Review of Luppolo, Wanstead

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sukibigWansteadium’s food blogger Suki Orange writes:
I’m not the kind of person who goes on and on relentlessly about the same old issues, month after month and year after year. I can’t bear people like that. I mean why can’t they just make their point, get over it, and move on.

I mean no one cares about hedgehogs, OK? No one. Move on. What people care about is pizza, that much is clear. And I know this is true because ever since I first made the point on this blog some years ago that what Wanstead really needed was a cheap and cheerful pizza place where you could take the family, people have been agreeing with me. There’s a difference between having a hobby horse (hedgehogs) and reiterating a point well made (the need for pizza in Wanstead).

So, on one of those post-Yule days when all the Oranges had had quite enough of the turkey and ham, we went to Wanstead’s newest re-tread restaurant, Luppolo. It’s Italian for hops, you know, which is presumably an attempt to cunningly combine the twin attractions of this latest occupant of the former Bar Room Bar: craft beer and the aforementioned margheritas. So, friends, has it happened? Do we have pizza?

I’m delighted to report that, yes, I think we might. I was never one for Bar Room Bar – too much on the Carling/Carlsberg axis for my liking. And I’ve never liked televisions in pubs – even if it’s the world’s dullest programme (and it clearly often is), TV screens have a way of becoming the default option for people’s attention. And that’s just not right – what did the good Lord give us iPhones for?

IMG_5889So at Luppolo the TVs are now out. In are some modest renovations which include a few nods towards Shoreditch with quaint tilework and creative lighting, almost completely changing the atmosphere. Looking in from the High Street at the gathered groups, one could be looking into a hip canteen, complete with communal tables and nicely shabby leather and metal chairs. The low-ish 1970s flat ceiling has been covered with the kind of “very old ceiling only recently uncovered” wallpaper which I believe you can buy in the Orange Tree.

It was clear on the day of our visit that the pizza/beer dichotomy could be the subject of some continued angst for the new owners – on one side of the restaurant a big family group with many youngsters happily ate together. On the other side a stag night was getting under way. Can Luppolo be a natural home for both?

It may be possible, but not for my money without something being done about the acoustics. It’s too loud in there. The low ceilings, trendy or not, bounce the sound around like a game of Pong.

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The open fire pizza oven is a welcome sight on a chilly evening, and the efforts they are making to show that they are serious about their business. Bags of Italian flour are on show and are presumably used for the dough which they say they make on site every morning. The pizzas themselves were good and very reasonably priced (from £6.95 to £11.50). They had thin bases, freshly made tomato sauce, and a good range of toppings – though I was bewildered to see baby octopus with mussels, squid and tiger prawns. If it had had jellied eels it could have been a Deconstructed East End Pizza. It’s good too to offer a children’s pizza, but they are really only big enough to satisfy toddlers. Anyone over five will probably need an adult pizza.

So I’m quietly satisfied by the experience. I suspect South Woodford’s Pizza Express might notice.

22 thoughts on “Review of Luppolo, Wanstead”

  1. I’m italian and I’ve tried luppolo last week. The pizza wasn’t too bad (5 out of 10), but the music was too loud (and crappy essex radio). If I wanna a pizza I still go to Bella Naples, the one near the cinema in south woodford.

    1. Agree Bella Napoli has the best pizzas. However it’s a small space so it’s good to have a larger place. Not been yet but sounds like they need to sort accoustics out or just turn off music. I hate loud restaurants where I can’t follow the conversation.

  2. we went on New Year’s Day and loved it! It’s rare to get such yummy pizzas with a Gluten Free option! Pizza express gluten free bases are tiny (child portion only) and not as crisp or nice as at Luppolo’s. The only other option for us caeliacs is Dominos – and they are not worth a mention!

    Luppolo’s also has great local craft beers including the Crate and my favourite, Hawks ginger beer which is only available in the Larder

    We will definitely be going back and asking our friends to join us. For me, a great lover of local restaurants and shops in Wanstead, it’s a great addition and will hopefully add tithe competition of bars and Italian restaurants.

    1. Yey I ve been waiting to do review Luppolo too. We went earlier this week… Great concept, and agree about the sound aspect and maybe we were too early as it was cold in there – perhaps oven wasn’t on long enough..
      Pizzas were yummy and will give piccolo or whatever it’s called a run for quality. They need to improve waitressing staff… Grumpy was not in it… Madam was not in the best of moods and was sharing it with all the patrons. Still we shall return as it’s nice to have a decent pizza in walking distance with no tv

  3. Dontchajusthateit when sock puppet friends of the proprietor post positive comments. This interweb will never catch on at this rate…

  4. Went there on the second day. Pizzas great. Drinks pitched at Shoreditch prices. Kids lemonade extortionate at£3.50 a glass. Atmosphere a little frosty in terms of welcome but early days and will go again.

  5. Good pizza, awkward staff. Not bad servise, not miserable, just unhelpful.

    Hopefully some training or experience will help.

    Worth going back to.

  6. A group of 7 of us went on Christmas Eve, nice food, shocking service. We waited 30 min’s in a not too busy pizzeria, were given cutlery for 3 and then the food came out at greatly different stages. We will try it again in a month or so as we like to support local independents and see if the service has improved.

  7. I’m surprised at some of the negative comments on here. I’ve eaten there twice now (admittedly in the day, with kids), and thought the pizza was exceptionally good, generously sized – and cheap. I also think they’ve got the Shoreditchy industrial decor right, especially give the space they have – unlike the woeful Manor House, whose decor is shamefully bad. Like it or not, Wanstead desperately needs somewhere else to cater for the ‘Larder crowd’ and people with children for daytime/early evening dining, and I hope this is it. Mainly though I just hope people in general use it and support it rather than sneer. I think one problem Wanstead has is that people who live here don’t always support local places and automatically look further afield for ‘cooler places’, creating a vicious circle, perhaps this will change that. Apparently it’s owned by the guy behind the Lauriston in Victoria Park, which is surely good news for Wanstead. I also found the service fine, not particularly frosty, I am sure they are still finding their feet. I hope they fix the sticky door though for families with buggies!

    1. Everyone here has used it. Pretty much everyone said they’ll go again. Hopefully the owners will read the consistent comments re service and sort it out as it is an issue. This will improve it for everyone.

      Where’s the problem in any of that?

  8. They’ve made a good effort but it is loud and cold in there. The pizza toppings are uninspired and there are too few to choose from. Am hoping these are just a teething issue though so will give it another try.

  9. I agree with the other comments here. We went for lunch the first day they were open (the day after their launch party) but you would have thought they were closing down from the level of service. The restaurant was virtually empty but we went unacknowledged for a long time. Big gaps between being shown to table, menus arriving etc. After 10 mins we were asked if we wanted a drink but no one had given us a drinks list. During the meal I heard the waitress tell other diners they were only taking cash (machine not working so I’d guess not their fault) but she didn’t tell us so at the end I had to say: “Is that right that it’s cash only?” I then went out to get cash. So they really need to improve service. The pizzas were pretty decent. Better than Piccolo (due to the proper oven) but not as good as Bella Naples. Drinks are pricy and, yes, it was cold. Music was a bit loud. I’ll go back but not as quickly as I expected to.

  10. Crap service easier to fix than crap pizza or crap beer, so I expect it will be a winner.

    I enjoyed my visit.

    Meanwhile; lots of first ever review tripadvisor’ers extolling the virtues of Longhorn, lol.

    1. Well all I can think is that all of a sudden Longhorn’s ‘friends’ have joined TripAdvisor – spooky. Good to hear that majority of comments have only complained about the service at Luppolo – they should be able to remedy that quickly.

  11. Been here 3 times since its revamp – twice for drinks and once for food and have to echo the appalling level of service and general disinterest by the staff, which leads to a very flat awkward atmosphere to the place. Very much would like this place to succeed as it could be a great concept – but with an uninspiring menu and even worse service it will require a considerable improvement to be a hit

  12. Unfortunatly I cannot review the food. We did not get that far. We entered full of hope of trying the new pizza place. However, we got through the door and stood there looking for someone to either seat us or let us know its ok to choose our own seats. There was a young lady and a guy waiting on probally three tables. Place was empty. We stood there in the entrance, trying to make eye contact or to get some sort of welcome or an acknowledgement that we will be helped/served. The young lady looked me straight in the eyes, but continued to behind the bar where she took a sip of a a glass of water/drink. It was then after like 5 very confused and awkward moments when we decided to rather leave. The place felt cold and had no atmosphere. Went to our fav italian across the road instead.

  13. I was really excited at a pizza place arriving in Wanstead so the wife and I called in last week for a late drink and a bit of a reccy. It was a couple of days after Christmas so it was empty, save for a group of very young-looking people at the end of the bar who we worked out were on & off duty staff.

    Two guys came in and ordered pizzas so we watched with interest as the food was served. As the chef plated up, he picked a bit of something off the first pizza. A rogue topping perhaps; nice attention to detail I thought. He ate it. Not believing what I’d just seen, I mentioned it to the wife who turned around just in time to see him picking something off the second pizza and eating that as well.

    A few people on here have already mentioned the service; the two staff members who were on shift were certainly industrious but were chatting to the off-duty staff and there were dirty tables and crap on the floor. There was a third staff member on duty who we reckoned was the manager, but he was focussing all his energy on his pint and his mobile, and when we decided to drink our drinks at the bar he went and stood over by the kitchen area and continued drinking and texting from there.

    We’ll definitely be back to try the food and, missing toppings aside, the pizzas did look good. But while it’s early days the management/owners should be making sure everything runs smoothly and a high standard is set. We need more quality restaurants along the high street and I reckon it’s imperative to get the locals on side in the first few months. I really hope they succeed.

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