“I am not afraid to admit I am a huge fan of the ham and pineapple pizza. And I can assure you there isn’t a guy from wikipedia lurking in this pizzeria.”
Often called the “Hawaiian pizza“, there’s still healthy debate as to whether the ‘ham and pineapple pizza’ actually originated from Hawaii. But one thing may be certain though. According to wikipedia, it is the most popular pizza in Australia, accounting for 15% of all pizza sales.
How this statistic is derived leads me to imagine there is a guy from wikipedia lurking in every pizzeria in Australia. He would diligently tick off his list to keep track of whether you have ordered a Hawaiian pizza.
So when the menu at Rosso Pomodoro snobbishly declares NO HAM & PINEAPPLE, I came to the conclusion there won’t be a wikipedia guy checking on our pizza order tonight.
This place is casual and apparently hugely popular with the locals. Located on the southern end of Balmain in Sydney’s inner west, the restarant is house on the ground floor of a block of apartments.
It has long been reputed to be among one of the best pizzerias in Sydney and the a quick read of the menu gives me a few clues.
If you have not already got yourself a dozen of the 2012 Jacob’s Creek Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon for Christmas, you better hurry. To me, it’s quaffing wine at its best with a price tag of $10.50 per bottle (after a 30% discount if you buy 6 or more bottles from Liquorland).
It’s a wine drinkable now or in ten years time. The label says “characteristics of mint and blackberry aromas with generous ripe cassis flavours and a hint of black olive”. As it turns out, all I can taste is the black olives in my pizza.
Nevertheless, there is something special about drinking everyday wine with pizza. It’s casual and it’s fun, and pizza has truly become so iconic it requires little justification for an expensive bottle of grape juice. Unless of course, some smart ass celebrity chef comes up with a $1,000 pizza and even then, I would probably feel at home with a knock-about bottle of honest wine with pizza.
There are twelve rosso (red sauce), four bianche (‘white’ or no tomato sauce) pizza choices and only three pastas (one of which is for kids) on the menu.
“If there is only a penne and lasagne on the menu, I think we should avoid ordering pasta at all cost” I tell Mysaucepan.
“Agreed” she replies immediately. “After all this is a pizzeria, not an Italian restaurant” she adds.
So we decide to order one each of the rosso and bianche to share.
The waiter asks if we are sharing the pizzas and if so, he would bring them out one after the other so each arrives piping hot. That makes good sense and we opt to have the bianche pizza first.
Mysaucepan‘s choice of a porcini and prosciutto has tissue-thin slices of Italian ham laid over a base with bubbling hot mozzarella, a sprinkling of capers and porcini mushroom slices.
“I’ve been having a huge pizza craving lately and I did not have breakfast or lunch today to gear up for this” I tell Mysaucepan.
“Well, dig right in, I think the toppings are pretty good quality stuff” she says.
Perhaps I am extremely hungry tonight but quality pizza toppings certainly make a difference. There is a huge leg of ham hanging at one corner of the kitchen where the prosciutto is freshly shaved.
I add cracked black pepper and request for chilli oil and the waiter comes back with a huge bottle.
“Good man!” I thank him.
“Uhh, I looovamachilli too” he tells me in his hot-blooded Italian accent.
A healthy drizzle of this deep green chilli oil and the earthy flavours of porcini mushroom and salty ham comes to life.
You know that a pizzeria is serious when they specify on the menu:
- No ham & pineapple
- No half & half
- Only Italian mozzarella
- Only Italian toppings
- Italian certified pizza maker
- Pizza cooked straight on the stone
- No corkage
“I don’t like the first point but I like the last one!” I tell Mysaucepan with a grin on my face.
She prefers her bianche pizza but my order of a capricciosa is definitely not short on taste and flavour.
Whole black olives, mozzarella, artichokes and ham combine to bring flavours from the Mediterranean. I love heat in my pizza and the spicy kick from the chilli oil lights up this slice of heaven.
Judging from our meal tonight, it’s safe to conclude the pizzas at Rosso Pomodoro are on the money.
The next time here, I will be with a few more hungry boys. Ciao for now!
So tell me dear readers, do you think there is a wikipedia guy in every pizzeria in Australia and what is your favourite pizza?
Shop 90 – 91, 24 Buchanan street
Balmain, New South Wales
Tel: +61 2 9555 9524
Opening hours: Dinner Tuesdays to Sundays 6pm – 10pm.