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Charles & Gamon, 2 Gamon St, Seddon. Phone: 9995 8868

The box-shaped building on the corner of Gamon and Charles has a colourful history – one that has been discussed on various comment threads here at Consider The Sauce.

It goes something like this: Servo, Balkan restaurant, cafe (The Bowser?), Sobraso, Charles & Gamon and – bringing us right up to date – Charles & Gamon once more. There may be missing stages in that list!

 

 

Visiting to check out the newest iteration, I am thrilled to bits to have it pointed out to me that evidence of the Balkan grill part of the building’s history remains on the brickwork in the form of “Bery’s charcoal grill” signage.

How cool is that?

We’ve driven/walked past a gazillion times in the past couple of decades and never noticed!

Anyone who has passed in the couple of months will likely have noticed that the outdoor garden area remains VERY popular.

Inside, new management has wrought many changes.

While retaining the C&G name, the new look is much brighter and lighter.

We like the way the seating arrangements are so diverse – a big communal tables, several smaller, some armchairs, a few tall tables with stalls.

They say: “Step in and linger a while.”

Disclosure: One partner of the new team running C&G is my accountant – and a top bloke he is, too.

But he knows me quite well  enough to know that I will cut him no slack when trying out the food – even if we aren’t paying.

We are expecting glorified bar food and a pizza list.

What we get is better than that – and sometimes wonderfully so (see menu below).

 

 

We never boil/steam asparagus at home – it always gets the high-heat, flash-fry treatment; and we love it that way.

So we have no hesitation in ordering the charred seasonal greens of asparagus and broccolini with pecorino and lemon zest ($11).

It’s excellent, though I’m told asparagus prices will dictate a replacement ingredient very soon.

 

 

We are a little wary of ordering hummus is such an establishment on account of the fact we eat so much Lebanese and related food elsewhere.

But the C&G version is recommended to us by our server so we take the plunge – and end up delighted.

The C&G hummus ($15) has a seasoning tang that is utterly alluring.

Cumin?

Nope, it’s all about dukkah we are informed.

Topped with walnut crumbs and half a dozen roasted tomatoes, this is a winner.

 

 

From a list of seven pizzas, the margherita ($22) is also recommended to us.

It’s beautiful in its simplicity – fior di latte, basil, cherry tomatoes, love.

We reckon this as good a pizza as you’ll find in the inner west.

 

 

Bennie is more enamoured of the buttermilk chicken sandwich ($20) than I.

And he is, after all, the CTS expert.

He digs the crunchy and juicy chicken, the mustardy dressing and even the iceberg lettuce.

The chips are good enough, though could be bit hotter.

We like that they are festooned with rock salt and chopped parsley.

We’ll be back at the new C&G – particularly to explore in more dept the pizza list.

(Consider The Sauce dined at Charles & Gamon as guests of the management and we did not pay for our meals. We were free to order whatever we wished. Charles & Gamon management neither sought nor was granted any input, oversight or pre-publication access to his story.)

 

 

Making Aussie pizzas better

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Cheezy Pizza, 75 Gamon Street, Yarraville. Phone: 9078 9392

Consider The Sauce likes pizza.

But not that much, other eating-out options in the wonderful west usually pushing our buttons much more often.

And when we do opt for pizza, there’s two kind that take our fancy.

One of them being Lebanese pies – they’re cheap and wonderful, though in Australia they’re not what readily springs to mind when the word “pizza” is bandied about.

Our other pizza affection is the real-deal Italian style now able to be found freely.

In our experience, they’re pricier, but are worth because of the care put into them, with an accent on high-quality ingredients – but not too many of them.

Your Aussie pizzas?

Not so much.

Sure, they have their place – and we’ve eaten plenty.

But we just don’t reverberate with joy at the thought of messy, greasy piles of poor-quality makings.

Processed ham especially rankles.

But one thing we do love is absolutely love is reader feedback, suggestions and tips.

One such tip leads us to try Cheezy Pizza on Gamon Street in Yarraville.

 

 

Here Steve Evagora and his partner have set up shop in what has been a pizza joint like forever.

It’s a bare bones pizza place, though quite comfortable.

And it is ALL about pizza.

Aside from garlic bread, two dessert pies and choc mousse, it’s all pizza, pizza, pizza (see menu below).

No sign at of salads, pasta, steaks or schnitzels.

We like that.

And we like Steve’s gameplan.

“When we were setting this place up, we decided we want to take Aussie pizzas – and make them better,” he says. “There’s no processed ham here.”

This strikes us a wonderfully laudable aim.

And, after sampling the Cheezy Pizza wares on two dinner-time occasions, we reckon they’re nailing it good.

 

 

Of the four Cheezy Pizza pies we try, the champion is our large American ($15.90).

It’s a simple affair – mozzarella, tomato and salami.

But it’s the tomato sauce that is the winning key – this is plentiful and has depth of flavour and texture foreign to most Aussie pizza places.

“I’m in awe of how good this is,” Bennie enthusiastically opines.

He’s not kidding.

 

 

On the same visit, we also try a small capriciossa ($9.90).

Sporting tomato sauce, mozzarella, leg ham, mushrooms and olives, this is good – though doesn’t have quite the same tasty flavour hit as our American pie.

 

 

The following week, we phone in an order and pick it up ourselves.

The eternal popularity of home delivery for pizzas puzzles us, as they seem to suffer in the process just as much as hamburgers.

Our large New Yorker (tomato sauce, mozzarella, prosciutto, cherry tomatoes, feta and rocket, $19.90) is excellent.

 

 

With it we get a small pesto chicken (pesto, mozzarella, chicken breast, pine nuts, olive oil, fresh basil, $12.90).

This lies outside our usual purist pizza inclinations.

But it’s also a winner – and we love that the pine nuts are generously festooned across our pizza.

Little things like that make a big difference.

Well there you go.

Looks like we’ve found an Aussie-style pizza place that will become a regular haunt for us.

 

Fine pizza @ Edgewater

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Terminal 45 Woodfire Pizzeria, 41-45 Edgewater Boulevard, Maribyrnong. Phone: 9317 0123

The western suburbs are quite well endowed with classy pizza places.

One that appears to have flown under the pizza pie radar is Terminal 45 Woodfire Pizzeria, which is located down the hill from the Edgewater shops and pretty much right next door to St Burgs.

Last time Bennie and I spied this joint, it was a sunny summer Sunday early evening and it was packed and firing.

This time – urged on by a successful home pizza delivery and a friend’s hearty recommendation – we are back early in the week on a cold night and the scene is quite different.

We are the only customers, though deliveries continue apace.

Terminal 45 lists almost a couple of dozen pizzas, with what seems less on the menu by way of pasta and starters than most such places.

No matter – we are here for pizza.

And they’re excellent.

Caprese ($16) is like a salad on a pizza base, and thus an instant hit with my salad-loving son.

It’s simple, tasty and rather magnificent – just uncooked mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, basil, olive oil.

Piccante $16) has hot salami, roasted red capsicum, mozzarella and fresh chilli.

It, too, hits our pizza spots right nicely.

And not only do our pizzas please us, we note happily that the prices are a good dollar or two less than we regularly pay elsewhere.

Wonderful impromptu Italian

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Pier 71 Bar e Cucina, 71 Pier Street, Altona. Phone: 9398 8598

Bennie and I have an engagement in Altona – the launch party for a new place.

In truth, we’re not sure how – or if – this will work for us.

It’s a week night with school and work the next day, and it remains to be seen whether CTS will get enough of a look-see at the food to generate a story.

We get through the security cordon, stride up the stairs and find that, nope, this isn’t for us – it’s all about people standing around drinking, Bennie’s in his school uniform and we just don’t feel comfortable.

This place will have to wait for another day.

So around the corner we go, still chasing a dinner feed, to throw our lot in with Pier 71 Bar e Cucina.

This turns out to be an ace move on our part, as this very cool Italian has until now escaped our notice, even though it’s been around for a couple of years.

It’s all about casual Italian – something along the lines of Ovest in West Footscray or Mascalzone in Williamstown: Big on pizzas, pasta and salads, not so gung-ho about steaks and pricey seafood.

 

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The place is roughly split into three areas – a communal table at front, what amounts to a long hallway of both booth and table seating adjacent the kitchen/serving areas, and a flexible alfresco area out back.

We eat very well and find the service and timing fine for a busy mid-week night.

 

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Pizza Napoletana ($17.90) is as good as we could hope for – simple, very fine and expertly done.

There’s stacks of anchovies – good for me, not so good for Bennie!

 

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The chips that accompany our “hamburger (Italian style)” ($18.90) are superb – hot, crisp, plentiful.

The fried discs of chorizo atop seem something of an affectation to us, though, and our first conclusion is that we’d be happier if that effort had been put into putting more heft into our burger, which seems rather smallish for the price.

Bennie makes rude comparisons with the burgers we get elsewhere, but after eating I conclude he’s being unfair – because, as is so often the case, this eats bigger than it looks.

 

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And it is indeed in the “Italian style” – the meat is much more finely minced than is the case with burgers generally, be they old-school Aussie or the American style.

It’s a delight with its capsicum, onion, mozzarella and sauce.

We go for it in terms of indulgence by sharing the tiramisu ($10.90, top photograph).

It’s a dreamy, rich fantasy – much stiffer in terms of consistency than we’re used to, the booze-tinged cream a thing of grinning decadence.

Check out the Pier 71 Bar e Cucina website, including menu, here.

 

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Laneway slices

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Slice Girls West, 4 Yewers Street, Footscray. Phone: 9689 6260

Footscray being colonised by a sister restaurant of a successful outfit in Melbourne’s CBD?

Using an unfunny, punny name?

I am in a playfully suspicious frame of mind as Bennie and I march up Yewer Street.

Mind you, I have enjoyed driving here, then parking, as Bennie kept on trying to guess where we’re going.

Yewer Street?

The effect is that it’s more of a laneway – appropriately, Slice Girls West, too, has a laneway vibe.

 

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The eatery space is quite confined but is bright and bohemian.

Contrived?

Maybe a little – but it IS pretty cool.

(The much larger upstairs area is being developed as a bar.)

The service is dispensed with a smile and the wait times are fine.

Spice Girls West offers a handful of square pizzas, four sangers and handful of such things as a hot dog, nachos and salads (see menu below).

The prices are real low.

 

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The Who Do You Think You Are pizza ($12) is lovely with prosciutto, provlone, artichokes and basil.

One review I read before departing opined that the pizzas here are more your American style, with a more spongy crust than usually provided with your Italian-style thin-crust pies.

This is true.

 

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The Cubano sandwich ($14) impresses the hell out of us.

It looks a tad modest for the price but eats quite big.

There’s oozy cheese, ham, pickles, mustard – and pork.

Here’s the thing – this “Citrus Roast Pork” really does have a citrus tang to it.

We’ll back for more this one.

 

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Ovest revisited

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Ovest, 572 Barkly Street, Footscray. Phone: 9687 7766

It’s been a while since Consider The Sauce’s inaugural visit to Ovest so I’m very happy to be taking Bennie for his first visit for Sunday lunch.

The place has quickly established itself as a popular fixture for West Footscray and beyond.

But as it has done so, Ovest has been evolving and growing.

 

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For starters, and no doubt to the grateful hurrahs of many, the boss has “caved in” – according the place’s Facebook page – and now has a “shiny new Wega machine”.

Espresso coffee at Ovest – oh yes!

As well, while Ovest has been open on Sundays for a while, starting this coming week it will be open as well for lunch from Tuesdays through Saturdays, with those days offering a streamlined menu of nine-inch pizzas and a few other goodies (see menu below).

For our Sunday lunch, Bennie and I have no problem with choosing from the regular menu, going pizzas all the way.

 

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The spicy pork on a tomato base with fennel sausage, ham, baby tomatoes, fior di latte, wonderfully crisp pancetta and chillies ($22.50) and …

 

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… the napolitana with olives, fat anchovies, baby tomatoes, mozzarella and basil ($19.50) are brilliant.

Really, these two are – in our experience – as good as pizzas can be.

My cafe latte is pretty good, too!

 

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Moto a-go-go

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Motorino, 29A Vernon Street, South Kingsville. Phone: 9399 2121

Motorino has been around for years but we’ve never until now been through its doors.

Not sure why.

Certainly, it’s been in the mix many, many times as we’ve pondered our options – but we’ve chosen to go elsewhere.

A recent, indolent incident of home delivery pizzas quickened our interest – our couple of simple, vegetarian pizzas were simply the best to-our-door food we’ve ever invested in.

On time, hot, delicious.

So here we are, trying our luck without a booking on a Friday night.

No problem – we snag a table for two and take in our surroundings.

Having peered through the windows so often, it seems I’ve bred the impression that Motorino is somehow a sleek, trendy sort of place.

 

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So I am bemused to discover that from an insider’s point of view that it’s not like that at all – it’s just like any popular Italian eatery in Melbourne.

It could be in Carlton or Brunswick.

Gee, that sounds like I’m damning with faint praise – and that’s not my intention.

Mororino IS kinda cool and classy and the cooking aromas are intoxicating.

But it’s all a hubbub on this Friday night, with family groups galore and kids everywhere.

The staff are obliging, smiling and efficient.

We settle in for a slightly longer duration than planned but enjoy the hell out of our Motorino stay.

And why wouldn’t we when we have a pizza, a pasta, a dessert pizza and two hot drinks and pay a most admirable $56?

 

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Pizza funghi ($17.50) with caramelised onions, ricotta, olive oil and mozzarella is good though we find it a little austere and plain.

We unambiguously cast envying eyes at the specials-board marinated lamb number being consumed at a neighbouring table.

 

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Fusilli Tuscan of Tuscan sausage, caramelised onions, garlic, tomato sugo and parmesan ($19.50) we think is utterly brilliant.

I make a version of this at home but no way have I ever attained the sort of succulent, tasty, sticky and rich heights this plate does.

Wonderful!

 

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Having such a swell time are we that ordering a dessert pizza is a no-brainer.

Bennie’s outside talking on his phone – so I make the call: Raspberry and lemon curd pizza with double cream ($12).

As you’d expect, it’s on the tartish side – but that’s fine by us.

It lasts, maybe, about three minutes and is sluiced down by a just-right cafe latte ($3.50) and hot chocolate ($$3.50).

During the course of the evening, we’ve seen very many delivery drivers come and go.

I’m told that a typical Friday night will see about 80 deliveries made involving about eight or nine drivers.

Man, that’s some serious pizza moving business.

As we recently discovered for ourselves, there’s very delicious reasons for that.

But based on tonight’s meal, we reckon we should make the effort for an in-house visit much more often.