How good are the pizzas at Eric’s?

PUBLISHED: 14:01 26 October 2020 | UPDATED: 18:51 27 October 2020

A pizza nestles in the wood-fired oven at Eric's Pizza at Drove Orchards, near Hunstanton  Picture: Chris Bishop

A pizza nestles in the wood-fired oven at Eric's Pizza at Drove Orchards, near Hunstanton Picture: Chris Bishop

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How good are the pizzas from Eric’s yurt in Thornham?

One of Eric's delightful pizzas. Photo Dominic CastleOne of Eric's delightful pizzas. Photo Dominic Castle

The pizza is a simple thing; a little dough, some tomato, good cheese and perhaps a few more delights sprinkled on top. Done well, they are things that bring joy.

But most of the time they’re not done that well. Bready, thick, smeared with taste-free red paste and a pale goo that is to cheese what Dairylea is to Baron Bigod; it’s a wonder we bother with them, especially when there are proper alternatives.

Let me take you to a yurt on the north Norfolk coast just outside Thornham. Here is a simple set-up of a few socially-distanced tables and seats around a woodburner, belting out welcome warmth on a chilly October night.

Also belting out warmth is a mighty pizza oven, into the fiery throat of which are thrust thin pizzas, emerging moments later bubbled and beautiful. And what pizzas they are.

Eric's Pizza at Drove Orchards, Thornham, near Hunstanton Picture: Chris BishopEric's Pizza at Drove Orchards, Thornham, near Hunstanton Picture: Chris Bishop

The menu keeps it simple; a list of anti pasti if you will, and nine pizzas to choose from. The nduja and fior de latte mozzarella, with a scattering of extra ham chunks, was my choice. Fabulous dough base, blistered with little charred spots and perfectly textured, rich with tomato, generous and divine mozzarella and the full richness of the spicy nduja on top.

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Our non-meat-eater had a button mushroom, pickled shitake, roasted garlic oil and truffle creme fraiche pizza, with added vegan nduja for spice. A gorgeous blend of flavours and a change for being a tomato-free option.

Thornham has its own orchard; its sparkling cider made a fresh and crisp addition to my meal while herself tried a Niasca Festivo, a grown-up soft drink with a sweet, citrussy tang and an undercurrent of bitter orange.

We took dessert away; a greedy portion of chocolate cream and biscotti and a fat wedge of dulce de leche cheesecake. Naughty, but very nice.

It’s a busy joint; there was a brief wait for a table (we had a pager) and there was always a tower of takeaways tottering on the pass ready for the steady stream of customers. Little wonder; these have to be some of the best pizzas going anywhere. The serving team were cheerful and even the music was agreeable and not - I know, a classic old git grump - too loud.

It transported me back over 40 years to the first time I ever tried pizza, in an outdoor restaurant on the Italian coast, watching open-mouthed as the cooks flung the pizza dough around and loaded it with wonderfulness. From Thornham to the Lido de Jessolo for £9? Bargain.

Our review visits are unannounced and we pay for our meals.

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