7th July 2022
Each week our in-house food writer Bibi Roy reviews one of our TN partners to see what members can expect when they visit. This week she turns her attention to Cantuccio at 42 Camden Road, Tunbridge Wells.
Cantuccio is at the top part of town on Camden Road, an eclectic mishmash of independent restaurants, cafes, pubs, takeaways, tattoo parlours, nail bars and useful shops. I liken it to Elm Grove in Portsmouth where I grew up, it literally has everything you could possibly wish for, oh and in my humble opinion, the best bakery outside of London. Unlike The Pantiles outdoor seating is at a minimum, particularly as Central Market has closed, therefore businesses have to rely on loyalty, regulars and suffer the rather extortionate percentage that delivery providers take. If I am going to trundle up the hill, (I don’t have a car and am recovering from a broken ankle), I want a good reason to do so. Enter Cantuccio, (Italian for a small cosy corner), an artisan, sourdough pizza restaurant.
Seyf, Shahin and Alejandro say they wanted to “create a warm cosy and inviting atmosphere where friends and families can meet, laugh and enjoy good quality food, sourced from organic and local suppliers” and I believe they have done just that. All three of them have solid experience in hospitality and pizzerias with Shahin in hotels back in Australia and Seyf in hotels in Turkey where he worked in bakery sections since his high school years. He knows his bread. They pooled their skills and opened the restaurant in January 2021 and have not looked back since.
When you walk into the space, to the left there is a big communal style table with benches either side and to the right, window seats and tables for two. A large bar leads you to more bench style seating and tables for four approach the kitchen. The look and feel is rustic with solid wood and paired back brickwork. I love it. They do not have a wood-fired oven, but oh the flavour and charring is all there.
As with other quality pizzerias here, it’s all in the dough which is left to rest and ferment for 72 hours. Charcuterie is from Cobble Lane Cured, including the bresaola, coppa ham and fennel and garlic sausage, with Nduja from Caravella. Their mozzarella and burrata are sourced from Sole & Latte and San Marzano tomatoes are Strianese, peeled plum DOP, (protected designation of origin status).
Vegan cheese and pesto are available upon request, personally I wouldn’t bother. Flour is organic from traditional grains that have not been hybridised or enhanced. Craft beers are a collaboration with Fuggles. They are displayed on the blackboard, along with naughty desserts, should you have room left in your belly. Hackney Gelato is superb as is their coffee by Penelope, which I pour over it, divine.
Eleven, twelve inch Roman style pizzas are available. The bubbles make a slightly thicker crust and thin base and it is imperative that the dough has time to rest to produce that light, crunchy texture underneath and soft slightly moist top. Six of the above are vegetarian and can be converted to vegan upon request. I normally have the Tartufo as I enjoy mixed mushrooms and truffle. Note: it is truffle oil, yes I know it’s a point of contention, I am working on them having fresh truffle, but that effects price of course. A big recommendation on the Tartufo, add burrata on top, it will blow your mind, trust me. On this occasion I tried the “Merguez”. Tomato, mozzarella, merguez, (spicy North African lamb sausage), fresh chilli and chives. Wow, just the right hit of heat, succulent sausage and chunks of tomato that haven’t been obliterated with plenty of mozzarella.
As usual I cannot finish the crusts, yet prior to the pizza I have not so secretly demolished a whole burrata which is served with cherry plum tomatoes, the sweetest dried figs, (they throw an artichoke in for good measure, thank you) and add sourdough bread with their famous pesto. Salads, starters and sides are all a must, I’ll just have to tell you about them another time.
I take this moment to do a few circuits of the restaurant, when really all I am doing is psyching myself up for dessert. The homemade Nutella Calzone is a thing of beauty and I do recall actually sharing this with a few friends the other week, I know you are asking yourselves, “How could you”? Affogato it is. Superb Hackney Gelato and slowly poured Penelope’s coffee with a cantucci biscuit on the side.
Cantuccio you never disappoint. One of the few to be open on Sunday evening, meaning everyone in the hospo clan loves you and well worth the walk. Thank you for a magnificent lunch.
All opinions are my own and are exclusive to the TN card.
Member reward at Cantuccio: A complimentary garlic bread when purchasing two pizzas from Tuesday to Thursday. Please show your card at the beginning of your meal.