It was 4:30pm on a Friday afternoon when my colleague Sandra and I walked into The Half Moon in Cuxham and were presented with an extensive menu of delicious food options as well as a tempting Specials Board full of yet more tongue tantilising delights.
This is what sets this Pizzeria apart from anywhere else I have been in the local area. Besides being located in a picturesque setting next to the babbling brook within the pretty little village of Cuxham, it is open 7 days a week, serving food from noon until 10pm, and if you arrive too late to be seated for dinner you can opt for Take Away on any of the items on the menu.
Owned by Lunar Restaurants Ltd, The Half Moon is managed by friends Vaska & Gosia and their family team who welcome you with a warm and friendly reception. You feel as if you are being invited into their home as they show you around the contemporarily decorated establishment, which includes an intimate snug, main bar and comfortable dining area, before being shown to our seat to peruse the wine list and choice of lagers and locally brewed ales (Rebellion and Hooky). With mellow music playing softly over the sound system as you relax in the company of your fellow diners, the ambience is one of informal comfort and although modern in its décor the traditional solid beams and uneven walls remind you that you are still sitting in a cosy 16th century country pub.
This is however where the ‘traditional pub’ similarities end, as you won’t get pie and mash here. No, instead you will be treated to a plentiful menu of fine Italian cuisine with a Macedonian twist when it comes to dessert –
“I consumed the best cake I have ever tasted!”
Appetisers include classics such as Dough Balls, Antipasti, which is what we opted for, and Brushetta as well as a few dishes I hadn’t heard of before including Fontina and Caseus (Garlic Bread with mozzarella & smoked ham). Moving onto mains and there’s a choice of beautiful presented and tasty salads, pasta dishes and pizzas all of which are handmade on the premises and cooked in a proper pizza oven for that traditional finish. The choices of toppings are unique and a bit different from the norm. The ‘’Salmone’ for example is topped with baby mozarella, smoked salmon and dill whilst the ‘Roma’ features pecan nuts, gorganzola cheese & spinach. I went for a more classic cheese, spinach and caramelised onion known as the ‘Dulcis’ with the addition of parma ham and as a huge pizza fan, I wasn’t disappointed. The base was light with just the right about of crunch to it and the flavours packed a punch. Sandra, being a pasta lover, choose a classic cannelloni which she found to be expertly cooked and portioned to perfection. On to ‘Suavis’ which translates as ‘something sweet’ and we were recommended to sample the Fig Cake served warm with a cup of Earl Grey tea. Wow! Is all I can say! As someone who doesn’t usually eat dessert I would easily go back for seconds or even thirds of this unbelievably delightful homemade cake. The fluffy, moist sponge is spotted with just the right amount of figs to make this cake sweet without being sickly. It really is a triumph. We also tried Figs in syrup with mascarpone cream and ‘Luxuriae’ – homemade biscuit with walnut & cream filling both of which treated our palette to an explosive sweet sensation!
It is clear from the quality of the very reasonably priced food that the staff at The Half Moon have a passion for food and a love for proper hospitality as they couldn’t be more accommodating of your needs and requests. Specialist dietary requirements can be catered for and child sized portions, you only need to ask.
And on the subject of little people, if you are looking for a birthday treat idea with a difference then why not book a Pizza Party? Your 3-10 year old can invite up to 20 of their friends to get messy with dough and toppings as they create their very own pizzas which will then be cooked up for them in the huge pizza oven ready for them to devour later – what a great birthday party that would be!
For more details on the Pizza Parties or to book a table (recommended on a Friday and Saturday) call 01491 612165 – you will not be disappointed, The Half Moon truly is a hidden gem open for business all day, every day – there’s not many villages that can say that of their local pub.