Wednesday, September 26, 2007

URBAN SOUL, Williamstown, wood fire pizza

[Originally published 30 June 2006]

Address: 68 Stevedore St, Williamstown
Tel.: (03) 9397 6601
Open: Wed-Sun 4pm-late
Kids: Room for a pram if you book, which you are advised to on a Sat. They also have highchairs.

Prices: $10 vegetarian, $13-$14 meat, $15 seafood (standard sizes)
License: Currently BYO but license is on the way
Parking: free in street and in Cox’s Garden opposite

Ok, so trendy pizza with the ‘less is more’ attitude to toppings is hardly new, but out here in the west we’re a bit deprived. I’m happy to report that we’ve finally got our first groovy pizza café in Williamstown. (Sam’s Boatshed also does wood fire pizza, but you wouldn’t call it groovy…)

The modern interior design was done by some local designer, but the owners didn’t like the feature wall and so put their own up to cover it! Bare plywood is mounted on the whole left hand wall like an empty canvas just waiting for splatterings of pizza sauce and rejected ingredients the unruly kids didn’t like, not to mention sneezes from my 4 month old bubba in an ode to Pro Hart. Otherwise, funky green paint and a banquette seat lining one wall are the features in this chic (for pizza) café.

Pizzas. I’ve tried at least 8 of them so far, both eaten in and taken away, and they’ve all been good. The crusts are all thin so a standard size is not too much for one. There’s a few interesting ingredient combinations like #10 which has lime peppered chicken, crispy bacon and corn kernels with mozzarella & sour cream and a napoli base. Other out of the ordinary gourmet toppings include fresh pineapple, baby spinach, fior di late (cheese, like a big bocconcini), roasted pumpkin, fresh basil leaves, fresh chives, white bait, tandoori chicken, caramelised onion, goats cheese, fetta, walnuts, and sweet potato.

The best pizza I've tried is #19 – prawns & scallops, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella drizzled with basil pesto and a napoli base. The prawns are decent sized, the scallops are small but fresh and the pesto gives it oomph.

However, if you’re not into seafood on pizza, next best is either #15 (hot calabresi salami, roasted peppers, crushed olives, mozzarella drizzled with basil pesto and a napoli base), or if you like it fairly simple, #16 (prosciutto, mushroom, cherry tomatoes with fior di latte & mozzarella with a napoli base).

Vegetarians will marvel at no less than 7 vegetarian options, plus there’s another 3 seafood selections including tuna, smoked salmon and whitebait.

Of the 20 pizzas on offer, there are only 7 with meat and not a single shred of nasty pizza ham in sight. But don’t get me wrong, the meat options are delicious too! I have actually tried #10 and it was good – you just need to put the corn thing out of your mind, close your eyes and enjoy!

There are also 4 salads on the menu and the other week there was some offer in the local paper where you got a free side salad - information which they happily volunteered and gave us the salad anyway!

There’s also a couple of desserts to choose from, freshly made on the premises. So fresh in fact that my lime tart wasn’t set properly, a fact they warned me of, but at 7.30pm I felt within my rights to be disappointed. I’m sure it was just a teething issue in the first 2 weeks of trading.

Coffee: well by rights it should be ok as it is Grinders, but let’s face it, you don’t go there for the coffee. Ours tasted burnt.

Service was very good both times, always exceptionally friendly. Then again, we tend to get lots of strangers talking to us now that we dine with bubs in tow.

I know there is also some deal going on with the video shop around the corner where you pay about $35 and you get 10 video/dvd rental deals and 5 take away pizzas. Given this and the location just off Douglas Pde, they are clearly aiming themselves at the local market, however, given the western desert for flash pizza, the market is big.

In summary, yes I’d go there again and it has now become our standard source for take away.