Posts Tagged ‘Pizza Battle’
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
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.)
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
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 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.
Northcote, 3070 urbanspoon foursquare
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!
We had so much fun doing our last (ramen) food battle that we’ve decided to do another one. This time, we’re migrating from the Far East to the shores of the Mediterranean. Welcome to the Pizza Battle, we weigh on what the Best Pizza in Melbourne is.
According to our good friend wikipedia:
Pizza (pronounced /ˈpiːtsə/ ( listen) or /ˈpiːdzə/; Italian: [ˈpit.tsa]) is an oven-baked, flat, disc shaped bread usually topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella and then a selection of meats, salamis, seafood, cheeses, vegetables and herbs depending on taste and culture.
Originating in Neapolitan cuisine, the dish has become popular in many different parts of the world.
Note: The places we are reviewing are gourmet pizza bars. Pizza is as divisive as ramen, if not more so, and many variants exist. We like gourmet pizza, we think it tastes great, we don’t care if you don’t think it’s authentic enough because we like it. If you don’t like gourmet pizza then you can feel free to ignore this battle.
By way of explanation, I am aware that pizza, traditionally, is an everyman’s food in Italy. Great. But we aren’t in Italy, we’re in Melbourne and Melbourne has it’s own culinary traditions. And many of those culinary traditions are derived from stealing and appropriating other people’s food. Other Anglo-Saxon cultures have made a mint of this, look at Britain’s chicken tikka masala and America’s tex-mex? AND WHY NOT?
Food doesn’t have to be traditional or authentic to taste good, it just has to taste good, and what we’re after is the best tasting damn pizza in Melbourne. Whether it’s a simple thin-base napolitana or named after a Jean-Luc Godard film or has half a litre of buffalo mozarella on it, we want to eat it.
So here’s our list:
- D.O.C. (Carlton)
- Barbagallo (CBD)
- +39 (CBD)
- Bande a Part (North Carlton)
- Supermaxi (North Fitzroy)
- Pizza Meine Liebe (Northcote)
- Ladro (Fitzroy)
- Pizza Espresso (Lower Templestowe)
- I Carusi (East Brunswick)
- Mr. Wolf (St. Kilda)
- Woodstock Cafe (North Carlton)
As usual, if there are any glaring omissions please let us know, but given that we already have 11 places to hit up (that’s a lot of pizza) please make sure it’s absolutely on par with our present suggestions.
Since most of the pizzerias above are fairly heavy hitters, we aren’t going to seed like we did last time, instead we’re going to allocate the final spots (3-4) to the pizzerias with the highest overall scores, regardless of who ‘wins’ the heats. Consider it an Olympic-style competition.
Heats will be judged on:
- Pizza Taste.
- Everything Else: ambience, value, service, authenticity.
Finals competitors will be scored more rigorously:
- Doughy Base: Is it deliciously crusty? Deliciously soft? Too much dough or too little? Etc.
- Sauce & Cheese Base: How’s the napolitana? The tomato paste? What sort of cheese is being used and does it cut through properly or does it overpower?
- Other toppings: Olives? Anchovies? Ham? Artichokes? Randomness? How do the toppings taste and how good is the produce being used?
- Everything Else: As above
- Overall: Final Score
Heat 1 (D.O.C., Bande A Part, Barbagallo) will be up soon!