I have driven past The Artizan pub for several years on my way to Step by Step Dance school in neighbouring Henry Street, barely giving it a second glance.
So when my friend suggested we head there one evening not just for a drink, but a meal, I did a double take as it had never appealed to me.
How wrong I was. The pub, which has a traditional sign of a cobbler at work – reflecting Northampton’s boot and shoe trade – was closed last autumn and given a total refit by its new owner, Tom Hewer. Mr Hewer also owns Frank’s Steakhouse in Wellingborough Road, along with WH Thomas butchers in Ecton, and is due to open another Frank’s Steakhouse in Watling Street, Towcester, by the end of this year.
Entrepreneur Hewer has worked his magic on The Artizan and it is now a trendy pub, offering excellent pizzas to eat in or take away.
And if you’ve ever eaten at Frank’s, you will want to eat here...although the only steak is on the pizzas.
My first visit to the recently re-opened pub, which has dropped the word ‘Arms’ from its name but retained the sign featuring a cobbler at work, was on a packed Friday night with a couple of friends and I enjoyed our pizzas so much, I headed back there for a mid-week meal with my partner.
The decor is warm and inviting, with a wood-burning stove, revamped leather Chesterfield sofas and chairs – spray painted with the Union Jack – offering comfy seating combined with high bar stools and tables, plus old trunks as tables in other corners.
It is the sort of place where you’ll see couples enjoying a cosy night out, alongside people on their own having a quiet drink with a good book, to larger groups of friends sharing laughs.
The entrance has been moved to the front of the pub and a glass door has been added so people can see inside , which has kept its traditional feel by still showing rugby games and serving local ales and ciders.
We didn’t arrive until nearly 9pm and the large stone pizza oven had unfortunately just been turned off. But the friendly and extremely helpful staff saw our hunger pangs and kindly fired it back up so we could choose our pizzas and place our order quickly.
The choice isn’t massive and it would be good to see a few more pizzas there without such strong flavour combinations. But you can opt for a traditional tomato and cheese base – the Margarita – and add toppings of your choice, if you don’t fancy anything on the menu.
I plumped for a steak, mushroom and blue cheese pizza at £7, with the pulled pork and japapeno pizza for my boyfriend at £6. He had extra meat on his for another £2.
One diet coke for me at £1.60 and a pint of tap water for my driver and we relaxed into a snug Chesterfield two-seater while our pizzas were cooking.
Kieran was suffering from “hangry pains” where he was getting tetchy at not eating for hours and worrying that what he thought would be a small pizza wouldn’t be enough to satiate his appetite. He needn’t have worried as the pizzas were a good size and so tasty he decided to order another one to takeaway and have for his lunch the following day.
My pizza was delicious too and the combination of flavours worked really well. Again, I wasn’t disappointed with my visit to a pub I have always overlooked, but never will again.
Value for money: Excellent
Food: Very tasty
Service: Friendly and helpful
Disabled access: Good
Parking: Tricky. Busy housing area so depends if there are spaces free nearby.
51 Artizan Road,
Total cost: £24.60