This month it’s all about my newest restaurant, Eric’s Pizza. We opened in June 2020, just as we came out of the first lockdown which was a slightly terrifying time to open a restaurant to say the least!

You may notice a theme happening with the names of our businesses. We did actually discuss it for a long time. Eric’s has worked really well for the chippy, and people will often now say ‘let’s go for an Eric’s’. We were concerned it might complicate things having ‘Eric’s Pizza’ as well, but we liked the simplicity, and that the connection was very clear, so we went with it in the end.

When the opportunity came up to take on the yurt next to our Thornham fish and chip shop, we just had to go for it. As you can imagine, running two restaurants next to each other is way easier than travelling between sites. We of course love Drove Orchards and the location on the Norfolk Coast, and there was the opportunity to really make the most of the outside areas. More about that in a moment…

Why pizza? There was never any debate. It’s such a popular food around the world, so family friendly, quick and casual, and I’ve always loved eating it. When it’s made with the finest ingredients and with great care it really is a fantastic dish.

I knew a bit about pizza-making but not a lot, so the six months before opening were spent researching, testing, learning, practising, and eating an awful lot of pizza! I bought a small Gozney pizza oven during the first lockdown and we had fun using it at home. These ovens (there are others around too) are gas-fired and get to a very high temperature; they make one pizza at a time but they’re actually not far off what you can produce from a big wood-fired oven.

I knew I wanted to serve hand-stretched Neapolitan pizza. It isn’t the easiest direction to take – you’ve got to get that lovely pillowy crust just right – but to me it's the tastiest, so we stuck with it. Our approach is just like with the chippies: we take a simple, popular dish and try to produce the best version possible with the best ingredients we can find. So with the pizzas we blend Italian quality products and traditional methods with great Norfolk produce. It’s the same for our antipasti too – my personal favourite is our pickled jalapeños which are so simple and so delicious. I guarantee you’ll never want tinned again!

I mentioned the outside spaces, something we are investing in hugely. We’re working with a brilliant King’s Lynn company, Flights of Fantasy, who are designing and building a bespoke new climbing frame in the style of a trawler. It’s so good to be working with a local business, and I reckon the frame is going to be a huge hit with children. I can’t wait to see families enjoying it very soon!