It's not too often you come across pubs marketing their food offer as Italian pub grub, but pizzas in pubs are definitely on the rise.
Many are turning to the Italian classic for an easy fix and some even go as far as installing wood-fired pizza ovens and sourcing Italian flour. And it doesn't get much more authentic than that. Well, unless you're off to Italy of course.
The Bull Inn in Henfield, West Sussex, also known as The Pizza Pub, has been doing pizzas since 1985, when there was a definite gap in the market.
Owner Brian Snell says: "We've been here 14 years and the guy who had it before us seemed to be doing really well with his Italian food, so we didn't think there would be any point changing it."
The pub has a reputation for its pizza that stretches to about a 20-mile radius as there are few pubs in the area that stray away from classic pub dishes.
He says: "It's quite unique around here. Too many people stick with traditional English stuff and it makes customers come in for a pint or two before or after they go out for pizza, curry or Thai. So I've always thought, why not bring these restaurants to the pub?"
Brian is keen to source the best ingredients for his pizzas, and every morning he has a fresh delivery of dough from a local bakery.
"It would take forever to make the dough ourselves, so we just source it, then roll it out and leave it to prove before we top it with ingredients from a local
greengrocer, cheese supplier and pizza supplier," he says.
"Our most popular pizza is the Quackers, which is topped with a secret tomato and duck sauce, peppers, crispy duck, mozzarella, cucumber and spring onions. It's a bit like a crispy duck pancake, and it's definitely our biggest seller."
The pub also does a Bambino offer for kids or people who don't want a massive pizza. Additionally, around three to four times a week they do functions with a pizza buffet.
"Everyone loves a pizza," adds Brian. "Even older people who you'd think would want sandwiches and more traditional items, they love it. And in the city, it's a massive growth industry still, with takeaway pizzas."
Taking it outside
Another pub that specialises in pizzas is The Molesworth Arms in Wadebridge, north Cornwall. Tenant David Barnard believes his outside wood-fired pizza oven, which has been built as an extension of the kitchen, is a great way to get the most out of his outdoor space.
Turnover has increased by 20 per cent year on year at the St Austell Brewery pub since it was introduced, with weekends attracting more than 400 customers.
David explains: "The wood-fired pizzas have been a popular addition to the menu and customers love being able to watch them being cooked and served up minutes later.
"All three of our bars serve wood-fired pizzas from our outside terrace oven, fresh pasta and noodles, big salad bowls, home-made meaty burgers and fresh seafood from Port Isaac."
He points out that the pizza oven has increased the capacity of the pub, as they can now cater for people they previously would have had to turn away.
Toppings range from simple tomato, mozzarella and basil to cured ham and pineapple, anchovies and capers and ground beef steak and buffalo mozzarella. The ground chilli beef steak pizza sells particularly well, he adds.
Keeping within the Italian theme, the pub also serves fresh pasta with dishes such as spaghetti carbonara, egg tagliatelli, linguini with Cornish crab and beef lasagne.
A taste of Italy
- Most people who have eaten ice cream in Italy will say thereís nothing to match it anywhere else, but Amore di Gelato has somehow managed. The brand has introduced a Pistachio flavour with real chunks of pistachio.
- Brakes has launched a new Nduja paste which is similar to p‚tÈ and can be used as a pizza topping, as a dip or in pasta sauce.
- Galbani's Mozzarella Cubetti are small cubes which can be scattered on the pizza base for consistent coverage.