I was sat outside ‘O Ver for about three months before I noticed it was there. It happens to be next door to the Guild of Fine Food; a place that I occasionally ‘work’ at, if you could ever call eating for six hours a day work. You can’t enter the building early, so we all tend to congregate on the stone seats outside having a chat about how hungover we are, or where we’ve travelled from, or been to, and the general half-arsed whinge about eating non-stop. Working at The Guild (repeat, it is not work) is interesting. You sit in pairs or thrupples and eat and bloody eat, offering your opinion to your table on what you think about that item. Your stomach hates you by the end of the day, almost as much as the friends who have been doing proper work. It simply isn’t ready for olive oils, followed by brownies, then sausage, maybe a kombucha or three, some meats, possibly a rib of beef, more olive oil, honey, so much honey, cakes! a ready meal or ten, fancy peppers and flavoured salts, a whole smoked salmon, how about some sardines, more honey and extra virgin olive oils, and granola to finish before you roll out of the door and down the hill to London Bridge underground. Like I say, it’s not work. I bloody love being there. The people you meet are life changing.
So yeah, ‘O Ver. I sit outside the place with no idea it exists, oblivious to the fact that it is presently listed as the 21st best pizzeria in Europe. I was oblivious until a nice man who has the Instagram account ‘Bite Twice Pizza Reviews’ who said it was the best in London. I’ll check it out, I typed my response whilst sitting outside of it, and then made plans to go for dinner with Katherine Blakemore, a fellow judge at The Guild and one of the most interesting people I have ever met. Katherine asked where it was. It’s next door, I said, pleased that I am not the only one missing out on the big sign with ”O Ver’ written on it. I’m ‘O ver it now.
We do dinner, but not before we do wine across the road and pisco sours a few doors down. Bottle of pet nat and a large glass of red during dinner and I get the train back to Brum quite pissed. Street food snacky things to kick off, notionally Naples but in reality, anywhere south of there. Deep fried courgette flowers stuffed with cheese and anchovy, almost as good as the mini calzone stuffed to the brim with provolo cheese and offal -strong ‘nduja. Arancini has the whiff of summer truffle without the intense fake aroma of truffle oil, and a croquette of mashed potato which tastes of little, to be dunked into a tomato sauce lacking any noticeable seasoning. A good, if mostly unremarkable start. It improves, vastly, with triangles of flatbread, the most perfect of burrata, leaves, and tomatoes in that day from the south of Italy. Complete simplicity, using only the best in ingredients.
The pizza though. It’s the best I’ve eaten in this country, maybe anywhere. The spiel they push is using sea water in the dough, and although I can’t vouch for that being the key, there is a pleasing lightness to it all. Thick-set crusts, puffed and charred and pleasingly sloppy in the centre. It is the real deal. On that night we have the five-cheese pizza, each cheese fighting for its own spot, so that each mouthful is a different pop of creamy, occasionally umami heaven. Katherine picks up the bill. I don’t think it’s cheap.
Two days later I’m back at lunch, It’s arguably better than the first time, even with the £37 bill for a singular pizza and small glass of wine. Same blistered bread as before, this time with a more traditional tomato sauce and mozzarella spine. Salami, ‘nduja, and basil; as simple and as tasty as anywhere in the Borough region. I can see it being a regular when I’m in London, and I’m ‘O Ver the moon about that.