The best pizzas in North Oxfordshire?
I’m writing this feature with a smile on my face because, truly, it was such a delight to find The Red Lion in the sleepy village of Steeple Aston (between Banbury and Bicester if you don’t know it). If you’re a regular Muddy reader, you’ll know already that the lifeblood of the blog is to find things in Bucks and Oxon that have something special that lifts them from the ordinary, and here’s a delicious nugget for you.
On first look, The Red Lion in the quiet village of Steeple Aston is just another small, friendly, basic rural pub that caters for locals with its Hooky ales, emerald carpets and TV sports. Despite a functional and light convervatory addition, it wins no design prizes, so if Wallpaper* and Elle Deco are your buddies you’ll have probably walked in and straight out again.
But. But. Buttybuttybuttybutty but.
The Red Lion has a secret weapon up its sleeve, and its deliciously doughy.
Owners Melvin and Sarah (below) had been trying to find a point of difference between their pub and the other local options when they set upon the idea of pizzas.
At the same time they met a pizza specialist from Italy who basically insisted on coming into the pub, and showing them how to create doughy perfection. And this, people, is the result.
The dough is rolled to order so it’s totally fresh, and what you end up with are absolutely massive, gloriously tasted, thin-crusted, stone-baked pizzas of perfection. My two smallest could have shared one in retrospect but why make them when they only cost under a tenner?!
For afters we shared a fab sorbet with a tempura batter that went down well too.
The other lovely quirky thing about The Red Lion is its bookshop, a room at the end of the pub that sells second hand books for charity. The kids happily bounded off down to have a look, and they all came back with books for 50p or £1.
As befits a local pub, kids and dogs are allowed, and if you’re local enough to Steeple Aston you’ll be delighted to know there’s a takeaway service for those pizzas. If you’re from further afield and wondering why you’d ever be in the area, Steeple Aston (whose church doesn’t have a steeple actually, just in case you’re getting excited about that) is close to Rousham Gardens, so if you have a pizza fetish you can head there.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Pizza freaks. You are going to love them. Book lovers who like a rummage.
Not for: General gastropubbers. The Red Lion is prettily bunted but it’s not a glamour or foodie destinatio – the pizzas are definitely the star of the show here.
££: Good value. Tuesday is Steak Night – sirloin steak and fries plus a glass of house wine for only £12. Pizzas veer between the £7.95 marguerita to the £12.95 meat feast. Sunday roasts are £12-14.