It’s no secret that pizza is one of my favourite foods, so when I heard a new pizzeria was opening in Norwich, I had to check it out. A short walk from the high street brings you to Timber Hill, one of Norwich’s oldest streets, lined with boutique shops, pubs and now a pizzeria! The restaurant’s exterior is very clean and modern, painted bright write with simple black text and a free standing chalk board declaring their specials.
We arrived to find that it was already pretty packed. We were greeted with a friendly welcome and asked to wait for a couple of minutes whilst they cleaned a table for us. As you walk in, the tables are mostly in the middle and to the right. The tiny open kitchen is straight in front of you (complete with wood-fired oven), and there are a couple of bar stools tucked to the left if you need to wait for a table. The air is thick with the smell of freshly baked bread and sweet, tangy tomato sauce. The heavy wooden tables add to the authentic Italian feel and the black chairs that accompany them are reminiscent of al fresco dining. There is a large chalk board at the back of the restaurant on which the different pizzas are hand-written.
We were seated almost immediately and presented with a two-sided paper menu. The idea behind Donelli’s is simple, but very effective! There are no starters, aside from olives and garlic bread, and they only serve ten different pizzas, made from a handful of ingredients. On the wine menu, there is just one red wine, one white wine and one rose wine to choose from. They also offer prosecco at £3.50 a glass. The ingredients decorating their pizzas are mainly: cheese (mozzarella, parmesan, gorgonzola), basil, cured meat (salami, prosciutto), rocket, olives, and anchovies. It’s great for vegetarians as five of the ten don’t include any meat. There is also a vegan option; a cheese-less pizza with just tomato sauce, basil, garlic and oregano. The price is pretty unbelievable at £5.50, as these pizzas aren’t small! Prices for pizzas with more toppings range between £6.50 and £9.00 which is still pretty great value for money. I went for the ‘Verona’ which came with mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and rocket, whilst Gary went for the ‘Florence’ with mozzarella, prosciutto, rocket and parmesan. We were pretty hungry, so also went for a garlic butter pizza with mozzarella to share!
To accompany our pizzas, we opted for the red wine at £18 for a litre (equivalent of two large glasses each). This works out at £4.50 per large glass, which is also much cheaper than most other restaurants in Norwich which range anywhere from £5.50-£8.00. It was served in a glass carafe (again enhancing that Italian feel!) and was one of the best reds we’ve tried. Smooth and silky but still with enough kick to know you’ve had red wine; it went perfectly with our pizzas!
Service was great, we were greeted with a smile and our order was taken promptly. The garlic bread arrived after around 20 minutes, which seemed a little long for a small pizza, but it was busy and we were happy drinking our wine! The pizzas took another half an hour or so, which again was on the long side, but we were both happy with our choices once they arrived. One negative would be that the toppings were pretty scarce – I had just four cherry tomato halves on the entire pizza! Gary also found that he could have done with a slightly more generous portion of prosciutto.
The entire meal cost us £19 each, which included a starter, large pizza and two large glasses of wine… not bad at all! The pizzas could have done with a bit more of the toppings, but I can appreciate why there is less, when you are only paying £7 for it. I also wouldn’t advise going there if you are in a hurry.. the tiny kitchen with just one small wood-fired oven means that only a limited number of pizzas can be cooked at any one time. We were more than happy to sit back, relax and enjoy our wine, but I can see how some people may get frustrated at longer waits during busier periods.
Overall I’d definitely recommend a visit to Donelli’s, although you will probably need to book in advance. It’s become extremely popular as word of mouth has spread; they are even the sixth best place to eat in Norwich now! We are planning to head back again very soon… 🙂