Bobby’s opened its smart doors in March, the new owners taking over Oliver’s Pub and Bar – a fine, solid building apparently at an entrance to the old fortifications surrounding Gosport built by Charles II in 1677.
These days, thanks to its makeover, the casual modern restaurant is minimalistically decorated with frosted windows, green and pale yellow walls and tongue-and- groove panelling.
The on-view kitchen by the outdoor terraced seating boasts swish double-deck pizza ovens which dominate its back wall.
I am told that one of the chefs has a pizza chain pedigree, his job one of ensuring quality and adherence to the standards set by the company. Naturally, pizzas feature heavily to get the most out of the owners’ investment.
The homemade stone-baked thin-crust’s toppings include Margherita, £1 cheaper than those at Pizza Express, and Americana ‘with a generous amount of pepperoni’ nearly £2 less. There is a ham and mushroom one as well as seafood, Mediterranean Vegetable and Cajun Hot & Spicy. Or create your own for £7.95 or £8.95 depending on the number of the sky’s-the-limit toppings.
But it’s not all pizza. Pasta comes in the shape of Bolognese, lasagne, chicken penne, carbonara and linguini. Or go for the chargrills; a ribeye with fries or wedges and trimmings at £12.95. There’s also a loin of pork with a grain mustard sauce which is the cheapest grill at £8.95.
Others include sirloin (£13.50), salmon, chicken and a homemade burger in a stone-baked bun.
Start with maybe a prawn cocktail or roasted vegetable bruschetta, or garlic prawns among other choices.
Naturally, I had to have one of those proper pizzas from the ovens, with a Margherita winging its way to my table.
Recently, I’ve found the Pizza Express ones to be not up to scratch, but this one, thanks to copious, well-sourced mozzarella and tomato, was exceptional. There was bags of flavour on the perfect crust.
Making something as simple as pizza cries out for all the right ingredients as there’s nowhere to hide, and the same goes for the toppings: choose quality and you’ll have them queuing around the block. A red Wolf Blass (an ungreedy £3 for 125ml) from the small alcohol list went down well with this.
Desserts are always tricky to get right after a pizza or pasta dish as most of them are rather heavy. None of the menu’s desserts, all at £4.95, seemed the answer. Sticky toffee pudding after all those carbs? Pecan pie? Chocolate brownie? Honeycomb fudge sundae or Bobby’s giant chocolate sundae would have floored me.
A pavlova with a raspberry sauce and crème chantilly came to the rescue. The meringue was homemade and the fruit added a welcome tartness.
The service from the young women was warm and helpful. I mention this because of its comparative rarity. They’re not huddled together ignoring the customer or looking bored. Refreshing.
And so is Bobby’s. This new place refreshes the concept. There’s just good, honest quality food made to a high standard and served with charm. People of Gosport, you’re the lucky ones. My bill came to £12.45 not including a tip. They serve a 7in pizza at lunchtimes, hence the lower bill.
Bobby’s, 18 Stoke Road, Gosport, PO12 1JB,(023) 92 52 3003. Open every day from 10.30am-3pm, 5.30-10pm (different hours on Sunday).
Food: Four (out of Five stars)
Service: Four stars
Atmosphere: Four stars
Disabled access: There’s a few steps up once inside the entrance.
How to get there: Take the M27, exit at Fareham and Gosport and follow signs to Gosport. Turn right on to Spring Hill Gardens then right on to Stoke Road. There’s on-street parking.