First look: Inside Woodbridge's newest riverside restaurant
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
It’s all going on in Woodbridge at the moment. Every week there seems to be an exciting new foodie opening. And this weekend it’s the turn of The Woodyard, which takes prime position on the riverside, right next to the yard where the iconic Sutton Hoo ship replica is being built.
The Neapolitan pizza, cocktail and wine joint is the newest venture from Charles and Eilir Rogers (of the award-winning Grundisburgh Dog pub and Grundisburgh Dog Deli) alongside friend and business partner Tom Roberts.
While Charles admits the last two years have been tricky due to restrictions, he’s keen (as I think most people are) to look forward...and pizza seemed the way to go in 2022.
“We’ve always done pizza here [The Grundisburgh Dog] in summer. We’ve got a wood-fired pizza oven in the garden and I’ve always loved cooking them. Tom and I had also run a mobile pizza business.”
Charles and Eilir began looking for premises last February. “It was in the middle of lockdown, which was probably a bit mad, but we were running the pub and the deli and thinking, ‘what can we do next year?’.”
The trio took on the premises at Deben Wharf last October, and have spent months putting the finishing touches into the restaurant, and recruiting staff to help realise their vision.
“This place is fantastic,” Charles says. “You can see the Tide Mill from the windows and look out over the river. It’s just such a nice spot. When it came up we thought ‘we’ve got to go for this’. It’s a risky business opening restaurants but I think it’s going be a big success because Woodbridge does need a proper pizzeria.”
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Inside, Charles says The Woodyard is “quite rustic”.
“We’re keeping things exposed, like the pipework and heating and everything like that. It's black ceilings and a big industrial bar built by a local blacksmith. He’s wrapped it in stainless steel and built ship rivets into it to tie in with the boats around us. We had big iron racking shelves built for our wine and spirits too.”
The Woodyard has an open kitchen where diners can see the chefs, Tom and Franco, at work, rolling and topping the fresh dough, which made in-house every single day.
While wood-fired seems to be the buzzword in pizza making, Charles says they’re restricted to stone cooking at the eatery. “Our pizzas are cooked on proper Italian biscotti stones. They’re just as quick and good, and get that nice authentic puffy Neapolitan crust on them.”
All the raw ingredients for The Woodyard’s pizzas have been carefully selected for quality – from Italian 00 flour, to creamy fior di latte mozzarella, and cured meats, sliced in-house.
There are just a handful of starters and desserts, with Charles saying their main focus is on producing some of the best pizza around. “Starters and desserts will be quite simple and rustic.”
Begin with pizza bread sticks, brushed with garlic butter or spicy ‘nduja butter, garlic pizza bread, or burrata with sun blush tomatoes, pesto and garlic crostini crumbs.
Antipasti platters of the finest cured meats are available too – served with pane carasau (a type of Sardinian flatbread), olives and cornichons.
And onto the main event. Pizzas come in at 11ins, with daily specials available. There are the classics, from your margherita, to the cheese-free Napoli. Or try something new. A white pizza smothered in ricotta, Parmesan and lemon zest. Another covered in house-sliced salami. Or the delicious-sounding pie topped with fennel sausage, friarielli (a leafy broccolli) and scamorza (a type of firm mozzarella).
Accompany any of these with a side salad, and a glass of vino from a short wine list that’s all-Italian.
Moretti and Adnams Mosaic are on draft.
Plus, there’s a succinct cocktail menu erring towards Italian aperitivo tipples – from negroni to Aperol spritz and the refreshing sgroppiano...a kind of boozy lemon sorbet slushy.
When it comes to puds Charles says the options are short and sweet, including affogato, homemade panna cotta and gelato. “We have a big gelato counter. We’re using Harris & James gelato and that’s available all day.”
There’s a children’s menu. And gluten-free options also.
“It’s quite daunting,” Charles says of the opening, “but we’re confident we’ve got a great team of chefs in the kitchen and our manager Tristan is brilliant. We’re looking forward to seeing what people think.”
The Woodyard is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 9am to 10.30pm for walk-ins only. Food is served from midday to 9pm, and coffee and gelato from opening.