The London Eatery That Uses An Unexpected Salty Ingredient In Its Dishes

To explain the origins of using seawater in dishes, Italian-born Chef Mauro Palomba told Vice, "This way of cooking comes from the Italian fisherman ... They would just scoop up some seawater and use that in place of normal water. There's something so simple and natural about it." 

Palomba believes so strongly in the practice of using seawater in recipes that all the pizzas, bread, and seafood dishes at his London restaurant 'O Ver carry a bit of the ingredient. But don't be mistaken, the resulting effect isn't quite the briny, salty cuisine you might expect. Palomba admits that the taste of seawater is nuanced and delicate, even for those well-versed in culinary arts.

At 'O Ver, appetizers and mains include seawater as an advertised ingredient: Seawater bread is served with an assortment of toppings like tomatoes and basil, mozzarella and lemon zest, and cheese mousse and thyme. The slices of salty goodness reappear alongside Polpetta Napoletana, a main dish of beef and pork meatballs slathered in tomato sauce. And possibly most famously, 'O Ver'spizza dough is made with water from the sea. 

'O Ver's pizza has become known for its fluffy texture and has earned contented appreciation from skeptics of saltwater-infused meals. Even diners who do not know seawater is an added ingredient sing praises about these slices. 

Using natural resources in the kitchen

The name "'O ver" is derived from Neapolitan meaning "truth," and the chefs at 'O ver seem committed to bringing this theme into the menus they create, one salt-water flavored dish at a time. Since food is naturally seasoned when seawater is used, chefs can reduce sprinkling additional salt into recipes and experiment with flavors while making soups and sauces. With less sodium packed into meals and more minerals enhancing dishes, foods become lighter and easier on diners' stomachs, 'O ver insists. 

After trying 'O ver's pizza, Joanna Taylor gushed in ES Magazine about the taste of the light, crisp pizza that offered just the right amount of salty flavor. The writer loved it so much, in fact, she said she thought it might be the best pizza in London. 

"[It's] a bold statement, but the impeccably light and crisp Neopolitan base has an intriguing twist: a subtle minerality about it," notes Taylor. "This adds a unique layer of salty flavor that's different from the ubiquitous sourdough, which we've grown used to reaching for when searching for a punch."

Taylor isn't the only one. One TripAdvisor reviewer admitted, "I have only tried Margherita as I could not stop re-ordering it again ever since my first try. I must have had over 20 Margheritas from this place in the past year." Whether feasting on pizza or enjoying bread made with seawater, visitors consistently voice their preferences for the dishes 'O ver is serving.