Eat Here: Martello Hall, HackneyBy Iona Goulder
Martello Hall has recently re-opened its doors as an all-day and late night venue located in the heart of Hackney. Combining authentic Italian cooking with an in-house gin distillery, this new spot in hipster’s paradise feels right at home. The cooking is centred on natural fuel, with a wood oven and charcoal grill and everything on the menu is made from scratch, including their house gin.
In our fair capital, it’s a luxury to find a decent coffee shop open past 7pm, and one that provides good wifi (contrary to what the sticker says on the door). Unlike New York across the pond, London painfully lacks any cafes, bars and restaurants with a slow day-to-night vibe. Martello Hall is the kind of place London needs – a place to bring your laptop to do some work, a hangout to come for coffee with friends, comfy seatings to read your book, and bar for post-work cocktails, and most importantly, a place to eat.
If you’ve become tired of nursing a badly made coffee for the whole morning down at your local coffee shop – Martello Hall is the freelancers dream, with the first floor created specially for hot-desking. Gone are the days of moving around coffee shops and endless Starbucks, trying to find a decent internet signal. You’ll be pleased to hear that Martello Hall is home to strong wifi signal and mega flat whites. It’s the small victories in life. FYI – you can purchase a day pass for £10 which will give you access to bottomless coffee and use of the upstairs cocktail lounge for hot-desking.
The space is large, and you can easily spend hours hanging out in various corners, as we did. After you’ve had your fill of work emails upstairs (or cats do the funniest things videos), make your way downstairs for their speciality: pizza. The place feels dynamic without being too loud about it – it’s industrial, vibe-y and there’s a real New York loft feel about it.
This restaurant sells itself short by calling itself a cocktail bar and pizza place – Martello Hall is so much more.
Martello Hall: What to Eat
The wood oven pizzas are far better than your standard Pizza Express jobby – with a plethora of unusual toppings like Martello hot honey, hazelnuts, lemon and speck.
What to eat. What to eat. Well, try the Rock Star Margherita. They say a pizzeria is only as good as its Margherita, and this did not disappoint. The crispy base had been generously covered in roast tomatoes, rocket and salsa verde, and the creamiest mozarella and stracciatella. For something deliciously different, opt for the Phoenix pizza – a medley of parmesan, pecorino, red and spring onions, rosemary and a sprinkling of toasted pistachios for extra crunch.
The Number 7 pizza is also worthy of a mention – roast squash and beetroot, ricotta, hazelnuts, beetroot pesto, mint and kale. And at £9 for the whole pizza, you certainly get more base for your British buck.
But it’s not just pizzas that Martello Hall whip up – sharing plates are in abundance. We’re talking about fried buttermilk chicken with watermelon – the balance of crispy skin and tender chicken is just right, and the added mustard and jalapeños adds a welcoming kick to the dish. The mini parmesan fonduta and toast is everything you could hope for in melted cheese and carbs. The merguez and aubergine Scotch egg with rose harissa yoghurt is ludicrously good, and we won’t judge if you order another.
For pudding, all you need to know about it the ricotta and hazelnut dough. A fluffy base slathered in ricotta and studded with hazelnuts to create nothing short of a sweet treat miracle. A sort of homemade Nutella pizza if you will.
Martello Hall: What to Drink
Come thirsty, because Martello Hall is a treasure trove of gin based cocktails, and other liquid delights. There are some pretty tasty cocktails on the menu but the one to try is the Martello Gin. The cocktail mixolgists whip up your order in front of you and Nicola (that’s the name of their still, not a gin bearing woman).
If you’re in the mood for some vino, they have twelve beautiful wines picked by expert Zeren Wilson on tap. It’s apparently better for the environment and means each glass of wine is fresher. And for the bubble brigade, there’s bottles of sparkling wine available.
Martello Hall: The Verdict
Gin and pizza is a match made in Hackney heaven. Even if you’re not in the East London area, we suggest a trip to seek out this new hangout. Thanks us later.