19th July 2022
Vintry, an exciting, very welcomed wood-fired pizza restaurant, opened in June this year on the fashionable Pantiles. Owner James Morris comes from a strong hospitality and media background. With first-hand experience from his parents, who ran a pub in Birmingham and having worked with many of the establishments in Tunbridge Wells, James decided to leave a successful marketing and media career in London, to return home and set up his dream pizza restaurant. Some of you may know him from the brilliant, “Chefs For Foodies”, a “platform to discover the joys of home cooking in a social context, that offers an end-to-end user experience, from the digital magazine, live and downloadable cookery classes, links to brands and partners, curated ingredients boxes and member benefits”. My good friends Chef Rohit Ghai and Chef Daniel Galmiche are just two of the great chefs featured on the latter and James remains Chief Marketing Officer for the business. I like people and their stories, if you hadn’t noticed.
Back to the restaurant. My first visit is on launch day and I am lucky enough to try the very first sourdough pizza out of their huge wood-fired oven, incidentally made by the impressive Chef Robin Read, James’s pal and currently helping out for a few months. The dough is hand-stretched, made fresh daily and they use the best locally sourced produce, including charcuterie by Beales Farm, from
their own herd of Mangalitsa pigs and fruit and vegetables from David Catt & Sons of Boughton Monchelsea.
I choose the “Spicy Chorizo”, a tomato base, fior di latte mozzarella, roasted spicy chorizo, black olives and oven roasted cherry tomatoes. That rolling flame cooks the pizza in a matter of minutes, giving it a lovely charred, smoky flavour. No soggy base here. On my second visit I choose the “Zucchini, Oregano and Basil”, a courgette puree base, green and yellow courgettes, oregano, finished with olive oil and fresh basil. I have mine with vegan cheese, however this pizza works just as well without and you can add any other topping from the menu to make it your own. James nurtures the dough like a baby and the result is evident, light, crispy where it should be and not overloaded with sloppy toppings.
Currently there are six stellar pizzas on the menu, all of which can be half size and half price for children and I love that they offer homemade lemonade and water to all patrons, a nice touch.
Starters consist of Burrata, chilli flakes and olive oil, a cured meat platter, a Heritage tomato and basil salad which you can add bocconcini mozzarella to. Shaved fennel, rocket, dill, parsley, capers and a lemon dressing and finally, garlic bread which fior di latte and parmesan can be added to. With snack selections of salami, pickles, olives and two garlic bread options, they definitely have thought of everything.
Pizza aficionados are most likely to demolish all in front of them, me I always save some belly space for dessert. Tiramisu, chocolate mousse or Kentish strawberries are the fayre offered. I cannot resist the county’s finest, which they serve with honeycomb and cream, the perfect finish with a coffee by Tunbridge Wells Coffee Roastery.
As with many businesses on The Pantiles, Vintry have an extensive breakfast offering and I am pleased to see Shakshouka appearing here. Patrons, tourists and TV crews frequent this very popular area of the town and so it is important to have an all-day offering, the competition is fierce. Cakes are made by Jessi who works here full-time, through her company, Bella’s Creations and pastries are supplied by the lovely Sussex Kitchen. I have tried the granola and a Berry Smoothie served in one of those cute jam jars with a stripy straw, very pleasant indeed. Red, white, pink and sparkling wine is priced on par with neighbours. I recommend Lu Rappaio Primitivo di Manduria for deep intensity and jammy notes.
The restaurant itself has been completely transformed from its predecessor. Sage green wood panelling, slouchy chairs, large sweetshop windows, a long bar displaying Jess’s cakes, James and Robin in full view at the pizza station and the future surprise of further upstairs dining, reached via a spiral staircase, (he is looking for a mixologist as the plan is to open a bar too). Outside seating complimenting the interior colour scheme receives the best of the sunshine until the late evening.
What’s not to love about this place. There is something for everyone. It’s a hit in my book.
All opinions are my own.