A big slice of atmosphere at Ristorante Piatto, Beccles

PUBLISHED: 11:40 25 March 2010 | UPDATED: 11:43 28 February 2013

The colourful interior of Beccles' favourite Italian restaurant

The colourful interior of Beccles' favourite Italian restaurant

There is something for everyone at a fun pizza and pasta place in Beccles, says Sarah Brealey

Its funny how your tastes in pizza change. When I was a schoolgirl the last word in pizza excellence was the Deep Pan Pizza chain remember them? They closed down more than ten years ago, a victim of the trend towards thin crust and more upmarket eating. But for a 15-year-old, their all-you-can eat buffets or cheap takeaway deals, which my friend Sarah and I used to feast on after school, were great.
Then there was Pizza Hut, whose lunchtime buffet succeeded it as the last word in value. And after that there was Pizza Express, the like of which I had not seen before, whose run-of-the-mill name belied the sophistication that lay within. To my slightly older teenage eyes, this was a proper restaurant, not just a pizza joint.

Obviously I was not the only one whose tastes were changing, because now there are all kinds of Pizza Express look-a-likes the Zizzis and the Prezzos and the Asks. These days I tend to think the last word in pizza should come from a wood-fired oven in an independent restaurant, preferably in Italy. (Yes, someone shoot me now.)
And Ristorante Piatto in Beccles does remind me of some of the places I used to like. Pizzas come in a choice of deep pan or thin and crispy. You can even get a stuffed crust or garlic bread base for a little extra and I cant think of anywhere but Pizza Hut that does that.
But I think most people, 15 or 115, would find something to like about Ristorante Piatto. So deep pan pizzas might not be trendy any more, but three of my companions chose to order them I reckon Pizza Express is missing a trick.
Ristorante Piatto is also big on atmosphere, especially at weekends when the place gets packed. The owner Luigi is a larger-than-life character and this is a great place for a group celebration.
The decor is almost worth a visit in itself, with artificial vines wreathing the ceiling and pictures on every square inch of wall, including a remake of the Last Supper featuring actors from Charlie Chaplin to Marilyn Monroe via Cary Grant.
I started with the minestrone soup, an Italian classic. This one was very tomatoey, with some bits of vegetable and pasta, plus pieces of toasted ciabatta drizzled with olive oil. My companions loved their stuffed mushrooms, with garlic and cheese, one of three mushroomy starters. And there are plenty of other choices, like a simple bruschetta with tomato and cheese, or a thin and crispy garlic bread.
When it comes to main courses, the story does not end with pizza. There are all kinds of pasta dishes, even an oriental version. My lasagne was home-made and substantial, topped with a layer of cheese and creamy white sauce. You can even get it with chips (there is salad as an alternative), though to be honest Luigi is better with pasta than he is with potatoes the chips were a little flabby.
Penne with chicken and pesto came with lashings of creamy pesto-flavoured sauce, while the pizzas were pronounced excellent. They have almost every pizza topping you can think of, but the biggest thumbs up went to the special pizza with ham, mushrooms, onions and pineapple. The deep pan option comes with a chunky crust, so unless you are a serious crust-lover, the stuffed crust option might be worth considering.
For dessert there is home-made tiramisu, which was declared delicious, or sticky toffee pudding or chocolate cake or an ice-cream sundae. But for my money the dessert of choice has to be a whole half-litre tub of Ben and Jerrys ice-cream in exciting flavour combinations, perfect for two to share and only 4.25, which is not much more than you would pay in a shop.
They do take-away too, but that would be to miss half the fun of Ristorante Piatto.

Ristorante Piatto, 23 Smallgate, Beccles Tel: 01502 711711

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