Food editor’s pick: Where to get proper pizza in Suffolk
- Credit: Archant
Ooh, pizza. One of the foods of my dreams. I’ve spent more hours (and spent more calories) than I care to count sitting around, ripping hot slices of ‘pie’ apart, trying not to cover myself in molten cheese and tomato sauce.
I’ve eaten them in all their guises. Neapolitan. Roman (al taglio). Umbrian (torta al testo – a bit like a pizza/panino). Chicago (puffy and doughy). And most recently Detroit ‘red top’ style, baked into a cast iron dish, with a Parmesan crust and sauce slathered on top.
In the world of pizza, there’s the good, the bad and the ugly. I will always err towards Italian wood-fired or stone-baked, slow-risen varieties – being infinitely fresher and easier to digest. While I get there’s a place for those cardboard imposters churned out of various chains – they're just not for me. And thankfully, in Suffolk, when it comes to the ‘real deal’ there’s a lot of choice.
Alba Chiara, Felixstowe
Everything they make at this seafront restaurant is sublime – from the panzarotti (potato croquettes filled with ham, salami and mozzarella), to their creamy handmade pasta tossed with prawns, brandy, onions and double cream. There’s even a nod to the Italian penchant for aperitivo, with a wide range of Aperol and Campari-based drinks.
The chefs specialise in what’s thought to be the original pizza – pinsa Romana – slow-risen, long-fermented dough that’s super super light, with a delicate, crispy crust. They arrive either oval shaped, or ‘double crunch’ style, slightly turned over. My favourites are the Pig Feast with roast pork, guanciale, prosciutto, mozzarella and apple cider syrup, and the La Piccante, with smoked mozzarella, nduja, roast peppers and chilli oil.
Dough & Co, Ipswich, Sudbury, Bury St Edmunds
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I met former fine dining chef/owner Chris as he was setting up his first location in Sudbury. He was young (in his early 20s) and incredibly ambitious. Today he operates multiple sites both in and outside of East Anglia, and even has a burger chain. The restaurants are very casual, almost industrial in style, with a focus on making the most out of prime Italian ingredients. A signature (it’s very hot so be careful) is The Buffalo One, with a Buffalo sauce base, fior di latte, chicken, peppers, blue cheese dip and rocket.
Reggia, various locations
Paolo and Chiarina’s pizzas are truly some of the best I’ve eaten outside of Italy. Slow dough, a delicious sweet sauce, puffy charred edges, and fabulous toppings – including their own grown vegetables and herbs. I like the fact they finish the pizzas with pecorino rather than parmesan. The cheese lends a touch of salt, without being over pungent. I adore the Vesuvio, topped with nduja, fresh ricotta and extra virgin olive oil. Find them at Blacksmiths Farm, Combs Lane, Stowmarket on May 20 from 5pm, Buxhall Village Hall on May 27 from 5pm, and Westbourne Academy in Ipswich from 2pm on May 28. Follow them on social media to see other dates and to pre-order (advised).
Oakfired at the Royal Oak, Beccles
This award-winning pizzeria has been named one of the best in the country, and was only the third in the UK to be give AVPN status – marking its pizzas as authentically made in the Neapolitan way.
There’s a selection of ‘pure’ AVPN pies – including margherita and marinara, as well as their own twists. A best seller is the Oakies pizza, topped with salami, pancetta, sundried tomatoes, garlic, mozzarella, grana padano, tomato and chilli flakes. Save room for dessert – chiefly a stack of warm waffles with pistachio gelato, hazelnuts, cream and hot hazelnut chocolate sauce.
One of a clutch of new pizza restaurants in the town. I found this place truly warm and welcoming – and deliciously-scented! The semi-open kitchen gives a view to the wood-fired pizza oven, where the chef gives you options of classic, gluten-free, charcoal or wholemeal base. I enjoyed the A La Mela (gorgonzola, apple, truffle oil and olive tapenade), and the Capricciosa (ham, mushroom, artichoke and black olive). Pasta is made in-house too.
Rustico, Bury St Edmunds
I’ve not been yet, but my esteemed colleague, trusted food reviewer, and fellow gourmand Mark Heath ate here recently and raved about the place. He said everything, from the fritto misto, to the carbonara and tiramisu, was faultless, and that service was spot on. Others I know who’ve tried the pizza so far, say it is really rather good. A recommendation is the Southern Italian-style combination of white sauce, broccoli and spicy sausage.
Two Magpies, Darsham and Southwold branches
Director Rebecca says she’s forever indebted to the Italian chef who came to work for her in Southwold years ago when she was still a growing business. Although he moved on, his legacy remains, with sourdough pizza served at two of the Suffolk branches every week. At Darsham from 4.30pm to 8pm on Fridays, and at Southwold from 4.30 to 8pm on Saturdays. The menu includes classics, and other pizzas with a TM twist. I rate the Annie – brie, local ham, black pepper, honey and parmesan.
The White Hart Inn, Aldeburgh
There are often two queues to be found at the southern end of Aldeburgh’s high street in summer these days – one for the fish and chip shop, the other at the White Hart, which serves wood-fired pizza from its courtyard in warmer weather. They’re pretty darn good, and reasonably priced. And who can resist a pint of Adnams on the side?
Pheonix Pizzas, Henham Park
Folk + Fare are back at the home of Latitude with their very popular pizza pop-up. They’re available on Wednesdays only from 4pm to 8pm with pre-orders closing at 3pm (via folkandfare.co.uk). The huge wood-fired oven churns out the rounds in a matter of minutes, and toppings are endlessly inventive. The Admiral comes smothered in ricotta, smoked salmon, fresh fennel, capers and lemon zest. And the spicy, Bee Sting (salami, chilli flakes, artichokes) is finished with a drizzle of their own honey.
Lucy’s Pizzeria, Fornham All Saints
This is a lovely neighbourhood pizzeria that just has such a cool vibe. It’s unfussy, relaxed, and well-priced. They also know how to make a mean cocktail. I have a real thing for the nduja meatballs and courgette fries. The Number 1 (margherita) pizza is perfection.
The Station, Framlingham
I can’t put my finger on what makes The Station so special. We’ve eaten there multiple times over the years...since our (now teens) were babies, and it’s always felt so homely - like eating in a mate’s front room. The food has been reliably good too. And that includes the pizzas, which are pretty simple, but very decent. They’re fired from 5pm to finish Thursday to Saturday.
Sourdough Street, Ipswich
Owner Toni is passionate about sourdough, and says his is the only pizzeria in town selling pies with sourdough bases. The starter incorporates rye flour, giving a nutty finish, and each batch of dough is rested for 48 hours, making it supremely light, with a gorgeous crust. One of team’s favourites is the Grass Roots – a vegan pizza with a beetroot base, aubergine, artichokes, vegan cheese, homemade vegan pesto, tomatoes, red onions and basil. I like The Beast, whose toppings include homemade fennel sausage. If you’ve got room, there’s a Biscoff, marshmallow and white chocolate-filled calzone for pud.
Honey Hill, Clare
This chilled brasserie offers Butterworths coffee, pastries and panini during the day if you just fancy nibbles alongside a glass of wine. Or stop by for the yummy pizzas, which include a seafood version one of my best mates said is ‘to die for’ covered in garlic king prawns, mascarpone cheese, rocket, baby tomatoes and capers. Pizzas are available at 8ins or 12ins.
Moonshine Café, Wyken
Started as a lockdown project, pizzas are now part of the permanent food offering at the Wyken estate, with a newly-created barn area housing a wood-fired oven, and al fresco dining space. I like, though, to pitch up in the orchard in the sunshine – if you do this you won’t be alone, others bring picnic tables and the like. Pizza is served Friday to Sunday, 11.30am to 2pm, and ideally you should pre-order, especially on Saturdays when the farmers’ market is on (call 01359 250287 for menu details and to order). Toppings change frequently, but include lots of produce from the estate and sourced locally.
One of the longest-running contemporary pizza restaurants in the area – and an award-winner too. This spot is very family-friendly, and churns out exceptional pizzas with toppings named for villages in the local area, making the most of locally-sourced ingredients. The Flixton arrives with Bungay’s own cheese, Baron Bigod, crispy Parma ham, red onion jam, tomato and mozzarella. Starston includes home-fried chicken, bacon, peppers, corn, red onion, and mozzarella on a barbecue base. The Blythburgh includes 20-house slow-cooked local pork. And the Hoxne is covered in spinach, green olives, garlic, tomato, mozzarella, and free-range egg.