Tomatino’s, Thornton Heath by Paloma Lacy

Just occasionally, I feel as though I’m being listened to. I’ve taken the opportunity to bemoan the poor excuse for pizza offered up on most high streets several times in this column.

You know the sort? More American interpretation than authentic Italian. But thankfully these flavourless, cardboard discs are finally losing fans to the real thing.

I now have two pizza restaurants within walking distance from my house well worth a visit.

The first specialises in pizza cooked at the fair hand of Valentino, a native of Sorrento and dough master of 25 years standing, at Sorrento In in  He has quickly won local hearts in the 18 months he’s been trading. But there’s a new kid on the block, Tomatino’s, same sort of offering but this time following the trend for sourdough pizza.

The family-friendly atmosphere, exceptional prices and simple menu are proving a hit, but I suspect the weather may be leading residents to make the most of the home delivery contract the owner has recently signed with Uber Eats. Roll on spring when we’ll all be keener to venture out.

Surprisingly, low prices haven’t impacted on the choice of dishes available.

I’m unsure how the restaurant is managing to serve burata for just £4.25, but it was rather good. This rich full cream cheese is normally double the price at city centre eateries. My husband and I shared one of these, and a fried white bait and calamari combo, served with garlic mayonnaise.

The latter came served in two mini wire baskets, and I speedily claimed the calamari for myself. I’m not a fan of whitebait but my husband is, so everyone was happy.

You’ll find all your favourite pizza toppings, with the addition of a number of white pizzas (those without a tomato base), which strikes me as not really pizza but apparently very Italian all the same. I chose a Diavola – actually one of the more expensive ones at £8.50 – but still reasonably priced.

Tomato sauce, Pecorino Romano, spicy salami, onions, black olives and green chilli make a winning combination in my book, and one that I’m rarely able to deviate from.

Tomatino’s version didn’t disappoint. Worried it wouldn’t be hot enough, I asked for extra chilli and the manager suggested a chilli tomato base, on top of freshly sliced chilli, which I foolishly agreed to. It was hot with a capital ‘H’. I finished it but will go the ordinary tomato base route next time.

My husband opted for his classic all-time favourite, Napolitana – tomato sauce, Pecorino Romano, Mozzarella, anchovies, capers, olives and oregano (£7.50). His silence and an empty plate said it all. If you can’t find anything in the 15-strong range of pizzas, then build your own from the list of 30 additional toppings.

All desserts are home-made, including traditional tiramisu, which tasted wonderfully strongly of alcohol, despite being booze free, a selection of cakes and one for the kids, sweet pizza in the shape of Mickey Mouse.

Paloma was not a guest of Tomatino’s. 785-787 London Road, Thornton Heath, London, CR7 6AW. Tel: 0208 935 5932.

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