite to eat.
The food and drink selection is great, the quality unquestionable and, overall, a great atmosphere to be in – I’ll certainly be returning to in the very near future.
And all I can say now is best of luck to Pizza Hut, Dominoes and Papa John’s – they’re gonna need it now that NY Fold is in the picture!
103 Charing Cross Road