Quality imported ingredients make all the difference at Donna Margherita
Named in homage to the most famous of Italy’s pizzas, Donna Margherita has built up an impressive reputation of its own, with a loyal following throughout Battersea and beyond. The cosy restaurant on Lavender Hill prides itself on being the first in the UK to be recognised by the Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani, an organisation aimed at maintaining the highest standards of Neapolitan pizza making around the world. Needless to say, we wanted to find out more.
The menu is quite diverse with a variety of classic Italian dishes alongside a good range of pizzas. We started with a portion of the Garlic Spicy Bread which turned out to be some of the best we’ve had in a while. Thin and crispy with a pleasant heat that didn’t overpower the garlic and herb flavours, this was a perfect prequel to the main event.
Donna Margherita sources around 90% of its ingredients from southern Italy and this really shows in the toppings, where we were spoilt for choice. While we were keen to sample the restaurant’s take on the eponymous Margherita, we were hesitant about missing out on some of the other combinations. Luckily our dilemma was solved by the unconventionally-named Pizza Gay.
This is a pizza of two halves, with classic Margherita on one side and mozzarella, Parma ham, rocket, tomatoes and parmesan on the other. As it turned out we needn’t have worried as the Margherita was definitely the superior of the two, with bold, simple flavours reminding us why it’s such a favourite around the world.
We also ordered the Diavola (pictured) which featured thin, meaty slivers of Neapolitan salami with chilli on a tomato and mozzarella base. Our pizza turned out not to be as spicy as its name implied, though this might be welcome news for those who are normally turned off by the more fiery dishes on a menu. For those looking for a more serious kick, chilli oil is on hand to add some heat.
While the toppings were great, our pizzas were unfortunately let down by their base. The crust looked good but lacked crispiness on the underside and the cornicione was quite dense, with a bready quality that left us feeling a little bloated afterwards.
It may have been the case that we came on a bad day, but a quick search of online reviews suggests that this venerable pizzeria might be starting to lose its touch. Having said that, Donna Margherita has been around for a while and shouldn’t be ruled out just yet; the ingredients are still top-notch and a little more attention to the crust could see it firmly back in the premier league once more.
1 Garlic Spicy Bread
1 Pizza Gay
1 Pizza Diavola
2 San Pellegrino Limonata
183 Lavender Hill