Review: The Hearth, Lewes

I could quite happily eat pizza daily, in fact, I used to when I was a waitress at Pizza Express.  Back in those days my diet consisted of a full English in the morning, a pizza at lunch time (plus numerous slices throughout the shift) shitloads of cigarettes and espressos and very little, if anything for supper- and I weighed about eight stone!

Fastforward 8 years and I still have a major soft spot for pizza (though sadly not the same metabolism), and Pizza Express, and actually it’s pretty much the only place in Brighton I’ll go out to eat it, as everywhere else is pretty ghastly.  Until now…

Brighton food blogger/friend/Italian/Pizza snob Fran, from the Graphic foodie, was, to put it mildly, disgusted with the standard of pizza available in East-Sussex and ranted daily (sometimes hourly) about it on Twitter.  She was contacted by local artisan baker Michael from The Hearth and invited by him to see how he was doing things at his pizzeria in Lewes.

After wowing her with his cornicione Fran, also totally disgusted by my love of Pizza Express, started campaigning for me to pay The Hearth a visit.

I’m not going to beat about the bush, I absolutely loved it, so much so that I visited again five days later with my Mum- I’ll be talking about both visits in this review.

They have the menu above as well as a specials board which is updated frequently, with special pizzas and the occasional pasta dish too. I think this is just right, I loathe going to restaurants with pages and pages of pasta, salad and ‘grill’ options, it screams ‘jack of all trades and master of none’.  This place is very clearly a Pizzeria through and through- and proud!

These are the starters from the specials board, the ‘ciccetti’, and I had them on both visits they were that good, and at a tenner for four I think they’re extremely good value.

The chorizo in red wine was the best- rich, tasty with a soft texture, I could have eaten bowls and bowls of it, and in fact I dipped the creamy, mild mozzarella into the residual sauce- heavenly.

The bruschetta may not look like much but it’s fantastic.  The flavoursome tomato sauce melted into the slightly warm bread and complemented the anchovies perfectly. God I love those salty little fish.

My least favourite of the four were the garlic mushrooms- they were perfectly lovely, just the least remarkable of the dishes. We had the baked chickpeas (top pic) and the olives as extras.

Napoletana

Oh my word, this was gooood, and everything that Fran had said it would be.  The crust was airy, crispy and chewy and no hint of sogginess to the base.  There was a perfect amount of toppings, meaning that not one flavour dominated the entire pizza and every mouthful was slightly different.  10/10.

Calzone

For me (and my dinner date) this was the most disappointing thing we ate.  Don’t get me wrong, we scoffed down every last mouthful and it was tasty, it just wasn’t as mindblowingly excellent as everything else.  My main beef with it was the fact that the cheese inside hadn’t melted at all, so when we cut into it there were cubes of uncooked mozzarella that were barely warm.  They could have been a bit more generous with the amount of meat inside too.  I had this on my first visit and still returned almost immediately so it definitely wasn’t a dealbreaker- I just wouldn’t order it again.

I had another go at forcing myself to like beetroot, trying a large mouthful of the pickled beetroot that adorned the salad, but, to no avail. I just cannot stand the stuff- bleurgh.

Dalai Lama

I had this on my return visit and it was fabulous.  I think it’d been cooked for less time than the Napoletana so was very slightly less crispy, but I still loved every bite.

American with extra rocket

 On Weds and Thursday they do a Happy ‘hour’ between 5 and 6:30, where you get a free 7″ pizza with every 12″ pizza ordered.  My Mum had been eyeing up the smaller ones anyway (god knows where I get my insatiable appetite from) and the deal was sealed once she found out it’d be gratis!  I didn’t try any, but she said it was ‘sublime’.

Tequilamisu

A spin off of the traditional Italian dessert, Tiramisu (see what they did there) this, despite it’s luxurious ingredients, was surprisingly light and the perfect follow up to our carb heavy feast. Highly recommended.

Rich, creamy and incredibly decadent, strangely I found this sat a lot heavier with me than the tequilamisu, although this may be cos I ate the whole thing plus 2/3 of the latter (oink oink). Whilst not enormous it was a perfectly adequate size.  It didn’t have the wobble to it a lot of pana cottas do, it had more the consistency of a dense chocolate mousse or ganache.  I loved it and would definitely order it again.

A special shout out has to go to our waiter- Assistant Manager Jake.  He is an absolute delight- funny, friendly, efficient and chatty, he (and the pizza) absolutely made our evening.  I was thrilled to see he was there on my return visit, where he greeted me like a long lost friend and my Mum was utterly charmed by him too.

If you love a pizza and are up for making the journey to Lewes for your pizza fix, then look no further.

Brightonians– if you don’t fancy travelling outside of BN1 then your luck is in- The Hearth have got a pop up at the spiegeltent in The Old Steine until the end of the week!  Tweet me your pictures or @ me on Instagram if you do, would love to know what you think.

Have you been to the Hearth?  Do you think I’m talking utter nonsense and there are fab places to eat pizza in Brighton that I’m unaware of?  Tweet me or comment below.

Eastgate (opposite Waitrose), Lewes, BN7 2LP
Wednesday – Friday 5pm-11pm and Saturday 12.30pm -11pm

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