Restaurant review, Suffolk Stonehouse, Bungay
- Credit: Archant
Emily Cotton heads to north Suffolk to visit the nation’s ‘Best Independent Pizza Restaurant’.
I visited Suffolk Stonehouse on a quiet Sunday afternoon with my boyfriend Ryan when we were on our way back from a day shopping. When we arrived, we were welcomed in. We found a seat and began reading through the menu. For starters I chose calamari with garlic mayonnaise. I believe the calamari was fried as it had a crunchy battered exterior, while the inside remained tender and almost rubbery in texture. The garlic mayo was an ideal dip, while the rocket salad and lemon wedge served alongside were also ideal accompaniments.
Ryan opted for the garlic bread pizza with mozzarella for starters which, when it was brought to the table, was the same size as a full sized pizza. As a starter we both thought this was very generous. It’s definitely suited to sharing; I’d be impressed by anyone that could eat the whole garlic bread and then a full pizza afterwards too! Nonetheless, the buttery garlic bread was delicious – so I was happy to help out and have a couple of slices myself!
The first thing I noticed about the pizzas at Suffolk Stonehouse was the vast amount of choice. Not only were there 14 different pizzas to choose from, but a few could also be ordered both as a meat or vegetarian option. As well as this, the menu also stated that all pizzas could be customised too – you could add extra meat or vegetables, change your pizza’s sauce to BBQ, tomato or pesto, make your pizza a calzone, lose the middle in favour of salad, add rocket or chillies and choose between a regular or gluten free base.
After a lot of thought, I opted for the Waveney pizza, which had flat mushrooms, truffle oil, tomato, mozzarella, Maldon sea salt and cracked black pepper as toppings, while also choosing to add braised beef. The Waveney pizza was very cheese heavy, with the majority of the other toppings hidden underneath a thick layer of the mozzarella. The base was crispy with a stonebaked, wood-fired taste, while the braised beef fell apart in my mouth. With both the mushrooms and the truffle oil, the pizza also had an earthy mushroom flavour and scent.
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Ryan chose the Saints pizza, which came topped with goats cheese, spinach, mushrooms, peppers, mozzarella and balsamic vinegar. He also chose to go for the meat version of this pizza which included chicken. The Saints pizza was a very colourful dish and, thanks to the multitude of toppings, tasted different with each mouthful. The goats cheese gave the pizza an indulgent tangy flavour while the balsamic vinegar dressing on top created a strong, fruity but slightly tart taste.
By the time dessert came, we were really quite full. However when we first arrived, before we’d even sat down, I’d pointed out to Ryan the dessert on the specials board – a white chocolate and caramel cheesecake with ice cream. We decided we could just about manage one to share. The cheesecake was beautifully presented, with a tough breadcrumb base and a soft, sweet top. The cheesecake layer was a little lighter than I’d have preferred – the texture was more like that of whipped cream – but the chocolatey, caramel taste shone through making the dessert a sweet end to a savoury meal. When we were paying for our food, the waitress asked how we had found the dessert. When we said we enjoyed the dish she seemed very happy, telling us that she had baked it herself that morning. We were impressed!
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As soon as we sat down the waitress brought a bottle of tap water to our table; as mentioned previously in another review, any restaurant that does this without having to be asked gets a thumbs up. Suffolk Stonehouse also offered a wide range of other drinks, with a menu of wines, beers and soft drinks.
As far as we were aware, on the quiet Sunday afternoon we visited, there were only two members of staff working; one waitress and one chef however we had no issues with service. The waitress was welcoming and friendly and was efficient in asking during both our starters and mains if everything was okay and if there was anything else she could get us. There was only one other couple in the restaurant while we were there, but I am sure that due to the restaurant only being small, that this high level of service would still be apparent even if it was at full capacity.
As the restaurant was very quiet, the atmosphere was very relaxed and casual. I feel this would be a place that you would feel comfortable (and welcome) at regardless of whether you were dressed up to the nines for an evening meal, or in casual attire after a long countryside walk on the weekend. A chilled playlist of music was playing in the background too which aided the relaxed, homey ambiance.
Starters were around £5 each, while the pizzas on offer averaged at about £10 each, unless you opt to add meat to vegetarian versions or to add additional toppings. Desserts were around £5 each too. In total, two starters, two pizzas, a dessert to share and two drinks came to just under £45.
Location and parking
As Suffolk Stonehouse is situated on a small street in the centre of Bungay it does not have its own car park. There is however a small handful of on street parking spaces directly outside. If these are full or do not offer a long enough stay, there are also multiple small pay and display car parks within walking distance to the restaurant.
Very surprisingly, this time round my highlight isn’t going to be dessert. My favourite part of this meal was my starter, the calamari with garlic mayo. The Saints pizza is a close second though!
Suffolk Stonehouse serves up tasty stone baked pizzas with a variety of toppings all with locally inspired names. With the ability to add extra toppings, change sauces and more, there’s a pizza for every individual taste, as well as smaller versions for children and a couple of stone baked pasta dishes too! Service is relaxed and friendly making it feel like you’re in the comfort of your own home, and the overall price is exceptionally reasonable too!