Restaurateurs breathe new life into empty Beccles pub with authentic Italian recipes
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A small slice of Italy has come to Beccles after a pair of restaurateurs breathed new life into the bones of a previously vacant pub.
The Royal Oak, in Ravensmere, has been reborn as a Neapolitan pizza restaurant specialising in authentic, oak-fired dishes.
Paul Jackson and Paul Williams, who have been together for 12 years, were inspired to start the venture after discovering the gastronomic delights of Naples when visiting southern Italy.
The pair say they wanted to bring something new to the town, and found it in the world's oldest pizza.
Mr Jackson said: 'Our aim is to bring authentic food to the people of Beccles in a relaxed, informal environment.
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'We are passionate about Beccles and the whole area.'
Mr Jackson acts as 'pizzaiolo' at The Royal Oak and prepares the pizzas in full view of waiting diners.
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He said: 'There is a certain amount of performance involved and a transparency to the process.
'People can see the food they are going to be eating right in front of them – nothing is hidden.'
The pizzas are cooked in the huge oak-fired Valoriani oven which takes centre stage in the restaurant.
It reaches temperatures of 450 degrees Celsius and can cook the pizzas in 90 seconds.
The oak, which is locally sourced, is a key factor in the Neapolitan pizza's distinctive taste.
Mr Jackson said: 'Oak has a more even burn than other wood. It's not smoky, yet it imparts a subtle flavour to the end product.'
Such attention to detail carries on through to the precise ingredients that go into making each pizza.
Mr Jackson said: 'It should have a raised golden crust with a thin base. Then there should be the perfect combo of San Marzano tomatoes, Buffalo mozzarella and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.'
He trained for his new role at The True Neapolitan Pizza Association and has labelled his time spent there as 'invaluable'.
He added: 'I was placed in one of the oldest restaurants in Naples – Copasso. It's 170 years old and was an excellent experience.
'This would be impossible to do without the training.'