Review: 30 Years of Eco Clapham

Review: 30 Years of Eco Clapham

Local Italian eatery celebrates its birthday

By Tara Robinson

This October, Eco Clapham celebrated 30 years as one of London’s first authentic pizzerias. Opened in 1993, the family-run eatery – named after Umberto Eco – has become a local neighbourhood favourite. The founder, Sami Wasif, was one of the first to bring sourdough pizza to the UK, and he still uses the same authentic recipe he brought over all those years ago.

Sami is dedicated to pizza. In his own words, “When I moved to London from Egypt in 1976, I didn’t speak a word of English, however I knew I had come to fulfil a very important purpose.” Sami comes from a “strong family based culture and heritage with sharing food together as being critical to our community” and carrying this ethos into his business has made Eco a staple of Clapham for three decades now.

Of course, I had to see what all the fuss was about.

We started off the evening with an order of cocktails. I ordered a Limoncello Kiss – a sinfully sweet blend of vodka, limoncello and pear juice. A delicious way to start off the night. My companion opted for a classic Margarita.

Starters arrived in the form of a basket of King Prawns deep fried in sourdough batter, served alongside tartar sauce, and a wood-fired melted cheese pizza bread. We wrongfully assumed the pizza bread would come in the size of a traditional side – imagine our surprise when it came as a whole pizza! Thinking about the next course of entire pizzas each we were about to consume, my companion and I exchanged nervous glances.

All reservations flew out the window, however, when we began to dig in. It quickly became clear that whatever fullness we might anticipate was going to be overrided by the deliciousness of our meal. The deep fried prawns were melt-in-your-mouth succulent, and came with a wedge of lemon to sprinkle atop. The cheesy pizza bread gave us the first taste of the sourdough recipe that Eco is so famous for. I was not disappointed. The sourdough crust was unbelievably soft, not too sour, but pillowy and divine.

Next was the moment we had been waiting for: the main course. I had ordered a smoked aubergine and burrata pizza with baked garlic and basil pesto. The crust was even softer and more delicious than the cheesy pizza bread, the smoky aubergine pairing scrumptiously well with the creamy burrata. It’s clear Eco knows exactly how to do pizza, and they’ve only perfected the art over their 30 years.

We finished off the evening with complementary Limoncello shots and a shared tiramisu, made with Savoiardi biscuit, espresso, mascarpone, grated white and dark chocolate, egg and marsala wine. We left feeling stuffed, happy and content.

Happy birthday, Eco.