Relaxed rustic vibe, excellent beer and fascinating flavour combinations...

Menus at the Dough & Brew are festooned with quirky quotes from a range of celebrities, the most pertinent of which comes from US author and humourist Dave Barry, and reads: “Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer. Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.”

John Martin is no doubt one of many who agree with Barry’s assessment. John has been bringing beer and pizza together at his restaurant for more than five years, and to no little acclaim. The central Warwick venue, located just round the corner from Market Place, was a finalist in the National Pizza Awards within months of opening and has earned plaudits from the likes of Good Food magazine, The Daily Telegraph and The Sun.

After a fabulous visit on a cold Friday night, I can see why. The packed restaurant - which also does brisk trade in brunches and lunches - had a relaxed rustic vibe, and the service, food and beer were all excellent.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First I had a chat with John about the restaurant and the fascinating flavour combinations of the pizzas - all of which are his own creations. I’d already clocked a couple I liked the look of, and was planning to swap one of the toppings (I don’t get on with blue cheese) but didn’t want to upset its creator. Thankfully the genial host wasn’t put out.

“We concentrate on quality and flavour, using as many locally sourced ingredients as possible, but it’s always all about personal taste,” he told me - and if he was biting his tongue, I couldn’t tell. He did recommend that me and my pal share a few starters and nine-inch pizzas (‘pizzettes’) rather than pick individual items and stick to them. It was advice that made our night, and I’d definitely recommend to anyone planning a visit that they do the same.

We also took a number of John’s recommendations on board for our starters - skin-on fries with parmesan and truffle oil (absurdly moreish), fried cauliflower wings (coated in a delicate tempura-style batter and served with garlic & lemon dipping sauce) and fresh halloumi bites (cubes of fresh cheese in a dusting of seasoned rice flour and lightly fried), which neither of us could get enough of. Despite being acutely aware of the need to save room for the pizza to come, the expression ‘just one more’ became a mantra.

There are salads, pasta, buttermilk fried chicken, burgers and tacos among the main-course options at the D&B, but unless you’re allergic (and gluten-free versions are available) then pizza is where it’s at. Made from sourdough bases left to prove for at least 72 hours and then hand-stretched - my eye was regularly drawn to a chef tossing them in the air - the pizzas come in an array of unique combinations with equally unique names. The meat and vegetarian versions of the unlikely - but hugely popular - mac and cheese pizzas are Mork and Mindy respectively, the main topping of the Sir Winston is short rib beef, and John even revealed that the restaurant has a secret menu if you know to ask (hint: it involves Marmite).

Pizzas range in price from £7.50 to £9 for a nine-inch, and £12 to £15 for a 12-inch. Although you can create your own combinations from the variety of toppings (veggie, cheese and meat), we were happy to bow to John’s suggestions again. We opted for Lady Nancy (portobello mushrooms on top of caramelised onions and stilton - perhaps a little sweet), Jamie (fully loaded with garlic butter crayfish and rocket but no blue cheese at my request) and the undoubted, as well as unexpected highlight, The Queen (reduced tomato and butter sauce topped with buffalo mozzarella), which is one of John’s favourites and easily the best Margherita-style pizza I’ve ever tasted.

All of the above were accompanied, in Dave Barry fashion, by a couple of pints of the outstanding Dough & Brew IPA, a magnificently hoppy, citrusy craft ale that’s the highlight of a selection of beers (and one lager) available on draft. The D&B also serves a wide range of bottled beer, wine, spirits, gins, cocktails & mocktails, milkshakes and more, as well as an array of waffle desserts that we couldn’t even look at, let alone contemplate, after stuffing ourselves with such fabulous pizza.

Stuffed, as all foodies know, is the optimum adjective - as well as accolade - for a night of pizza and beer, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a venue that makes a better job of that combination than the Dough & Brew.

Five stars

Reviewed by Steve Adams, December 2021

Dough & Brew, 45 Brook Street, Warwick, CV34 4BL. Tel: 01926 401111