Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Big call in little Woolloomooloo

"Home of the world's best pizza" - it's a big call and I just had to see it. We find ourselves in the less buzzy and popular, and thus less visited, end of Crown Street in Woolloomooloo, for the launch of Lanzafame Trattoria which I think has been open a while, but just getting to around to things now.

Menu of Lanzafame Trattoria, Crown Street, Woolloomoolo
The prospect of "the world's best pizza" was way too hard to pass up, so there was a degree of surprise being greeted by the sight below.

Fondue set up for the Lanzafame Trattoria launch
It was bright, loud and spoke nothing of pizza - but the disco vibe was perhaps necessary to lift the dark space from, let's admit, a really tough venue and location to work with. John Lanzafame is the man for the job with accolades for Best Pizza at something called World American Plate in 2005. With time at Hugo's and consulting to GPO Pizza (one of my all time favourites), good things are promised from this Woolloomoolo kitchen.

Lauretana sparkling water and Martini prosecco
With the evening sponsored by Martini and Peroni, there were plenty of options to keep us hydrated. There were cocktail options, but I opted for the Martini prosecco, which isn't one of the best I've had but drinkable.

Peroni beers
I was hanging out for the pizza with much excitement that I may well have been loitering behind the DJ and as close to the kitchen as possible, where lots of little morsels were being prepared to start off.

Tomato bruschetta
The tomato bruschetta was a great start; ripely red diced tomato with slivers of basil atop a crisp and crunchy square of bread. These were so moreish I could have gone the entire plate.

Garlic prawn skewers
This interestingly presented offering was in fact a couple of garlic prawns on a toothpick. Initially I was more interested in the round block below, thinking it was cotechino or some kind of sausage (it was dark), only to sadly discover it was a bread roll for spiking purposes only. The prawns were nicely firm and fresh with just a hint of garlic.

Buffalo mozzarella in carozza
These intriguing fried triangles turn out to be filled with melty cheesy goodness of a light buffalo mozzarella, encased in a carriage (carozza) of delicately seasoned, battered deep fried bread. Definitely a first for me.

John Lanzafame and chef
I see the hard work in action in the kitchen as food starts flying out the kitchen; notably, the pizzas we've all been waiting for, all with golden melted mozzarella cheese on the base.

Margherita pizza
We start simple with the margherita pizza, with slices of cherry tomato and basil distributed across piles of cheese. The base is perfectly crisp but not quite as thin as GPO Pizza does - this has a bit more bite to it.

Mortadella and green olive pizza
The mortadella pizza was definitely a new topping experience for me - a processed meat that's not salami seems uncommon. However, I think the briney green olives were the bigger stars of this show.

Mushroom and chilli pizza
This was my favourite pizza of the night, though my slice didn't have chilli - which I presume would be those large, not hot red ones more like capsicum. The generous topping of field mushrooms gives the pizza a great earthy flavour hit along with lashings of stringy cheese on the base.

Garlic prawn pizza
I have yet to be convinced that seafood pizzas have any merit. Whether it's the combination with cheese or the base sauce that I find odd to taste, I'm just not a big fan. I can't complain about the great firm prawns or cheese or pesto or base - but just not together.

The pizzas keep coming all night long, but there was also a great variety of other food to keep the drinking crowd happy.

Risotto Milanese
The serving presentation for the risotto is very clever; no bowls and perfect with one hand. The saffron infused rice was likely without bone marrow as is traditional, but topped with cheese and cooked to a lovely creamy consistency with the rice just a little under.

Grilled lamb cutlets with salmoriglio
The platter of lamb cutlets wouldn't look out of place at an Aussie barbeque, but these are tastiliy dressed with a lemony herb oil. While the cutlet is nicely cooked, I can't bring myself to eat the plentiful fat, which perhaps wasn't trimmed to keep the meat moist and juicy.

The arancini inspire some dashing towards the waiter as they don't make it much past the kitchen exit. Ingeniously 'glued' down in place on the board with a mayonnaise-like sauce, these risotto balls weren't rolling anywhere other than my stomach. They're vegetarian in filling with more stringy mozzarella cheesy inside, but tending a little on the dry side.

Opera singer
At some point about half way through the night, we were treated to a couple of opera singers belting out some classic Italian songs of which I have no clue of the names of, but with really familiar tunes. This lady was followed by a young man, and then a duet to close the riveting performance.

Marshmallow getting the chocolate fondue treatment
Disco followed the opera, or at least the disco fondue to which I'd taken to calling it (Disco Stu would have loved it). There was rockmelon, honeydew melon, pineapple, strawberries and irresistable marshmallows, with the drippy chocolate proving a messy but fun experience to end the night.

John Lanzafame
So the question of the big call hasn't really been answered. I mean, 'best pizza' is such a subjective notion that I don't think anyone can really rule on it. With John Lanzafame's wall of awards next to the kitchen quite impressive in itself, I think everyone should decide for yourselves as to whether this is the world's best pizza.

Some of John Lanzafame's pizza awards and accolades
Thanks to Little Black Book Agency and John Lanzafame for the invitation to the launch party - and best of luck guys!

Lanzafame Trattoria on Urbanspoon


Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

The bread base for the prawn skewers is an interesting idea! Looks like a fab night with lots of deliciousness!

Forager @ The Gourmet Forager said...

The garlic prawn presentation caught my eye too - maybe is they made the base more appetising that would be better - like stick it into a loaf of garlic bread!

Tina said...

Hi Helen and Forager - I thought a sausage would have been much more exciting... but practicalities...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...