The Big Red Pizza Bus – Double-Decker Dining in London

The Bus versus The Tube?

It took me several years of London life (and the skint phase of studenthood) to discover the hidden perks of the red London bus. Slow, stop-start and smelly? On occasion. But also less crowded, cheaper and if you get your foot in the door fast enough to bag the window seat, you may even see some of the city. The tube is for novices and commuters (and latecomers like myself) but the bus? The bus is for champs. And all the better if it happens to serve Italian pizzas, cocktails and the first knickerbocker glory I’ve had in 15 years.Big Red Pizza Bus Restaurant Deptford LondonWhen Pumpkin and I first met, numerous dates began and ended at various London bus stops – you may sneer at how wholly un-romantic this sounds but never ones to splash the cash on mundane things, the London bus now holds a special place in our hearts.Big Red Pizza Bus London

The Big Red Pizzeria, Deptford

When fabulous London food blogger, Inher30s invited me to join her on a blogger evening at The Big Red Pizzeria – a seriously cool establishment on a stationary red bus in the offbeat and arty neighbourhood of Deptford, South East London, I accepted faster than you could say the word Routemaster.

Upon arrival, you can opt to either sit inside the bus itself or you can gleefully face it, like we did. The lighting is dim and any apprehension regarding pretence, gimmickiness (is that a word?) or it being too staged are rapidly allayed when we walk in and see rows of pinned pictures of London buses drawn by local children, as we are welcomed with a good array of cocktails and mocktails (their Virgin Mojito was so zingy and refreshing but not nearly as pretty as the Kir Royale being drunk by fellow bloggers). First impressions? There is a sincerity and warmth to this establishment. It is family friendly and it is cool but clearly not too cool for school.

Well-fed is not the word to describe how things were to unfold over the next couple of hours. With an array of sample dishes from both their lunch and dinner menus, the feast commenced with grilled chicken skewers served with lemon and rosemary – these were so light and perfect for spring with a burst of citrus tang but I just loved the Caponata (roasted aubergine with herbs and spices), which took me back to my first night in Rio, where I first tried this dish.

Lentils aren’t normally my thing but I took a couple of generous spoonfuls to throw in a dose of “health” to the proceedings and must admit, I was pleasantly surprised. The beetroot salad was also strangely moreish with understated, earthy undertones.

But this was a working day and I was starved – salads and proteins weren’t going to cut it. GIVE. ME. CARBS. And that’s exactly what they did. A selection of pasta dishes including Bigoli pasta with Italian sausage and pesto spaghetti featured but the pasta highlight for me, in fact the overall highlight of the night, had to be the fresh ravioli with chervil and lemon butter – so beautifully seasoned, presented invitingly and with such a creamy filling. it’s the kind of yum that makes you not care if you’re getting fat.

I managed to squeeze in just a couple of slices of pizza (both of which were gluten free), one with artichoke hearts and capers, which was pizza of the month and the other with anchovy, garlic capers and buffalo mozzarella. I particularly liked the pizza of the month but ironically, it was the other dishes of the evening that stole the show for me. I would be interested in trying some of the other pizzas on the menu, especially the Flamenco.

A Dessert Coma at The Big Red Pizza

I was so full, which I certainly wasn’t complaining about but the problem with having a sweet tooth (or in my case, multiple sweet teeth) is that there is always room for dessert and we were spoilt rotten with three of them: chocolate brownies in handy bitesize chunks, an alcohol-infused knickerbocker glory and a banoffee pie with a luxuriously sweet, toffee sauce.

The service is genuine, attentive and welcoming and whether you are coming with a group of friends to celebrate an occasion, a family or just a couple looking to avoid the cooking on a Friday night, you will fit in fine and you will leave full. They also have a room with a stage used for live comedy and film screenings, including free children’s films at weekends. And if you want a unique, quirky party venue, you can even arrange private hire for parties and weddings. I’d already discovered Brockley Market and with the discovery of this quirky restaurant, it makes me wonder which other foodie gems are lurking on these South London soils…wpid-img_20141006_082638.jpg

Do you have any London secret finds you are willing to share?


Disclaimer: I accompanied Inher30s, who was invited to this blogger evening, where our meal was complimentary. As ever, I remain an opinionated, little Madam and all views, good or bad, are entirely my own.

42 thoughts on “The Big Red Pizza Bus – Double-Decker Dining in London

  1. You’re bringing back memories of those amazing desserts! How many did we have in one sitting, like 4? We must plan to go back, so many more pizzas to try!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 29, 2014 — 9:03 pm

      Embarrassingly enough, I think it was literally 4 desserts – oops! Yes a return is a must – it’s well priced, delicious and local so we really have no excuse!

  2. I’ve wanted to go here for ages but haven’t managed to get round to it quite yet! Alex has a huge love for pizza so I know he’d love it but it’s good to know they do other things apart from pizza too. Will definitely have to give this place a try soon. It’s just the sort of quirky place I’d like!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 29, 2014 — 9:05 pm

      Yes that’s why I loved it – it was the quirky factor combined with actually good food as it’s so often one or the other only! We should do a group trip there – leave the boys to eat the pizzas whilst we sample the finer things on the menu – AKA chocolate brownies 🙂

  3. Ohh this is the COOLEST thing I’ve ever seen in a bus!!!!!! Wish I’d known about this when I went last year! Loving the nifty bite-sized brownies too!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 29, 2014 — 9:08 pm

      The bitesize brownies were a killer in the sense that it’s so easy to keep taking just one more chunk because they’re so nifty and before you know it, you’ve eaten the equivalent of about 3 regular brownies!! 😀 If you’re ever back in the area, it’s worth checking out! Thanks so much for reading Jess.

  4. This looks so awesome! Those desserts too…*drools*

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 29, 2014 — 9:13 pm

      Thanks Emily!! And yes, there was much drooling on my part when those puddings came out – they were all classic desserts but they were done really well 🙂

  5. Love the idea – particularly the desserts 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 29, 2014 — 9:14 pm

      You must have similar taste in foods to me then!! I too loved the desserts – they were all delicious but I like my chocolate so kept reaching out for more of those brownie bites! Thanks so much for reading!

  6. Good work on the desserts! This looks like such a cool place – great find!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 29, 2014 — 9:17 pm

      Haha, just so you know Char, the huge banoffee pie and knickerbocker glory were for sharing, just in case I came across as a total glutton! It was a very cool place – can’t believe it’s so near home for me and I had no idea! Thanks for reading and looking forward to meeting soon 🙂

      1. Oh I’m disappointed now. Sharing + dessert doesn’t make any sense to me! 😉

  7. What a fantastic concept! It’s when I hear of places like these that I become even more convinced I want to move to London!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 29, 2014 — 9:22 pm

      Come join us Upasna!! You’d be so welcome and it’d be fabulous to meet you and go feasting and places like this around London with you! Have we convinced you?! 🙂

      1. Haha! Now doesn’t that sound like the most perfect plan! 😊 I’ve dreamed of moving to London ever since I visited back in 2009.

  8. All this food sounds delightful, and has definitely left my tummy rumbling! Can’t believe it was all onboard a red double decker too – how cool! Glad you had a good evening 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 29, 2014 — 9:23 pm

      Thanks Catherine! The food was delicious, especially the pasta! I’m never sure when restaurants have a theme or concept like this whether they end up compromising on food quality but this quirky little place proves you can do both well 🙂

  9. malaysianmeanders October 29, 2014 — 4:58 am

    What a fun place. I like that, despite the name, they serve much more than pizza. It’s more sophisticated food than I expected given the venue. I’ll have to remember when I eventually make it to London.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 29, 2014 — 9:25 pm

      It was great fun and just like you, I wasn’t sure how sophisticated the food would be so was really surprised with the delicious ingredients and flavour combinations they served! If you make it over to London, it’s worth a visit and quite nearby to Greenwich which is a lovely part of London to visit too. Thanks so much for reading 🙂

  10. Such a brilliant concept, who doesn’t love pizza. I absolutely love buses, and there is only one seat in the house. Top deck front row. Such a good find.

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 29, 2014 — 9:32 pm

      I couldn’t have put it better myself Zoe!! And yes, seriously, who doesn’t love pizza?! I quite like taking the bus too – if traffic wasn’t so slow in London, I think I’d take the bus more often as you definitely get to see more of the city!

  11. What a great experience, especially culinary. So many great dishes to try! Omomomomomom!!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) October 29, 2014 — 9:34 pm

      It was fabulous Agness – I feel like I was a stone heavier when I came home that night but it was worth it to sample all those delicious pastas and pizzas (and of course desserts!) Thanks so much for reading!

  12. Why didn’t I try this when I was in London two months ago?! Ah, but now there’s a reason to go back 😀

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 2, 2014 — 8:17 pm

      Absolutely! If or when you are back in London and looking for somewhere a bit more quirky to dine, this is the place to try 😀 Thanks for reading!

  13. That looks like such a fun evening! I thought they had to close the bus down so am glad to hear it is back – will have to try it out sometime

    Suze | LuxuryColumnist

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 2, 2014 — 8:18 pm

      Thanks Suze! I hadn’t realised it had closed at all so maybe that was before I was there – I loved how warm and friendly they were in there not to mention the yummy food – certainly worth a visit!

  14. What a great idea – I have to go try this out in London!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 2, 2014 — 8:26 pm

      It’s lovely Lucy and although I wasn’t sure if a place like this would be a bit tacky, it’s actually done really well, quite cool and stylish with delicious food! Thanks for reading 🙂

  15. This looks fab! And I definitely agree with you that there’s always room for pudding!

    Sometime Traveller

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 2, 2014 — 8:30 pm

      Thank you for reading Laura! I’m glad you like desserts as much as I do 🙂

  16. Wow – what a neat idea for a night out. And seriously…I am starved now!

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 2, 2014 — 8:32 pm

      Hehe, sorry Emily – maybe I should have put a hunger warning up at the start of the post 🙂 But yes, was a really fun night out! Thanks for reading!

  17. Pizza AND a big red double decker bus? Where do I sign up?!?! Très cool 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 2, 2014 — 8:33 pm

      Haha, just head on over to South East London and sign up to grab a table on board this bus! Thanks for reading Tim 🙂

  18. What a great tip! I think a bus-turned-restaurant is very cool. Cheers to the owners for getting marketing out by hosting a blogger evening, too. Now I want to roll around in those desserts…

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) November 10, 2014 — 11:53 am

      I’m glad you like the idea of the bus restaurant – it was indeed very cool and worth checking out if you are in the area! I think companies are increasingly seeing the value of working with bloggers from different genres for marketing purposes. Thanks so much for reading Em!

  19. I love the way you wrote your disclaimer hehe – lovely blog 🙂

    1. Shikha (whywasteannualleave) April 23, 2015 — 9:34 pm

      Haha! Thanks Anna! Glad to hear you liked it ☺ was so lovely to meet you properly yesterday! Safe travels!

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