Peter Morrell has a happy reminder of his youth at this eatery which specialises in Chicago Style Deep Dish pizzas and fully loaded waffles
In the 1980s one of my favourite haunts was a restaurant called the Chicago Pizza Pie Factory in Hanover Square. The tragic death of Bob Payton, the restaurant’s owner and a change of fashion to Italian style thin crust pizzas saw its demise.
Well the great news is that Chicago Deep Pie pizzas are back in London and to be more precise at Japes restaurant on Dean Street in Soho. After a gap of nearly 35 years would I still find this unique style of pizza as enjoyable? There was only one way to find out – eat at the restaurant.
Japes is the first venture for young couple Aleksandar and Jovana, who met when Aleksandar was competing in the Canoe Sprint at the 2012 Olympic Games. They have created big, bold upbeat dining space that has the same energy that was around in the 80s. The décor featuring comfortable velvet chairs, designer lights and greenery hanging from the ceiling make it the ideal place to eat and relax.
The food menu is simple, there are deep pan pizzas, pizza pot pies, salads, waffles and ice cream. The pizza pot pies are made by putting the toppings in a dish first then covering it with dough. When it’s served it’s flipped upside down, and the dish is removed leaving a lavishly filled pie.
If you are feeling less hungry then either the Caesar or Veggie salad would be ideal.
My dining companion and I stuck to the deep dish pizzas, there are seven choices and one is vegetarian. My friend chose the Piccante filled with salsiccia, peppers, nduja, mozzarella, parmesan and tomato sauce and I went with Chicago which was stuffed with pepperoni, mozzarella, parmesan and tomato sauce.
When the pizzas arrived they looked both spectacular and delicious. This is a totally different species of pizza to a thin crust which has a slick of tomato sauce and not much topping. The deep crust stands about 5cm high and is brimming with ingredients. Another notable feature is that the dough is crispy and chewy, you don’t need a steak knife to cut it.
My friend’s pizza was excellent with just the right amount of spicy kick to it particularly from the nduja, an increasingly popular spreading salami. My Chicago was equally enjoyable with generous amounts of pepperoni and mozarella.
My friend and I are both over 6 feet tall and with hearty appetites, but the pizzas were so filling even we slowed up towards the end. We both agreed after finishing that they were deeply satisfying.
The drinks menu is extensive, there’s a great selection of cocktails, alcoholic ice cream shakes, wines and beers. My companion had a very classy chablis, the Domaine Colette Gros which was served by the glass, I drank a citrussy East Coast American style IPA beer.
No matter how full we were we couldn’t leave without trying the waffles. My friend’s choice was the Jaffana. Sat atop two fresh waffles were Japes orange milk chocolate, fresh strawberries, banana, kiwi, Japes strawberry ice cream and covered with ground cookies. My dessert was Monkey Peanuts – Japes peanuts milk chocolate, fresh red berries, Japes vanilla ice cream with a sprinkling of ground cookies.
Both of these dishes looked so appetising when they arrived, and they tasted even better. They were indulgent but unmissable particularly the large scoop of home-made ice cream.
So the big question, was it worth the 35 year wait for a new Chicago Deep Pan Pizza restaurant to arrive in London? My unequivocal answer is a resounding yes. I thought the pizza at Japes was better and I liked the light and bright feel of the restaurant. The other notable difference was that I think the servers were chosen for their abruptness in the 1980s whereas the staff at Japes were absolutely charming.
In summary an excellent new addition to London’s vibrant culinary scene. A quick tip, if you are visiting in the evening or at the weekends it’s advisable to book.
22-25 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 3RY
Call 07395 635765 or mail firstname.lastname@example.org