Bermondsey’s burgeoning reputation as a foodie paradise is only enhanced by the sensational Pizarro.
Sometimes, the old ways are the best. Flying in the face of restaurants dabbling in highly experimental flavour combinations, Bermondsey’s Pizarro is proudly level-headed, delivering contemporary Spanish cooking in a charming setting. Head chef José Pizarro took his inspiration from his grandfather’s bar in southwestern Spain, banking that Iberian cuisine done right would draw in the punters. Based on our night there, he’s nailed it.
As with any Spanish restaurant worth its salt, Pizarro delivers on the tapas. Except here, they’re called pica pica, which loosely translates as “a desire to come back for more”. A bold claim, but Pizarro delivers pretty nicely on this. Ravishingly good croquetas and pan con tomate was married to the playful Bermondsey Bomba, a huge crispy ball of potato, tomatoes, and spiced mince beef. A cheeky diversion to the starters menu proved a winner, with grilled English asparagus given an Iberian twist by machego cheese and romesco sauce.
So far, so good. But where Pizarro really gets a hold of you is the mains – specifically, the Presa Ibérica. At £15 per 100g, it doesn’t come cheap, but when it does come, it is utterly unforgettable. For those whose Spanish is decidedly rusty, Presa Ibérica is 100% acorn fed Iberico pork, served medium rare with potatoes, padron peppers, and a sprinkling of salt. It is an absolute joy, and the phrase “melts in your mouth” has literally never been more applicable.
We were raving by the time we’d finished, so much so that our lovely waitress had to remind us of the existence of dessert. Very good thing she did, too. We got two (#cheatday), and halfway through finishing them, I had to break it to my girlfriend that “if I leave you, it’s going to be for one of these desserts”. Hey, forewarned is forearmed! The desserts in question were unfairly good; the leche frita, a cold milk pudding which is then crumbed and fried, was beautiful when topped with cinnamon, honey, and pine nut ice cream.
Meanwhile, the chocolate pot, drizzled with olive oil and flakes of sea salt, is exactly the kind of dessert that should be too rich and indulgent, but instead hovered nicely around the ‘contented ecstasy’ mark. Especially when paired with a gorgeous dessert wine (the name of which I forget, due to said ecstasy).
Oh, and if you aren’t waddling after all that, you can head up the street to José, the tapas and wine bar also run by Pizarro. A true taste of Spain, and you don’t even have to leave Zone 1. ¡Guapa!
Location: 194 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ. Nearest stations are London Bridge and Bermondsey. See it on Google Maps.
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday, 12-22:45pm, Sunday is 12-21:45pm.
Price: Pica pica ranges in price from £3-14, starters begin at £8. Mains start at £16, whilst the Presa Ibérica is priced by weight. Desserts begin from £3.50, and can be paired with wines for an extra fee.
More information: head to their website.
Pizarro aside, there are many brilliant reasons to head to Bermondsey – check ’em out here!
Featured image: @josepizarrorestaurants
Also published on Medium.