Since originally writing this article, we have returned multiple times with various friends or family to give them the opportunity to try this brilliant pizza, so we've updated the article to reflect this.
Honestly, I think you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t like pizza. Not everyone likes the same style, the same base or the same flavours; but almost everyone enjoys pizza in one form or another.
Pizza in the UK is dominated by restaurants chains, delivery franchises, or your local takeaway joint that also does kebabs, fried chicken and whatever else. Most takeaway or delivery seems to be thick crust pizzas that cook on a ‘conveyer belt’ oven, with restaurants offering more traditional stone baked pizzas, but lacking in size or a decent takeaway service.
Then comes Fat Toni’s.
Stone baked. Thin sourdough base. Sit in restaurant and takeaway too. All the pros, none of the cons.
Fat Toni’s is a local pizza company that has two takeaway and delivery joints, one in Stroud and one in Gloucester. We had heard only good things about their pizza from our food loving friends in those areas, so we were obviously pretty happy at the launch of their Cheltenham restaurant, which is a bit closer for us.
The Cheltenham restaurant does not operate a delivery service, opting for a more traditional sit down Pizzeria, with atmosphere and delicious Italian wines from our friends at Vinotopia and When in Rome.
Fortunately they do have collection for takeaway, so your hopes of pizza, drinks and a DVD at home aren’t squashed.
They offer two sizes of base. The regular pizza is the size of a normal plate, great for one person. The large is a whopping 20”, nearly 3 times the size of a regular pizza. So of course we opted for the large, despite there only being two of us eating it.
The first time we visited, we split the pizza half and half with the toppings, so I could enjoy the meat options and Sophie could enjoy the vegetarian. They also offer the ability to split it 3 or 4 ways to accommodate more people, or just so you can try more flavours.
Amongst the vast menu of traditional, new world, and vegetarian options, we made our choices. I opted for the aptly named Noah’s Arc, featuring pepperoni, chorizo, chicken, prosciutto, meatballs and caramelised onion (albeit swapping the chicken for olives). Sophie opted for the Alice in Wonderland, with chopped tomatoes, asparagus and wild mushrooms.
The base is a perfect mix of crispy and chewy, with a delicious resonance of sourdough flavour. Great toppings too, including strong caramelised onion - if you’re not a fan you’d best leave it off though, they don't mind if you do! Despite the understandable lack of sharing, Sophie said the vegetarian option was also great, and it was nice to have proper ingredients on a vegetarian pizza for once. I've since tried this topping and agree, it's a great veggie option.
In subsequent revisits, I have also tried the Tutto Carne, which is definitely a solid carnivorous option. It's a got Pepperoni, Chorizo, Salami, Frankfurters, Prosciutto Cotto Ham and Speck Smoked ham. The whole hog.
That seems to be one of their shining lights as a pizza joint, that they offer such a great range of pizza choices, accommodating various intolerances and dietary requirements. From a plethora of veggie options, to vegan and lactose free options, to gluten-free bases - albeit not celiac as cooked in same oven as regular pizza. Fat Toni's try their best to help everyone be able to enjoy delicious pizza.
The first time around, we ate as much of the massive pizza as we could stomach, but were bested by a final slice each. So, straight into the fridge for the final takeaway pizza test; how good are the leftover slices the next day at lunch? ... or breakfast if you're really keen.
The answer was delicious. Since then, family and friends don't seem to let the pizza get that far and we struggle to find any leftovers to save.
We said before that we would definitely be back again, "not just in an attempt to avoid the usual chains, but because we need to give our friends and family the chance to experience this pizza too". We did go back again, multiple times, and I can honestly think this is the probably best pizza I've had outside of Italy.