5 May 2008


224 Gertrude St, Fitzroy
Ph: (03) 9415 7575
Open: Wednesday-Sunday, 6-11pm

WHEN it opened, it was called an overnight sensation. When the hype grew and customers queued at the door to get a table, it was dubbed Melbourne’s best pizza joint. And when celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain popped into Melbourne, he also popped in for some pizza.

Since Ladro flipped its first dough in 2004 it been given its fair share of tags but the bottom line is the tiny restaurant in the heart of Fitzroy’s funky Gertrude St makes a damn fine pizza. And given the size of the crowd on a recent Sunday night, it seems I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Rita Macali’s Italian restaurant is a tiny, noisy and vibrant. Within minutes of sitting down at the communal table our friendly waitress gave us our water glasses and within seconds of reading the menu I knew what I wanted. For me, the Puttanesca pizza with tomato, mozzarella, parmigiano, cherry tomatoes, anchovy, black olives, fresh chilli, capers and basil ($17.50, below) was da bomb. The saltiness of the anchovy and the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes was a taste sensation and any pizza that uses real, unpitted olives is a winner with me. Buddy #1 opted for the Lazio with mozzarella, parsley, carciuga - an artichoke paste - and lemon ($21) and buddy #2 went with the Pizza 4 Otto with buffalina, speck, capers, anchovy and fresh rocket ($21). We shared between us and while I loved my Puttanesca the best, all three were fantastic.

Of course, there’s more than just pizza on the menu but, really, if you go to Ladro, you’re there for the crispy, thin, wood-fired dough. I would advise however to leave room for dessert. The three of us shared the chocolate panna cotta , the Crespelle - crepes with quince and the bomboloni - cinnamon donut balls with a blood orange sauce ($10.50 each). Each was almost as tasty as the pizza that preceded it and was topped off nicely with a hot chocolate made with ganache ($4.50).

Bizarrely, most of the reviews I’ve read on Ladro mention the marble tabletops. Personally, as long as they’re clean, I couldn’t give a rats about the quality of the tabletops. What I care more about is the quality of the pizza and that is something Ladro certainly delivers.



1 comment:

kate and zoe said...

In breaking news, we've just heard Rita Macali has sold her share in Ladro to partners Sean Kierce and Ingrid Langtry. Macali hasn't actually been in the Ladro kitchen for a few years since having a baby and dealing with a benign brain tumor.