MSG: The Melbourne Social Guide

Helping you add flavour to this wonderful city.

Pizza Battle – Heat 1

with 14 comments

Original post announcing the battle here. I’ve been apologizing a lot lately and I’ll apologize again. Reason for the supreme belatedness of this post is a combination of tech problems and being super busy. However we’re off and here goes.

The pizzerias reviewed for Heat 1 are:

1. D.O.C. (Carlton)

2. Barbagallo (CBD)

3. Bande a Part (North Carlton)

4. Pizza Meine Liebe (Northcote)

I apologize for photo quality, the dim lighting in these pizzerias did not agree with my Canon Ixus yet again.

1. D.O.C.
295 Drummond St
Carlton, 3053
urbanspoon
foursquare

D.O.C. Pizza and Mozzarella Bar on Urbanspoon

From the team behind Carlton Espresso, D.O.C. is all about authenticity: simple pizza, quality produce and bases, few toppings. The place is also a ‘mozzarella bar’ and features Australian-produced fior di latte and Italian-made mozzarella, as well as an excellent selection of cured meats (bresaola, prosciutto, speck, etc.)

Capricciosa Nuova at Carlton's D.O.C.

We had a capricciosa nuova with tomato, mozarella, leg ham, mushroom, artichoke and olive. Those that frequent the normally terrible Lygon Street pizzerias (ie. Papa Ginos, Notturno, etc.) will be familiar with the capricciosa and although the ingredients look the same, this is of a far better standard. The ham is great quality, none of that weird curly shaved mystery meat type stuff and the mozarella is their beautiful fior di latte (not the shaved one you get in a plastic bag at Coles).

While the service at D.O.C. can sometimes be Roman-style arrogant, brisk and full of swagger, on this occasion we were well served and I have no complaints. Design is nothing to write home about: clean, Mediterranean, stone everywhere. I find the place to be somewhat cramped and somewhat noisy but these are small quibbles, the pizza speaks for itself.

Bonus: Their excellent antipasti, cured meat selections, cheese platters and desserts are also worth trying but, alas, this is a pizza review.

Pizza Taste: 9.

Everything Else: 7.

2. Barbagallo Trattoria e Pizzeria
103 Lonsdale Street,
Melbourne 3000
urbanspoon
foursquare
Barbagallo Trattoria e Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

The self-named new restaurant of Pietro Barbagallo, he of I Carusi (Brunswick East/St. Kilda) and L’Uccelino (Yarraville) fame has started his own joint and they definitely haven’t scrimped on the details. The place is all ostentatious marble, hard wood and the like. The loudness is definitely palpable, the noise basically bounces off the walls, and there are several tables with only stools, not a set-up I’d recommend for eating pizza and paying $20+ for it.

This place has a terrible reputation for service, but if I may disclose, the waitress was a friend of mine, so we got the attention we needed and I have no complaints. However, this may not be indicative of their usual service.

The pizzas don’t have names at Barbagallo but the one we ordered featured tomato, mozzarella, olives, salami cacciatore, olives and roasted peppers and it was pretty awesome. The olives, for example, tasted amazing (for some reason). The base could use some work, the pizza overall tasted a little blander than DOC and the salami failed to live up to DOC’s ham. Having said that, it was still a fantastic pizza and I’m splitting hairs… splitting hairs is something we expect to do a lot during this battle.

I’ve heard excellent things about their pasta too, and their calzoncino (with three types of chocolate: white, milk and dark) was delish. But… we’re all about the pizza here!

Pizza Taste: 8.

Everything Else: 7.

3. Bande A Part
749 Nicholson St,
Carlton North, 3068
urbanspoon
foursquare
Bande à Part on Urbanspoon

Bande A Part is an existential-themed pizza bar named after a Jean-Luc Godard film. As such, a number of menu items and some of the decor are to do with the them (including, for example, the Anna Karina pizza). Before building this list, I had never been to Pizza Meine Liebe (reviewed fourth in this post) and had no idea that Bande A Part was related to the famed Northcote pizza joint, but it appears that a relationship exists, given the similarity in some of the menu items and decor.

While I love existentialism and Godard, I’m not a big fan of Bande A Part. The pizzas that we had were fairly bland affairs, service was indifferent and the atmosphere of the place was cold, despite the best efforts of the decorators (which, by the way, didn’t go that great either, due to the cool 60s minimalist vibe). The biggest problem though, is the menu, which is high on concept and low on delivery and quality, the pizzas we tried were fairly lacklustre, especially when compared to their Italian counterparts rated above. The one pictured above is the Greek pizza (I forget the full name but it’s something suitably quirky) and was the better pizza that we tasted. The base was somewhat too chewy and the toppings too bland for my liking.

Pizza Rating: 5. Lacklustre when compared to the ones above but still preferred to most pizza around the city.

Everything Else: 5. Points for an interesting concept.

4. Pizza Meine Liebe
231 High St
Northcote, 3070
urbanspoon
foursquare

Pizza Meine Liebe on Urbanspoon

As mentioned above, the Northcote stalwart, PML, is also related to Bande A Part, a connection which I had no idea existed until I finally visited PML to do this review. If I had known that the poor quality at BaP would be somewhat repeated at PML then I might have struck one of them off the list but, alas, the pizza is eaten and the reviews are written.

Pizza Meine Liebe has quite a following in Northcote, this place has been around for quite some time and is very popular with the Northern Suburbs hipster set. I don’t really understand what all the fuss is about. The pizzas were decidedly better than their BaP counterparts but still nothing to really write home about. Let me be clear, the bar here is pretty high. If comparing both PML and BaP to Pizza Hut or your neighbourhood pizza joint then of course they’ll come out on top. But when compared to their Italian counterparts rated above, these funky anglo-run hipster joints just don’t stack up. Perhaps it’s a matter of taste but, hey, it’s my review!

I sampled three pizzas here this time, the Jett pictured above being the main one I had. I’m normally a fan of potato-based pizzas, especially when combined with taleggio cheese, but this was a bland affair, swathed in oil and I was sick of it around half way through.

The service and decor here was also much better executed than at Bande A Part. Our waitress was friendly, personable and attentive and the whole place seemed to fit together a lot better, eschewing warmth and comfort (albeit in a somewhat cramped fashion) while combining the elements of the decor well into a good package. Service-wise, I’m aware of the terrible reviews these guys get on urbanspoon and elsewhere but since service was great when I visited I can’t complain.

Note: PML is crazy busy so it’s advised to book for either 6pm or 8pm or take-away (Joe’s Shoe Store next door will have you with a pizza and serve you a pint to boot). Gluten-free bases and toppings are also available here.

Pizza Taste: 7. The pizza here is worth a try, in part to see what all the fuss is about and in part because it’s decent pizza but it just can’t compete with the Italians. Not for my money anyway.

Everything Else: 7.5. Not as loud as the Italians and with friendlier service, you don’t get the ‘authentic Italian atmosphere’ nor are you bathed in opulence but it’s an overall more pleasant place to visit.

So D.O.C. takes out the first heat, just pipping Barbagallo which also stands an excellent chance of making it through to the Final. Stay tuned for Heat 2!

Advertisements

14 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. I’m so glad someone thinks Papa Gino’s is overrated. Seriously, what the hell is supposed to be so good about that place?!

    Furiously adding places to my list of places to visit too. Also, still want to Supermaxi together? All in the interest of MSG-EDS relations you understand 😛

    Gem

    June 23, 2010 at 7:42 am

  2. The same thing is good about Papa Gino’s as what’s good about La Porchetta. But I have no idea what that is.

    Yes yes supermaxi we must do. Just tell me when, yo!

    alexlobov

    June 24, 2010 at 9:48 pm

  3. Must head to D.O.C. Ashamed to say that I have not been! 😦

    penny aka jeroxie

    June 25, 2010 at 12:37 am

    • Dude, DOC Is a must!

      alexlobov

      August 3, 2010 at 3:31 pm

  4. I have to say with the extensive menu’s at PML and Bande a part it really depends on what you order…

    The Tom cooper is the biggest, oiliest and saltiest pile of deliciousness to enter my stomach in a long long time!

    Jono

    July 29, 2010 at 4:51 pm

  5. Also Bande a Parte where doing an amazing pizza with chesnuts, anchovies and caramlised onion a while back that was seriously fantastic.

    These joints are definitelly more hit and miss than the traditional Italian places, often a lot better but often a lot worse.

    Jono

    July 29, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    • Hey Jono,
      Thanks for your thoughts and that’s totally a fair call. Unfortunately, the battle system has its limitations, in that it’s difficult to always order the best thing on the menu. My general philosophy on that is that if you’re a restaurant you need to cater to people who don’t already know which pizzas are considered the best and are not entranced by your reputation. Therefore, everything on the menu should be solid. But I definitely realise that philosophy has its limitations.

      alexlobov

      July 29, 2010 at 6:00 pm

  6. Just make sure you have a Tom Cooper at PML one day that’s all 🙂

    Jono

    July 30, 2010 at 1:48 am

    • Will do for sure! 🙂

      alexlobov

      July 30, 2010 at 3:09 am

  7. […] If you want to see how Alex has got on with the MSG’s epic pizza battle (seriously, these food blogger wanksters have it hard! They eat and eat and eat and eat just so they can tell you where all the cool places are! *wink*) here’s the link to heat one. […]

  8. Being relatively new to the Melbourne eating scene I’ve been trying to hunt down awesome pizza. Looks like this battle could dig up some gold – nice work!

    Tresna

    July 30, 2010 at 10:32 am

    • Cheers! The results of Heat 2 are going up today 🙂

      alexlobov

      July 30, 2010 at 3:28 pm

  9. […] quest to discover the best pizza in Melbourne. If you missed the post explaining how this works and the first heat then click on those there […]

  10. Coming to melbourne from nz shortly for our annual pizza tasting trip. Wonderful articles,Cant wait to see what you say about Woodstock

    Michael

    January 20, 2011 at 5:01 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: