Pizzarium, Roma

There are certain places…

photo 1That are institutions in the restaurant industry. Places like DOC in Melbourne, Da Michele in Naples,  Di Fara in New York City, and of course Pizzarium in Rome. Mind the walk (15 mins from Vatican City), mind the heat (August in Rome nudges 40c), mind the neighbourhood (ghetto) and mind the wait in line, because Pizzarium serves up some historic (the starter used is several hundred years old) pies.

photo 5Inside, a sort of hole-in-the-wall that sells pizza by the kilo and serves up a variety of pies from classics with barebones pomodorini to exotics such as ricotta and blueberries and everything inbetween. Also on the menu, various suppli and arancini can also be had. During our visit (The month of July), we learned Bonci will only serve vegetarian, a rare move for restaurants in Rome to show their support for local farmers.

Be prepared to wait if arriving on normal meal hours, because confining an armada of clientele into a place so small is never going to be efficient. Nevertheless, what makes Gabriele Bonci’s pizza so decadent is his ancient recipe for dough, which centres around burrato flour from antico mulino, the product of stone-grinding artisan methods.

photo 3Pizzas do vary wildly. In our visit, the menu was 100% vegetarian and pies such as this one with fresh ricotta e zucchini with a dash of lemon juice really satiated hungry appetites on such a stifling Rome day.

photo 2Others, such as boiled potato and a sharp cheese (Didn’t catch the sort) also impressed. What makes them so special? The dough, crisp on the outside, light and spongey in the centre, is not one you’re likely to find anywhere, let alone Rome which prides itself on its wafer crusts.

photo 4The arancini and suppli were a nice treat as well, obviously not their core competency but a fabulous accompaniment to what should be a scheduled visit on any Rome stop. If you want to learn the classic from the master, you can purchase his book, or check this out.


Via della Meloria, 43 Roma


Ristorante La Gattabuia, Roma

After 24 hours in the air…

photo 1We weren’t feeling too adventurous when it came to researching dinner. After meeting with my sister B, and her husband D, we decided to take the short cab from Centro Storico in Rome to Trastevere, what was one a hip and trendy spot for local diners to escape the tirade of tourists and eat Roman soul food with themselves.

La Gattabuia serves up such local classics, but with their antique wood burning ovens also serve out a variety of pizzas including their trademark Gattabuia which includes porcini and truffle, and other classics such as brocoletti and salsiccia.

photo 4I went for my standard when in Italy, Margherita con prosciutto crudo.

photo 3It was a pretty straightforward number for Rome, extra thin crust that flakes as you eat with a nice and conservative dose of toppings and a high char (Perhaps too high).

They also serve some local tap, and artisan beers.

photo 5It’s perhaps a shame that the area has fallen victim to a swell of tourists, as invariably the food will be taken down a notch as a result. Maybe its Anthony Bourdain’s constant ramblings on The Layover (Roma Sparita is also in Trastevere). The food, however, was good. Worth the trip if you’re keen to see the area… Although perhaps not so if you are looking for something extra special. Sorry for the lame phone pictures, after travelling for so long I left my camera in the hotel room!

Ristorante La Gattabuia
Via del Porto 1, Trastevere Roma

The Spotted Mallard

Same day, same drill..

4K6A1794Off into Melbourne’s abyss with the unreachable task of continually indulging in burgers that impress us more than the last. This particular cold, windy Tuesday night saw myself, J, JW, and T take a journey along the unlikeliest of all places to get a burger fix: Sydney Rd. Known more for it’s unnecessary vandalism and continual “unfortunate” insurance fires, we thought we’d take the hint left by a friend and check it out.

Intially, when you board the high wooden stairs you’re transported into a jazz room of sorts, albeit one with an expansive seating arrangement and even more expansive ceiling line.

4K6A1796Sitting down, we thought we’d try the signature “Spotted Mallard Wagyu Beef and Bacon Burger”: A concoction of 200grams of Wagyu beef coupled with streaky bacon, gruyere, onions, pickles, chipotle mayo and brioche.

4K6A1797The verdict? I guess if you can give full marks to mediocrity, it would score perfectly. That’s not to say that this was a bad burger, ney, it was perfectly fine. Edging on the ‘fish ‘n chip’ (as opposed to American) take on hamburgers, it was adequately greasy (complete with grease-proof paper – a necessity) and the sort of chopped iceberg lettuce you’d expect on the corner shops of old. It’s just that, on this particular night, we’d expect more from a place that gained the fabled ‘Go Now!’ appellation on that burger blog, and unfortunately, it just didn’t live up to it. The patty? All class, cooked to perfection, medium pink and just itching to be eaten. It marries perfecly to the saltiness of the streaky bacon, and the gruyere cheese is unmissable. The chipotle mayo? I guess the peppers were more of an afterthought, as they were all-together forgotten about (And yes, i make my own). The triple cooked planks of potato, only seethe clientele because it’s all too easy to simply dry them out.. I’m still not convinced, and would have preferred the much more traditional french fries.

The good news? Under it’s current guise it’s only been open since 2012, so improvements and refinements are sure to be had. A starting point? Those damn chips. Whilst they’re not the only offenders (I still think Huxtaburger’s are awful, and everyone could take a leaf out of The Merrywell, or Beatbox) it’s sure to be one of those places, where if evolution keeps ticking along, it will be one to watch in the future.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely, if you’re in the area or keen to try something that doesn’t dare adventure beyond the tried and tested recipe for success then this place will leave you more than satiated.

The Spotted Mallard
314 Sydney Rd, Brunswick VIC
The Spotted Mallard on Urbanspoon