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Is this the best pizza in England?

To Warwick, for award-winning wood-fired sourdough pizzas, craft beers, waffles and decadent oozy milkshakes at hipster hangout, Dough and Brew.

This laid-back Warwick wood-fired sourdough pizzeria has run away with our Muddy Award for Best Restaurant two years on the run. Muddy popped in for a slice of the action and met owner John Martin, a man who knows his dough.

 

THE LOWDOWN

Dough and Brew won the Muddy Award for Best Restaurant in Warwickshire consecutively in 2019 and 2018, attracting thousands of votes. This successful and thriving independent family business is clearly a big hit with diners across the region. Their tasty sourdough pizzas have been recommended by Waitrose Magazine (Top 6 Pizza Restaurants), Good Food Magazine and nominated by Midlands Food and Drinks Awards in 2018 and 2019. Earlier this year they were also listed as the number one pizzeria in England by Big Seven Food and Travel, and were among 13 finalists in the National Pizza Awards 2017 nominated for theirCary’ pizza topped with roast Chicken and mozzarella finished with rocket, fresh buffalo mozzarella, walnut pesto and crisp chicken skin, as reported in The Telegraph. The restaurant has made the finals three years running and is just waiting to hear if they have been shortlisted in 2019…

 

THE LOCATION

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Off the main Market Square in Brook Street, Dough and Brew is located in the heart of Warwick, just five minutes from Warwick Castle and a minute walk from the historic Lord Leycester Hospital, an historic group of medieval timber-framed buildings on Warwick High Street dating from around the late 14th Century. There’s outdoor pavement seating, al fresco dining and atmospheric fairy lights.

 

THE VIBE

Industrial chic: distressed corrugated iron walls, steel sheeting, hanging light bulbs mixed with plush turquoise velvet wall seating, a long central wooden table and stools. Don’t go expecting a traditional Italian pizzeria with red-and-white checked tablecloths. It’s more of a hipster hangout for diners, drinkers and children who love the silent cinema. You can also perch on metal stools at the wooden window bar. Owner John came up with the interior design plan himself. It’s very laid-back and is even kitted out with its own silent cinema showing kids films while they eat listening to the film on headphones – no more temper tantrums, everyone happy.

Even on a work night – mid-week – the restaurant was buzzing. We chose to sit at the wooden window bar -from where you can watch your food being made and then placed in the huge pizza oven. There’s lots on from live music to live Sports and a Film Club.

Forthcoming events include:

 

SCOFF & QUAFF

Twelve-inch sourdough pizzas are the star of the show here.  All the bases are left to prove for 72 hours and hand stretched. Gluten free sourdough bases are also available for an extra £2 and smaller pizzettes. Many of the 15 flavour pizzas have been playfully inspired by film and TV  – all lowercase, it’s not a typo – such as brad (covered with spicy pepperoni sausage) and angelina (sweet & spicy roquito chilli with sultry black olives); clark (super meaty) and lois (Mediterranean roasted veg in balsamic vinegar & truffle oil). You can opt for an aubergine base sauce instead of tomato and lots of additional toppings. Look out for the mork and mindy if you grew up in the 1980s – “nano nano”. Free from options include gluten free and vegan, and if you’re not into pizza there’s fresh pasta and homemade tomato sauce.

Between the two of us we ordered a vegetarian Sophia pizza – tomato sauce with Portobello mushrooms, rocket, buffalo mozzarella and walnut pesto, a Caesar Salad, a bowl of sweet potato fries and slaw.

Are these the best pizzas in England? This was my third visit and each time I’ve been I’ve been super-impressed. If you’ve ever tried making your own pizza you’ll know how hard it is to get the base just right. Packed with flavour, with just the right amount of cheese, lots of rocket with topped with homemade pesto and a crusty base they come as close to perfection as the best ones I’ve tasted in Italy. I love that there’s so much choice and variety.

Don’t just come for dinner! Breakfast specials include The Full Monty/ The Full Veggie for a tenner each, a £6 Breakfast Butty, pancake stacks and homemade Granola. Brunch is served until middy – and excitingly you can build your own; have French toast, waffles or…breakfast pizza. Why not?

Homemade fresh waffles for dessert include banoffee, s’mores, cookies & cream, ice-cream and doughnut and caramelised apple. Tiramisu and campfire banana are other choices to finish your meal.

Dough and Brew has a selection of local draft beers including Warwick’s own Church Farm lagers and Hogan’s Cider from Stratford-upon-Avon; craft beers from Shakespeare Brewery in Stratford and North Cotswold Brewery. Plus a cocktail menu, wines, bubbles, spirits and a selection of low/non-alcohol and gluten-free lagers and mocktails.

 

KID-FRIENDLY?

For sure, they’d love the quirky vibe. How many kids do you know who dislike pizza, a range of waffles and creamy milkshakes in six different flavours?  A 12-inch is good to share or if waaaaay too big for smaller appetites there’s pizzettes from £5 for a marge (margarita).

Whenever I’ve been there are have been lots of families enjoying the laid-back vibes. Last summer my sister and I took our younger kids after a day trip to Warwick Castle and they loved enjoying the novelty of being allowed to eat pizza at a restaurant wearing headphones even it was Frozen for the umteenth time. The girls may have outgrown it, and it wasn’t quite to my nephew’s Marvel action hero tastes – but they were all perfectly happy…

 

THE OWNER 

Owner John Martin, originally from Whitstable, Kent is a former sales and marketing consultant with a passion for food. When we meet for a quick natter, he’s wearing a t-shirt from his favourite restaurant – John’s of Bleeker Street, a pizzeria established in 1929 by Italian immigrant John Sasso in the heart of New York’s Greenwich Village. It’s a traditional coal fired brick oven pizzeria with fans including Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Depp.

The origins of Dough and Brew lay in a bread-making course; John found the process relatively straight forward and discovered he loved concocting different flavour pizzas. In July 2013 John took part in his first street food and film festival in Warwick, which totally took off and from there was invited to join the award-winning and ever-expanding street food event, Digbeth Dining Club, in Birmingham. He then spent three years working four days a week on his day job and three days developing Dough and Brew’s sister company, Spectacular Goat – a street food catering business – currently booked up until 2021. For a quirky wedding or events option they serve homemade sourdough pizzas from a gazebo and trailer, a vintage 1950s caravan or a 1960s VW single cab pickup.

In June 2016 John quit his day job,  took the plunge and opened Dough and Brew. After battling to gain planning permission to takeover a vacant premise in Warwick town centre, he then revamped and transformed the building. But it’s not always easy in today’s climate running an independent business. John says: “I’ve made loads of mistakes along the way, but we were very lucky to have both businesses. Now I have a team of managers to run the restaurant – all I am interested in is making the food!”

 

OUT-AND-ABOUT

Beautiful historic gems including Warwick Castle, Lord Leycester Hospital and St John’s House are within easy walking distance of the bustling town centre with its many independent shops and cafes, the river and St Nicholas’ Park. Culturally there’s Bridge House Theatre at Warwick School, Playbox Theatre, offering extensive creating training for young people from 3-19Market Hall Museum, the annual folk festival in July and literary festival Warwick Words. It’s a short hop, skip and a jump into Leamington Spa. Check out https://visitwarwick

 

THE MUDDY VERDICT:

Good for:  Brekkie/brunch, family meals, date nights and gatherings with friends in a chilled, unstuffy atmosphere. watching live music or sports, a children’s special treat night (birthday, exam celebration) and a cool place for teens.

Not for: Formal meals. If you’re after somewhere super posh, this probably isn’t for you.

The damage: Very affordable. Pizzas range from £9 – £16 with sides starting from £3; smaller pizzettes £5. Waffles start at £4 for a half, £7 full-size and £4 for a small milkshake.

 

45 Brook Street, Warwick, CV34 4BL, Tel: 01926 401 111, doughandbrew

Opening times: normally 5pm – 9.30pm, Mon-Fri; 11am-9.30pm, Wed-Fri and 9.30am-9.30pm, Sat & Sun. During Sept while improvement work is taking place in the kitchen the restaurant is open Mon – Thurs, 4pm with last booking at 9.30pm; Fri – midday last booking at 9.30pm; Sat: 9.30am last booking at 9.30pm; Sun: 9.30am, last booking at 7.30pm.

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