Opening a sourdough pizza place in Hackney is brave. The borough is home to a growing abundance of restaurants offering just that, including Sodo, Apollo and the seemingly unstoppable London chain Franco Manca. Yes, pizza with a light, thin, slightly sour base and few, but quality, ingredients, is right on trend.

So Sourdough Saloon, based in Lord Morpeth pub in Bow, is up against stiff competition. The pizza kitchen serves up a selection of sourdough pizzas every day for between £7 and £10. They certainly get the basics right. The base is satisfyingly thin and crispy and the taste lingers as a sourdough base should. The tomato sauce is used sparingly – which is all it needs because of its richness in flavour.

Choosing between the 15 options on the menu was tricky. The toppings were carefully matched and not excessive in quantity. Particularly appealing were the Siciliana – with mozzarella, black olives, anchovies, garlic oil and oregano – and the Mamma Mia, a classic combination of mozzarella, parma ham, rocket and shaved parmesan.

But as authentically Italian as the ingredients sounded, they were not of the quality we had hoped – indeed they were even a bit bland. We plumped for the Vegetarian and Sbagliate and the indulgent Morpeth. The grilled aubergine on the Sbagliate – which also came with mozzarella and basil – was so thin you wouldn’t know it was there and it was screaming out for a drizzle of olive oil prior to cooking.

We expected big things from the Morpeth pizza, given its namesake. It’s topped with Buffalo mozzarella, spicy salami, gorgonzola, roasted mixed peppers and rocket. But we detected hardly any gorgonzola, and little flavour beyond the salami, which was mildly spicy and nicely oily.

The experience was let down slightly by the finishing touches. Pizzas are served in cardboard boxes and without cutlery. Also missing were a few light nibbles or starters. Olives or some antipasti would complement the menu well and surely not create too much extra work for a pub kitchen. But the chilli oil and black pepper mill were a nice touch and the staff were a delight.

For pub grub, this is impressive stuff, but it’s no rival to bona fide sourdough restaurants.

Lord Morpeth,
402 Old Ford Road, E3 5NR

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