It's a self-diagnosis. That's what happens when all the answers in the universe are only a Google away. For some time now, I've been searching long and hard to identify what exactly I've been feeling in the pit of my stomach. A strange and haunting longing. Indescribable, undeniable. And at long last (okay, so it wasn't that long - Google only took 0.12 seconds), I hit upon the answer - it was a longing for pizza. Perhaps not pizza exactly, but something warm and stodgy to stave off the Deep Freeze that Sydney has been experiencing of late. Crossing a wild ravine would have been easier than walking across the street last week. I was literally up to my ankles in rainwater, and this was just in the CBD. By the time I'd arrived at work I resembled nothing short of a drowned rat, dragging my $10 umbrella in a crumpled heap behind me. Really really could have used something warm right then.
And so we arrive at pizza pangs. Luckily, Sydney has no shortage of the stuff, as I recently discovered. The Corner House on Bondi Rd has one of the best pizzas I've ever tried, called 'Crowded House' which is essentially one large pizza with a different flavour on every quarter. A quarter is piled with spicy salami, provolone cheese and kalamata olives. The next quarter is covered in sauteed mushrooms, cheese and roasted garlic. Next stop is Cheese Central: provolone cheese, torn buffalo mozzarella, basil and olive oil. The final quarter (and the best) is topped with white anchovies, provolone cheese and caramelised brown onions. The saltiness of the anchovies is perfectly offset by the sweet sourness of the onions, creating the perfect flavour marriage. See photographic evidence below.
You may notice a sharp and rusty instrument in the background of this photo. That would be the pair of scissors we used to cut our pizza. You see, in an attempt to be truly rustic (or maybe just rusty), The Corner House serves all of its pizzas unsliced, meaning that patrons can snip away to their heart's content and vary the size of each slice depending on how hungry they're feeling that particular night, or to what extent they prefer mushrooms to anchovies.
Now, E and I just shared a pizza, but everyone else ordered pasta and appeared to be munching away with equivalent levels of happiness, which can only mean that the pasta here is just as good as the pizza!
Some kind of wonderful. To be honest, I have no idea what this is. Some kind of ravioli? Baby peas, assorted herbs and splinters of cheese scattered artfully over the top. It looks pretty anyway. Although I must say I prefer dishes with more height in them, where the food is piled or stacked on the plate. This dish is somewhat flat and you can't help fearing when you see it that the flavours may be just as flat as the dish itself looks. We do eat with our eyes after all.
This was Alaskan king crab and mascarpone ravioli dotted with bright red cherry tomatoes and lashings of fennel. Was apparently quite tasty, according to its eater :)
This one I can actually vouch for! They were salt cod balls, and probably the best ones I've tried. Sort of like a mixture between croquettes and arancini balls, with a satisfyingly fishy interior (chunks of fish fill out the middle) and a crispy thin crumbed exterior that splinters easily with the gentlest prod of your fork. Definitely worth a try.
Would I go back? If it was a cold and rainy night, I was in Bondi, and I felt a pizza pang coming on, then yes, I'd return in a heartbeat. The Crowded House pizza is definitely worth the trek.
The next (and final) stop on our journey to satiate irrepressible pizza pangs is Li'l Darlin, Darlinghurst. A cute and lively tapas joint with a mean pizza streak. The bar / restaurant spills out onto the street (as all good restaurants do) so that the commotion and lively conversation continues on the sidewalk. It's packed most nights, but it's worth waiting around to see if they can squeeze you in.
You order and pay at the bar, after which you are presented with a cheery green pail filled with cutlery, serviettes and a number for your order. Who's instantly impressed? Me!
Cute clipboard menu.
Seared scallops on a cauliflower puree with crispy pancetta and a lime, tomato, brown-nut butter sauce. A great combination of tastes and flavours.
Lamb meatballs. I really loved these (although my dining companions were less than impressed). The accompanying tomato sauce was rich and meaty and gave the meatballs a sweet & spicy kick. For some reason I don't think they're on the menu any more, which is strange, but there you go.
Tomato mozzarella. Classic Italian fare, a very basic dish. Roma tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil and aged balsamic, olive oil. Good, but forgettable.
Crispy Peking Duck Pizza. Literally one of the best pizzas I've ever had. Maybe it's because Peking duck just has its own amazing flavour that tastes good with anything, but I'm more inclined to think it's because the pizza was just put together really well. The sweet strips of duck dripping in hoisin sauce, contrasted with the sharp, clean taste of shallots, fresh cucumber and coriander, is something to behold. Pure genius.
Mexican Nacho Pizza. I think this is the reason I love Victoria St, Darlinghurst. It's just the birthplace of great ideas. Like Gelato Messina next door, serving apple pie and banana bread ice-cream. What could be better than eating a cake in ice-cream form? Same thing here. Nachos - but on top of a pizza. Even better! All the flavours you'd expect from a bowl of chips and gaucamole, but transported to a pizza base, and reborn in different textures and forms. It had spicy beef mince and red beans with diced tomatoes, gaucamole, sour cream and sweet chilli sauce. Not as perfect as the Peking duck pizza, but close.
So by the end of this post, you're probably having pizza nightmares rather than pizza pangs. But if the latter do arise, now you know where to get your fix.