In the year-and-a-half I've lived in Banbury, I must have walked past Pizza Calzone a hundred times, always meaning to go in. From the outside, the restaurant is quite unassuming, tucked away on one of Banbury's side streets - but the food that I'd seen through the window always looked appealing.
My partner and I finally made it to the restaurant last Sunday, for a late Valentine's meal. The restaurant wasn't busy, but the atmosphere was upbeat and buzzing, the waiters cheerfully moving from table to table carrying drinks, pizzas, and the restaurant's signature calzones. (One of them even sang as he whisked between the kitchen and the restaurant floor).
We were seated quickly, and looked through the extensive menu. My partner was pleased to see that there were plenty of vegetarian options, and we soon settled on a pair of pizzas, with a starter of garlic bread.
The service at Pizza Calzone was quick, but not rushed, the waiters attentive without being overbearing. The restaurant itself is unpretentious, the kind of place where you can meet friends and family for a casual meal, but was bright and welcoming - extremely so. While we were waiting for our food, a group of twelve turned up and asked if it would be possible to fit them in. With a 'the more the merrier' attitude, the waiting staff immediately leapt into action, moving tables around until there was space for the large party.
Our starter of garlic pizza bread was savoury and buttery, with a crisp, flour-dusted crust, and disappeared very quickly. The only drawback is that it was very filling, meaning that we could only tackle half of our enormous pizzas. My partner had chosen the Quattro Formaggi, and concluded that it was possibly the best pizza he'd ever eaten. I decided on the Contadina, a pepperoni pizza with mushrooms and a sprinkling of artichoke hearts that provided a tart counterbalance to the heartiness of the meat. Our waiter was happy to box the remains up for us, while giving us a good-natured ribbing about our inability to find room for dessert.
Pizza Calzone is a friendly restaurant with a cheerful family atmosphere, which takes pride in making its customers welcome and filling them to the brim with fresh and flavourful Italian food. It also pays attention to accessibility needs - many of our fellow customers had mobility issues, which the staff accommodated quickly and smoothly. I'll certainly be going back - and next time, I won't let the portion sizes beat me.