Cowabunga - Best Pizza on the Island, Made by Big and Little Toms
“We’re not just a takeaway place on the island, we’re a dining destination. We’re the only authentic, Neapolitan pizza restaurant in Colchester. We’re family focused and want to be a place where families feel comfortable going. Our food is affordable, and parents don’t need to feel conscious about bringing their children. We’re fun, welcoming and pay attention to detail. It’s informal dining in a modern, relaxing setting”.
Mersea Island is a hub of seafood restaurants and takeaways, but Cowabunga goes against the tide and brings something new to the island. Their modern pizza diner opened in October 2018 and has gone from strength to strength. Big Tom and Little Tom are the faces behind the business, and they’re also brothers-in-law making it a family affair. Both Toms have always had a passion for pizza and have worked in the industry for many years.
Big Tom worked for Pizza Express for over 13 years, starting as a pot washer at 17 and worked his way up to be a Regional Trainer, where he visited new restaurants around the country and helped them with their launch. Big Tom wanted a break from the pizza business and started working at a fine dining restaurant in Berkshire, but decided it wasn’t for him. After this, he started a new endeavor with the University of Essex. Tom became Operations Manager at the uni and was there for 7 years. Missing the pizza life, Tom managed to open a long-awaited pizza stall in one of the squares at the university, where he employed his brother-in-law to help him. The stall turned out to be hugely successful. They started out with one mobile pizza oven, a Roccbox, that cooks the pizza in 80 seconds, before getting two more due to the demand. Little Tom started out working in bars abroad before having his own nacho stall around Colchester and working the food festivals. Both Toms have food in their blood and after the success of the stall at the uni, they wanted to expand on that and make something for themselves.
After the pizza triumph at the University, both Toms were thirsty for more. They wanted to open a place where everything works in harmony - good service, value for money and the right atmosphere. Being family orientated and knowing the struggle to find somewhere affordable for families to eat, their main ambition was to create a place which fitted with this ethos. Big and Little Tom wanted to share their love for pizza and show how you can make amazing products with quality ingredients. One of the most important things for Cowabunga and the continued progression of the business, is the pizza dough. They make their own bases and allow a good length of time to ferment properly which makes all the difference to the overall taste and texture of the product.
So why the name Cowabunga? Coincidently, it was Little Tom’s first word as he used to love watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but it also derives from a Hawaiian phrase, satisfaction. Something you will certainly feel after you have eaten one of their pizzas! One of the things they’re most proud of is how they have ‘re-branded’ the standard pepperoni pizza on the island. No one ever asks for a pepperoni pizza, they ask for a Cowabunga. Which, after a period of 7 months, is pretty impressive as it means they have made their mark!
Other than a dining destination and being able to takeaway their pizzas, Cowabunga also do pizza parties for adults and children, special offer days where you can get bottomless pizza and prosecco are also available to book for private parties and weddings! They’re a growing business and as a family business, are always thinking of ways to expand the brand. They have also started renovating a shack next to the Two Sugars Cafe near Seaview where, on sunny days, you will be able to purchase a small pizza to enjoy on the beach! These will be cooked in a Roccbox, meaning you will be able to have a slice of heaven in just 80 seconds!
If you’re looking to support a local, family business, don’t hesitate to visit the guys at Cowabunga. The pizza is certainly the best I’ve eaten anywhere in England and tastes so authentic. The interior is fresh, modern and clean, but most of all, so welcoming. The two Toms are genuine, nice guys who work with integrity and passion.
Thanks for having us!