Saturday, March 28, 2009

Joe's Garage

366 Brunswick Street Fitzroy

After attempting to cut the budget this week (going with a Global Financial Crisis theme) and feast on $5 pizza at Bimbo Deluxe, the spotters found themselves in a spot of bother when Bimbo's had no seating spots to be found. After realising that Brunswick St is not particular famous for pizza (compared with its near neighbour Lygon St), our intrepid bunch were faced with limited options. In the end we trekked south (approx 20 metres) and settled on Joe's Garage. Joe's is designed as a kind of 50's American diner, with its neon sign and 50's-inspired 3D (?) artwork on the walls. Amongst the burgers the menu also manages a pizza list of 13 and a selection of pasta & risotto dishes. It does feel like Joe's has a slight identity crisis - perhaps in an attempt to appeal to the group 'birthday dinner' clientele - trying to cover all bases (pizza, pasta, burgers, dhal, saganaki...) and with their focus leaning more towards quantity than quality.

pizzas sampled:

1. Margherita: tomato, bocconcini & basil

2. Veg out:roast vegetables, cheese, pesto & fetta

3. Pump the jam: tomato, cheese, roasted pumpkin, semi dried tomato, marinated artichoke, fetta & hommous

the verdict:

base 6
not bad - not too thick and well cooked. We debated amongst ourselves whether the bases were bought in or made on site. Should have asked!

topping 6.5

satisfactory but not exciting. MJoe's menu is downloadable from their tired-looking website, which lends us to believe it probably hasn't changed in quite some time. We question the addition of hommous
on pizza. Also, it would help if the menu gave more information than just 'cheese'.

ambience/service 6.5

Bright & noisy but the place was less than half full. Football on the tv in the corner may or may not be your thing. If you are after an authentic italian experience, Joe's is not your place. Service was friendly.

wine list 6
While Joe's has a large u-shaped bar taking up the middle of the restaurant, beer & spirits seem more of a priority than wine. The house red was uninspiring.

price: 6.5 $
prices range from $13.90-$15.90 for approx 10 inch pizzas

Satisfactory. We wouldn't seek out Joe's for the ambience or the pizza experience, but the pizza was better than expected and the prices were reasonable.

D.O.C Pizza e Mozzarella Bar

295 Drummond Street, Carlton

A bit of background first: D.O.C stands for
Denominazione D'origine Controllata, which is a label given to foods and wine that are deemed to apply to the lofty standards set by various Italian agricultural bodies. It is basically an Italian quality assurance, developed by a few Italians worried about the poor reputation of many so called "Italian" food and wine. (Please note that no such body exists for Italian cars...)

By naming a restaurant D.O.C, the restaurateur is clearly trying to tell us that their food is authentic, guaranteed, stamped & signed Italian goodness. And so was it? Well yes it was, right down to the imported Italian waiters in their shiny white 1980's sneakers and cardigan knits with collars.

While D.O.C emphasises their selection of Italian small goods, cheese and wines, they also serve a number of Australian items, including cheese and wine. The menu is divided into four categories: D.O.C Mozzarella Bar &
Antipizza Bar (cheeses & smallgoods); Insalatone (salads); D.O.C Pizza Bar; & dolci, cafe e digestivi. As for the rest - see our comments below:

pizzas sampled:

1. foccaccia potato c/ caramelized red onion e rosemary

2. pizza abruzzese c/ porchetta, montovana fruit mustard, mozzarella & radicchio

3. pizza cicoria c/ chicory, piave cheese & lemon

4. pizza ai porcini c/ wild mushrooms, truffle oil & mozzarella in bianco

5. sweeet pizza c/ belgian white chocolate & fresh strawberries & vanilla bean ice-cream

the verdict:

base 8.5
thin enough to not be bread-like, but still soft with enough crusti-ness that all good pizza bases should have.

topping 8.5
very interesting selection of pizza topping departing wildly from the standard cappriciosa and aussie specials. every pizza is carefully conceived to produce a simple arrangement of ingredients. solid range of vegetarian pizzas that are very tasty.

ambience/service 6.5
very noisy, but the service was good. the couple flirting in the kitchen out the back added to the authentic italian experience.

wine list 7
good traditional italian style wines, produced both inn Australia and Italy. extensive beer list with large number of Italian beers.

price: $$
pizza prices range from $14.90-$18.50 with three selections of pizza above $20. not quite porchetta prices, but you do get what you pay for - excellent pizza!