Food review, Storico, Ipswich: 'The pizza took me back to Italy'
- Credit: Charlotte Smith-Jarvis
Visiting our county town during the Welcome Back Ipswich weekend there was a sense of optimism in the air. No doubt it’s been a tough time for our high streets....Actually, that’s a huge understatement – it's been horrendous.
But local folk aren’t resting on their laurels. It was superb to step back into Ancient House, for example, where a raft of independent traders had come together to create a kooky, cool artisan department store. This is what Ipswich has been crying out for. Long may the drive forward continue.
Looking for lunch nearby, we wound up at Storico. If the mid-2010s was a time for the Turkish/Mediterranean restaurant boom in town, the last 12 months belong to the pizza. Several pizzerias have cropped up over the year – and I intend on trying them all.
Storico is just a few steps off the main high street drag on Northgate Street. It’s a part of Ipswich that’s looking a tiny bit unloved at the moment. But ignore the sadness of the nearby empty bar/pub and get yourself into this very new spot – opened in January.
As soon as we walked in we were greeted by a huge beaming smile from the server (who I think is one of the owners). A genuine, friendly bit of hospitality. Nothing forced or false. We already felt like we were in Italy because that service is almost half the deal done.
Inside, Storico has been decorated comfortably, with some quirks – from a floating ceiling, to faux tiled (but effective) wallpaper, a ‘green’ wall, and a saxophone gleaming from a corner.
The scent of oregano, basil and garlic carried through from the semi-open kitchen, where the pizza oven was in full view.
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Other customers seemed in high spirits, and sat with empty plates. A good sign.
I have to point out how comfy the chairs were. This might seem a silly sidenote, but I’m short, and always suffer from hard wooden, style-over-substance seats slicing into my legs. Not here. They were lovely and soft.
At first glances the menu looked good and thankfully didn’t veer off course from Italy – no ‘English’ options of chips or burger. The prices seemed reasonable as well. Around £8 to £13 for a main course, and £5 for puddings.
We didn’t go for starters (which included the usual bruschetta and salads). My eye was caught by the homemade pastas in a choice of shapes, to be coated in alla Norma, arrabiata, ragu, seafood, or one of a number of other sauces. But as soon as we saw the pizzas coming out to a neighbouring table our appetites were fixed.
As well as having to pick your topping (be it the pesto, roast chicken and pepper Rosta, or the A La Mela with gorgonzola, apple, truffle oil and olive paste) there’s the decision of whether to go for a classic base, or pay £1.50 extra for wholemeal, charcoal or gluten-free.
We stuck with the classic – this time.
Most of the pizzas are anointed with sweet crushed San Marzano tomatoes, pureed with little else to make a sauce, and fior di latte mozzarella.
My daughter had this basic pizza (her go-to), while the rest of us worked our way down the more interesting options. My son, the meaty option covered in loads of marinated chicken and salami. My husband, a kind of carpaccio-topped pizza with smoked beef, rocket, fresh tomatoes and Grana Padano. And me, the Capricciosa, with tender ham, bosky mushrooms, artichokes and black olives.
The toppings were good, granted, but the star of the show at Storico is actually the dough. Clearly long-fermented, it had a full, wholesome, rich flavour that only comes with time. It wasn’t a doughy, pillowy afterthought. The taste, texture, puffy charred edges and slender centre reminded me of pizzas we’ve eaten in Rome’s charming, graffitied Trastevere district.
I’ve already mentioned the sauce, which was perfectly balanced for sharp/sweetness.
And I was happy to see they’d used fior di latte, which is so important in the making of proper pizzas. Made at super high temperatures, unlike the rubbery mozzarella you get in supermarkets, this stuff has a high melting point, meaning instead of becoming greasy or cloying under the ferocious flames of a wood-fired oven, it collapses, and oozes to gooey and molten.
We were full, but desserts were only a fiver so we thought ‘what the heck, why not?’
Unfortunately, despite being nicely arranged on the plates, the puds were less inspired than the main courses. They didn’t seem homemade, and were a tad on the sweet side. I’d say, they were fine if you want a little something to round of the day/night alongside a coffee.
The chocolate souffle was more like a brownie/melt-in-the-middle cake. And the salted caramel cheesecake was just OK. Nothing dramatically wrong – I just prefer homemade desserts.
All told, lunch at Storico came in at £67 for four massive, excellent quality pizzas, two puds, freshly squeezed juice, a cider and a glass of wine, which we all agreed was good value. We’ll definitely be back.
We pay for our reviews and the establishments we visit do not know we’re coming, and have no influence on our opinion.