A foodie’s dream come true? When you’re asked to trial a new menu. It’s been a week and I am still savouring the wonderful flavours put before me at Alfredo’s Pizzeria for their test kitchen series.
If you haven’t been to Alfredo’s yet then stop reading, get in the car and go. This place – owned by the same entrepreneur behind Alfred and Constance, Damian Griffiths, – is serious about their Italian inspired menu. So far as that Griffiths actually sought out a real European “Alfredo” in Melbourne to create the “story” (Alfredo is the star on the feature wall and the character in all the bathroom photos. The latter of which provides endless hand washing amusement…). And with head chef Norman Harvey and food consultant Jocelyn Wilcock overseeing the kitchen you know before you’ve so much as murmured your order it’s going to be good.
As you walk into the space, passing a sleek white Vespa in the doorway, you immediately fall in love with the interior. With rolling pin taps for the several beers available, neon signs reminiscent of a bustling Roman side street filled with eateries, the stunning wood fired pizza oven that takes up an entire corner of the space, a mixture of long tables and round cotton wheel bar style settings with padded stools and numerous pieces of unique artwork, there is more than enough to keep the eyes intrigued.
I arrived with a group of 4 at lunchtime on a Tuesday. As soon as we entered we were warmly greeted and directed to our table near the open window at the front of Alfred Street. Handed the menus the idea was to order what we liked with recommendations for Norm’s Knockout Gnocchi and the Ziggy Stardust Pizza.
For mains we settled on the pumpkin, Fontina and basil pesto Arancini, the fresh mission Fig, prosciutto, witlof and Grana Padano Salad with balsamic dressing and Norm’s Knockout Gnocchi with wood mushrooms, truffle crème and Parmesan. For pizzas it was a hard choice but in the end decided on the Red Hot with spicy Nduja, tomato, chilli and Mozzarella, a Sweet Home Alabama topped with popcorn chicken, Alfredo’s own BBQ sauce, crispy Pancetta and garlic mayo, a Ziggy Stardust (pumpkin, balsamic onion, crispy sage, crumbled Goats Fetta and basil pesto) and a 30 Seconds to Mars with Sopressa Salami, caramelised onion, white anchovy, olives and zucchini and Thyme.
By the time they arrived our mouths were well and truly watering. The first up for tasting were the Red Hot and Sweet Home Alabama and I can honestly say they were the highlights of the whole meal. The bases of the pizzas were thin and perfectly crispy with just the right ratio of dough to topping. The heat from the combination of tangy, spicy Ndjua (it’s a spicy spreadable pork sausage usually made from the shoulder, belly and jowl…thanks Google!) and chilli on The Red Hot were unbelievably good. The smattering of sausage (which looked more like small meatballs) was juicy and succulent and literally melted in the mouth. It’s definitely the number one pick for those who like a bit of a kick (yours truly included).
The Sweet Home Alabama was the perfect follow up offering a sweeter taste sensation for the palate. The smoky BBQ sauce with the tasty crispy outer shell on the chicken was lip-smacking deliciousness and the creamy mayo provided a nice cut through to the sweetness.
Up next were the Ziggy Stardust and 30 Seconds to Mars. Again, there was a sweeter element to the Ziggy Stardust pizza with the roast pumpkin and sticky balsamic red onion but was balanced well by the saltiness from the Fetta and crispy sprinkling of sage. And finally, the 30 Seconds to Mars (FYI ordering this one caused some debate due to the presence of anchovy) was a wonderful twist on a traditional Pepperoni pizza with thin ribbons of zucchini and Kalamata olives. The mild white anchovies provided a subtle saltiness and added dimension to the dish (most at the table were won over!).
After the pizzas were trialled, tested and tasted it was the Gnocchi that was next on the list – small fist-sized, plump potato dumplings filled the bowl and were smothered in a rich, creamy mushroom sauce with small roasted and almost caramelised mushrooms littered throughout. The intense richness of the cream based sauced was possibly slightly too much for lunch but the mushrooms were divine and the texture of the Gnocchi perfectly dense with a slightly chewiness that I love.
The Fig and prosciutto Salad was equally as delectable offering sweet and salty and a bite of bitter from the witlof. It was a nice palate cleanser before we moved on to dessert…(sadlyI simply didn’t have space for the Arancini but murmurings around the table were positive although erring on the bland side).
After all that we’re still not sure how we managed to find room for dessert. But boy are we glad we did. We figured you can’t come to a pizzeria and not order the dessert pizza right? RIGHT.
As I shoveled a small slice of Banana Nutella Dessert Pizza into my mouth – making well sure I had a bit of all the elements on my fork – some of the sweeter, thicker pizza base laden with oozing caramelised banana and lashings of Nutella, a touch of vanilla cream and crunchy roast hazelnuts – it was decadence at it’s pizza-best. I’m still licking my lips thinking of how well the timeless combination of banana and Nutella was presented. It was a sensory delight of complex textures with crunch, soft fluffy dough and oozing liquid sweetness.
We also tried the Lemon and Almond Tart, which had the lovely fluffy-dense texture of a cake made with almond meal and was complemented by the creamy tang of the Limoncello Gelato on the side. And finally, there was the Coconut and Lime Sorbet with mango and grilled pineapple – light and zingy it was a refreshing tropical island memory-invoking finish to an epic luncheon.
Alfredo’s Pizzeria your new menu is a hands-down winner. For the ultimate pizza experience get yourself down there for lunch or dinner 7 days a week. PLUS they now do takeaway! Enjoy a slice of Alfred Street from the comfort of your couch 7 days a week…this could be dangerous.
What’s your favourite Alfredo’s Pizza?