Fab pizza, great prices, unexpected location

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Pizza d’Asporto, Rifle Range Shopping Centre, 71 Kororoit Creek Road. Phone: 9397 2033

Consider The Sauce likes – and sometimes even loves – those authentic Italian-style pizzas as much as anyone.

But the prices have always been a sticking point for us.

We know some of our reasoning in this regard doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

For instance, the places that sell such pizzas tend to be located in areas where rents are high.

As well, quality ingredients and preparation come at a price.

And we know, too, that comparing such pizzas with much cheaper but much, much less pleasing Aussie-style pizzas is unfair.

No matter how many low-quality toppings get piled onto a pizza base, the resultant product will always be … low-quality, no matter the price.

And any comparison to our beloved Lebanese pizzas and pies and their ultra-low prices is perhaps even more unfair.

The places that sell them tend to be in low-rent locations, and while the quality is often high I’m happy to accept that to a large degree it’s a matter of apples and oranges.

 

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But still, $20 or $25 or more for a pizza just doesn’t seem good value for money.

I guess what I’ve been looking for is a joint that sells authentic Italian-style pizzas in a more customer-friendly price range.

Well, I’ve found just such a one.

What’s more, it’s in the western suburbs, the place is amazing and the food the CTS party of three enjoys leaves us gobsmacked and grinning from ear to ear.

 

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It’s telling that Pizza d’Asporto is situated in a rather anonymous shopping centre quite some distance from the nearest foodie precinct.

It’s surrounded by a handful of fast-food outlets and is doing a roaring trade at about 8pm on the midweek night we visit.

There’s Italian music playing, there’s a happy vibe in abundance and the staff are smiling and on the ball.

There are no internal tables – just a bunch of stools and benches.

We grab one of the small tables outside.

The menu is split between red and white pizzas.

The least expensive is $13, the most expensive $19.

There are a handful of pastas available, all costing about $15, and a like number of salads.

 

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This broccolini pizza – with its buffalo mozzarella, pecorino, broccolini and white truffle oil – costs $14.

Can you believe it?

It’s insanely good, the flavours melding wonderfully and the green vegetable being superbly al dente but still cooked through.

 

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The San Giorgio – with its San Marzano tomato, sopressa salami, artichoke hearts, roast peppers and olives – is a couple of bucks dearer at $16 and just about as good.

My friends are more familiar with this kind of pizzas than I.

They rate their Pizza d’Asporto pies as significantly better than those they’ve had in West Footscray and Seddon, and “as good as if not better” than those they’ve loved at Motorino in Kingsville.

And keep in mind – those prices!

 

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A few days before our visit, I’d taken note of a post on the eatery’s Facebook page about a really good-looking pansanella bread salad.

Tonight I’m told it’s unavailable; then we’re told they’ll knock one up for us anyway!

Our $13 salad is a treat to share, the plentiful, rustic chunks of bread a beaut mix of dressed sogginess and crunch.

 

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My pasta gamberetti ($17) of linguini with king prawns, zucchini and fresh mint is a good ‘un.

It’s a much more generous serve than the impression given by the above photo indicates.

There’s a heap of very good prawns.

The only quibble I have is maybe wanting a bit more zing from chilli or salt or – perhaps – lemon.

On an earlier solo visit by myself for reconnaissance purposes, I’d enjoyed the ortolana pizza ($16, top photo) of San Marzano tomato, mozzarella, grilled eggplant, roasted peppers, mushroom and olives.

Another winner!

There is nothing I do not love about doing Consider The Sauce.

But it’s relatively rare that I enjoy a meal that involves a full house of …

  • Spectacular food.
  • Fantastic prices.
  • Great company.
  • At a place in a surprising location, offering a great atmosphere and super-friendly service.

Claudio, Antoinette and their team are doing a great job and tonight has been one of those occasions.

For a full menu including prices check out the Pizza d’Asporto website here.

 

Pizza D'asporto on Urbanspoon

 

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Sirens leased

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The prime real estate that is the former Sirens at Williamstown Beach has been leased.

The windows are shielded with blue tarpaulins and something is afoot … though, despite my best efforts, I’m not quite sure what.

In a friendly fashion, I squeezed the young bloke I found there doing some renovations for the new proprietors but he remained admirably loyal and discreet.

But from what I did gather …

It seems the property will continue to operate under the Sirens name, it is open for event bookings and an open-to-the-public date is expected to be in late January.

The family/business moving into the space has a track record in the hospitality industry, one that makes them “quite capable” of doing a fine job at Willy Beach.

“Are they famous?” I asked.

“No,” came the reply.

That snuffs out the goss I’d heard just minutes before elsewhere in Williamstown – that Shannon Bennett was moving in.

Nothing to it, apparently.

But, boy, that’s some rumour …

Mezmez – return visit

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Mezmez, 42 Ferguson Street, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 8804

We sometimes have a laugh about how fickle the winds are that blow Consider The Sauce this way and that as it embarks on its adventures.

It’s our Saturday jaunt, we’re hungry and feeling virtuous after about an hour’s worth of house-cleaning in our low-maintenance home.

Heading towards Fehon Street, we are confronted with road signs ruling out a right-hand turn and destinations such as Seddon, Footscray and beyond.

So a left turn it is … and Williamstown, with no specific destination in mind.

We park and check out a cool pizza place that is on our “to do” list, but they’re not rolling yet despite it being 12.30pm.

Maybe next time for them.

So we are happy to return to Mezmez, which we wrote about just a few weeks back – it’s a beaut and significant addition to the Williamstown food scene, and we’re eager to try some more of their dishes and write about them.

 

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Bennie has been given the run of menu, including the more substantial and expensive meals, but goes for the pide with BBQ zatar chicken, peppers, spinach and chipotle mayo ($14).

It goes down a treat.

He especially like the herby nature of the chicken.

 

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My salad of baby beetroots with walnuts, goats cheese, witlof, pasrley and orange dressing ($15) is fabulously brilliant.

It’s a big serve – I take a while longer to eat my lunch than Bennie does to eat his sandwich – and filling for a dish made up so much of water-based ingredients.

The way the various goodies both play off each other and meld together is magical.

The key ingredient is the witlof, the bitterness of which moderates the beet sweetness.

Wow.

 

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Mezmez today has some keen-looking baklava on display but we find we are unable to do anything but order another of their Nutella doughnuts ($3.50).

Both myself and the occupants of the adjoining table are bemused by Bennie’s display of inexpert cutting the sees us end up with two unequal doughnut halves.

Oh well – even the lesser of the two tastes divine to me.

Just like that, Mezmez has become a CTS favourite.

 

Mezmez on Urbanspoon

 

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Knocked out in Williamstown

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Mezmez, 42 Ferguson Street, Williamstown. Phone: 9397 8804

When it was known as Plumm’s, 42 Ferguson Street was a quasi-regular for us – for breakfasts, lunches and even, IIRC, the odd dinner.

I think that between Plumm’s and Mezmez, there was another inhabitant of the address but I can’t recall its name.

Certainly, there has been a long period on non-use for the address before the recent opening of Mezmez.

Maybe that’s not a bad thing, with a view to dispelling “failed restaurant karma”.

Not that we’re suspicious or anything!

In terms of a fresh start, it’s also a fine thing the Mezmez crew has overhauled the room so that it bears little or no resemblance to what went before.

 

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There’s lots of wall tiles, lots of wood and a variety of different seating and eating configurations.

When we visit for Saturday lunch, the place is buzzing, there are happy people in abundance and staff are on the ball.

Mezmez is a sister restaurant of Pint Of Milk in Newport, so as you’d expect has many of the same cafe strengths going on.

But the new place looks and feels very different.

More to the point, outside some orthodox breakfast items, the Mezmez menu (see below) – especially the brunch and lunch lists – evinces a strong Turkish and Mediterranean feel.

And that’s mostly why we’re here and excited about it.

 

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We’re allocated a small wall-mounted table with tall stools towards the back of the room – and we’re happy about that.

Because we’re sitting right at the very spot where food leaves the kitchen and heads for the customers’ pleasure – so we get a good look, while we’re waiting for our meals, at what other folks have been ordering.

That ranges from breakfasts of the basic, toasted kind and the more ornate and decadent through to an “ancient grains” salad, panfried saganaki, crispy fried squid and preposterously fat lamb koftas.

IT ALL LOOKS FANTASTIC!

 

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Bennie chooses the buttermilk pancakes with sour cherries, toasted walnuts and halvah ice-cream ($18).

He’s happy enough, but reckons there’s too much sauce!

I grab a bite and am impressed.

Perhaps, at $18, a third pancake might not be too much to expect.

And perhaps he’s old enough and savvy enough to understand that just because his father lets him off the leash for a sugar hit doesn’t mean that’s going to be the best direction to head.

Because he’s frankly envious of my …

 

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… “mez platter” ($16) with its olives, dukkah, falafels, cauliflower fitters, dips and bread.

It’s all good or much better.

And I always admire any such dish that is constructed with such skill that all the players are in correct proportion so they all “run out” at the same happy conclusion to the meal.

That’s certainly the case here.

The outright stars, though, are the tightly-packed and fragrant falafels and sublime cauliflower fritters.

Wow!

Deep-fried yet ungreasy, they’re packed with flavour – and in the case of cauliflower, that always seems to me some kind of miracle.

That vegetable doesn’t have the most robust flavour characteristics yet often it seems to survive all sorts of cooking techniques.

The only faint quibble I have is wishing the dips had a bit more zing.

 

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As we’d awaited our meals, Bennie went close to toddlerhood regression and the throwing of a tantrum when he saw the blackboard words “Nutella Donuts” had been crossed out.

No problem, my friend – that is yesterday’s news so we’re good to go.

 

 

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Oh boy, this is awesomeness personified – and a bargain at $3.50.

Just so good – ultra gooey and divine.

And filling, even shared between the pair of us.

 

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Nor surprise, eh, that my $3.60 cafe latte is brilliant?

Williamstown locals have a new star to adore.

 

Mezmez on Urbanspoon

 

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Williamstown eats goss

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At Williamstown Beach, the lovely property that until recently and for many years housed Sirens has the forlorn look of a failed business.

What it does not have is the look of dereliction or neglect.

Yet.

You’d think somebody would get in quickly before summer really gathers momentum.

 

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At Nelson Place, what was once Tai Hoong is now Fong’s Kitchen – though a section of the menu is labelled “Old Favourites From Tai Hoong”, so presumably there is a connection between old and new, family or otherwise.

The menu (see below) has a tight selection of Malaysian and Chinese selections, and definitely has some things I’d like to try.

 

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I like the look of the dark wood and minimalist cafe vibe, too.

But today I ordered the Hainanese chicken rice – after ascertaining a bowl of chicken broth was part of the deal – only to be told 30 minutes later that they’d only just commenced to start boiling the chook!

So I departed unfed, but will be back.

 

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A few doors along is the Advertiser Bar & Grill.

According to its Facebook page, it opened in early September – and yet is already undergoing a massive overhaul.

The story, according to a neighbouring trader, is that the joint was hit by a fire, insurance issues have been settled and they’re looking to reopen early next year.

 

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And a few doors along from there is the newly opened Williamstown branch of New York Minute.

Despite having a rather average time of it on our last visit to the Moonee Ponds place, we still have a soft spot for NYM so hope the new outlet is going great!

Reports, anyone?

 

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Food trucks – Altona, Williamstown readers have your say!

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Disclosure – the two reporters who filed this Maribyrnong/Hobsons Bay Weekly story about food trucks in the west are colleagues of mine; I am quoted in the story and the newspaper has used a photograph provided by CTS.

But I confess to being bemused by the comments in the story by the spokeswomen for both the Altona Village Traders Association and the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce.

Of course, it is the job of such groups to promote and protect the businesses they represent.

But the idea of “running food trucks out of the town” seems a little, um, confrontational.

There are places we like to eat in and shop at in both Williamstown and Altona. We will discover more.

But I can only go with what numerous residents and readers from both suburbs have told me in the years CTS has been operating – that while there is plenty of choice, people in general think there is much that is “average”, over-priced or both.

So Altona and Williamstown readers, what do you think … food trucks, do you want them?

 

 

 

 

 

Bits and pieces

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So how’s this for an eye-grabbing sign in Racecourse Road, Flemington?

Nope, can’t say I have … tried camel meat, that is.

Right next door, in the Grand Tofu, I ask Suzanne if she has.

Nope.

In fact, she seems surprised there is even such a sign gracing the halal butcher shop right next door.

What the Grand Tofu, Suzanne, Stephen and their crew do do is serve up a sperb chicken laksa.

Look, I’m quite fond of the two more famous Malaysian eateries just around the corner.

But I don’t like queues and they’re always so busy.

The Grand Tofu is frequently busy, too – but the staff always find time for a bit of a chat or at the very least a warm welcome.

Which can’t always be said of the competition.

And then there’s that chicken laksa (oh my!) – and much more besides.

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Providorable is lovely foodie haven in Williamstown – you can read about it here.

Providorable proprietor Kelly recently posted the following on her business’s Fcebook page:

“Good morning everyone, I’m feeling this morning I need to write this post. I think a lot of the local shop keepers this week would say that things are looking brighter for Xmas sales after a very quiet winter. I urge everyone to support local business. Supermarkets are trying to shut down small business, this is where you get the personal service with product knowledge, not in a supermarket. Also, WHY have the council allowed two farmers markets per month in Willy? Do you realise that now there are two it takes business away from your local shops that are the ones that pay the rates & rents to make strip shopping be still available? Have you questioned any of the stall holders at farmers markets about where some of their products come from? There are genuine items being sold but some are not from their own farms being sold direct to public. Yeah, have one a month but why 2 every two weeks … you go and buy fruit and veg, it affects your local fruit shop, same as butcher, dog treats, coffee shop, jams and relishes etc etc. PLEASE SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESS. By this market being there every two weeks, you are supporting outsiders who don’t pay the huge rents and rates we pay. OK rant over lol and enjoy your day. Williamstown has wonderful shops and fantastic shopkeepers. Keep us all in willy for years to come please.”

What do you think?

We’re quite fond of visiting farmers markets.

But in truth we rarely buy more than a coffee and maybe a snag or other eat-on-the-spot treat.

Fruit, vegetables and other produce?

Hardly ever.

But we do enthusiastically support and enjoy the hell out of our local shops and delis, be they in Williamstown, Altona, Seddon, Footscray, Sunshine or beyond.