One of several new pizzerias to open in Bath this year Dough was set up by two pizza pros from southern Italy and offers something genuinely different: bases as interesting and flavour-packed as their toppings
In a nutshell
A pizzeria serving flavoured dough bases – and dessert pizzas – made by a pizza ‘acrobat’ may sound gimmicky but this new restaurant and take-away, which opened in Bath this summer, is anything but.
The acrobat – he’s a whizz at tossing pizza dough – is Puglian expat Emiliano Tunno. With the backing of his southern Italian compatriot, Massimo Nucaro (who has been serving freshly made pizzas on the music festival scene for the last 15 years), Tunno offers diners a brave new spin on the nation’s favourite wood-fired comfort food.
The restaurant’s strapline – “it’s all about the base “ – neatly summarises the concept. Before you even think about toppings, start by selecting your dough: there are standard and gluten-free varieties plus versions spiked with seaweed, turmeric, kamut, hemp, multi-grain or grano arso (no, not what you’re thinking – it’s a throwback to Puglia’s cucina povera that translates as “burnt grain”, and has a slightly bitter flavour made by mixing a traditional flour with one that has been gently charred).
Innovative, yes, gimmicky no. The flavoured doughs (each a couple of quid more than a pizza made with standard dough) were selected after a long period of trial and error and each one is subtle and logical, designed to add an extra layer of flavour rather than generate publicity.
If you’re a traditionalist try a classic Ham and Mushroom pizza with a standard dough. If you’re craving something slightly different, there’s the Smokey, with mozzarella, curls of speck, smoked mozzarella and rosemary. Or go off-menu altogether: our prawn, courgette, pink peppercorn, feta, paprika and fried rocket topping – suggested by Tunno as a pairing for the seaweed base – was sensational. More delicately maritime than a marinara, it demonstrated in one bite how pizza can be elevated to much more than humble street food.
We also tried a meaty Calabresi, its puddles of mozzarella, pepperoni, peppers, ‘nduja and a drizzle of chilli oil providing the perfect, fiery, foil for the golden crunch of a turmeric base (slow-fermented for 60 hours before being cooked, to let those flavours really ripen). If you want to go in the opposite direction, the Vegetariana is a riot of grilled or sun-dried Mediterranean veg (aubergine, courgette, peppers, tomatoes) and vegan cheese can be substituted for mozzarella should you want to take it a dairy-free step further.
What’s the space like?
Simple but smart with plenty of light thanks to its sandwiched position; there are windows and doors onto pedestrianised ‘lanes’ on both sides of the restaurant (one is historic Northumberland Place, the other a covered passageway called The Corridor). In Bath terms you can’t get more central but being away from motorised traffic makes for a discreet dining experience.
Sit on The Corridor side for the best views of the open kitchen (and those acrobatics) or go for a slightly more café-like vibe on the Northumberland Place side. Either way, you’ll be eating on simple wooden tables, perched on either painted grey Ercol-style chairs or padded teal banquettes. Giant bare-bulb pendant lights and two shimmering metallic feature walls complete a subtle nod to retro styling.
Menu must-eats and misfires
We started with another surprise, pizza fritta. This is not as radical as it sounds; traditionally, when Neapolitans make pizzas at home they pan-fry them. I’m not a fan of fried food in general – for no more wholesome reason than I don’t especially like the taste and texture of it – so this was never going to be a favourite with me. But it went down well with my companion, who demolished the chef’s selection of four different toppings (mushroom and ham, roast veg, tuna and olives, prosciutto crudo) quicker than I could say ‘pass me a Peroni’. If you like the sharing concept but would rather pass on the fried base, Dough also does a main course pizza, the Poker, that’s shaped like a star, each point holding a different topping.
One thing I am a big fan of is salad and there is definitely scope for Dough to up their game here. There was nothing wrong with our salad – a windfall of mixed leaves and cherry tomatoes topped by gooey, super-fresh mozzarella and a splash of balsamic dressing. Against a backdrop of dazzlingly re-imagined pizza, however, this conventional and unexciting side order fell a little short.
What else did you like?
The most basic Margherita here is a thing to behold, its blistered base just deep enough to give a bit of bite, its homemade tomato, mozzarella and basil topping a simple slick of southern Italian sunshine.
And, while they’re missing a trick in parent-rammed Bath not to have a dedicated children’s menu with a piccolo pizza or pasta and gelato for around the £6 mark (thereby filling that tricky early-evening slot), Tunno and Nucaro will willingly serve a kid’s pizza if you ask. At £7.95 it’s more than you’d pay for fussy-eating toddlers but good value for slightly older children. Especially when it comes, as ours did, with exquisitely moulded bunny ears.
Even if you don’t give a stuff about flavoured crusts, go anyway. It would be hard to claim pizza as a health food but Dough’s, with their fine, superfood-speckled bases and carefully sourced toppings, taste far lighter than your average wodge of cheese-molten stodge.
The most obvious benefit, however, is not a health one but the subtle but perceptible depth of flavour the bases add. These can be exaggerated or minimised to suit: bury the seaweed beneath a spicier, meatier topping than our gentle marine feast and you’d lose its woody, umami undertones.
Written by Rhiannon Batten, November 2016
Photographs by Paolo Ferla
14-16 The Corridor