Tommy’s Pizzeria, St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex: restaurant review
Try spider crab and pickled red chilli sourdough pizza and wood-fire-seared local mackerel at this family-friendly pizzeria in St Leonards-on-Sea
Tommy's Pizzeria in a nutshell
A casual, family-friendly pizzeria serving up wood-fired sourdough pizzas and small plates making the most of locally caught seafood.
Tommy’s began life as a successful pop-up in nearby Hastings Old Town last summer and now the eponymous Tommy (chef Tom Phillipson) and husband-and-wife team, Mark and Helen Edwards, have landed a permanent home in St Leonards, just a street back from the seafront on funky Norman Road, lined with galleries, boutique shops and an indie cinema.
What's the vibe?
Tommy’s has a Miami beach shack feel with jet-black walls and tiles, well-worn floorboards and simple wooden diner chairs and tables. The pizza oven and bar (with firewood-stacked shelving behind) skirt one side of the 45-cover interior, and a courtyard out front – big enough for another 35 diners – is simply kitted out with picnic tables and parasols. There’s a strong family-friendly vibe here and the staff are engaging and chatty with the kids.
What's the food like?
The menu offers a concise choice of aperitivo, pizzas, small plates, sides and desserts. Tommy’s Neopolitan-style sourdough pizzas (which all use creamier fior di latte rather than mozzarella) come on metal platters and include the classic margherita, pepperoni and napoli toppings, as well as some more interesting options: the (Hastings-caught) spider crab is a winner, the sweet morsels of crab beautifully fresh, and nicely lifted with mouth-puckering pickled red chillies; delicious too is the Hastings Hot, a tongue-tingling combo of jalapeños and coarse, fennel-loaded ’nduja cooled by a swirl of soured cream and a sprinkling of chives.
The small plates are worth leaving room for, particularly the wood-oven-seared local mackerel sat on a bed of radiccio and fennel with a caper and parsley dressing; and the creamy, pillowy, fall-apart burrata on roasted romano peppers, pickled shallots and fat roasted garlic cloves.
Sadly, the tempting-sounding chocolate bomboloni (deep-fried choc-filled dough balls) were off the menu on our visit, leaving ice cream as the only dessert option.
And the drinks?
There are some left-field wine choices (including a Macedonian kratosija and a Romanian orange solara) on offer, as well as Kentish Pig and Porter draught lager and IPA, a Court Garden Sussex sparkling wine and margaritas, negronis and Aperol spritzes.
Keep an eye out for any seasonal specials popping up on the menu using fish or seafood: all the produce is bought down the road, directly from the Hastings beach-launched fishing fleet. There are also plans afoot for DJ sets, film screenings and street art in the courtyard throughout the summer.
Tommy’s Pizzeria, 28 Norman Rd, St Leonards-on-Sea TN38 0EJ
Words by Dominic Martin
Photographs by Chris Snook