Very excellent – bank on it

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

Ovest has been open a while by the time Team CTS visits.

Every time I’ve passed by in recent weeks when the place has been open, it’s been jumping.

So our hopes are high – especially those of my friends, who live just a black away and for whom this shapes as a welcome local of the non-Indian variety.

Our hopes are fulfilled, and in terms of the food well exceeded.

 

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Here’s the bottom line – we have one entree, one side, one pizza, two mains, one dessert, two glasses of wine and a soft drink.

The bill comes to just cents above $40 each.

What an absolute ripping bargain!

We’ve booked at 6pm on a Sunday night – which may have been a mistake as it’s family rush hour, the joint is very noisy and the service is a little scrappy, but not enough to cause any alarm.

When I amble back to my car, post-dinner and after having picked up a wonderful loaf of freshly baked bread from my companions’ place, Ovest is a lot more placid.

The dining room looks a treat and it’s a wonderful thing that this old bank is playing host to such vibrant life.

 

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Coleslaw of cabbage, pear, radish, lemon and parmesan ($12) is a real big serve of yum.

At first, I wish for a little more salt and flavour bite, but by the end I come to love the rather perfumey flavours.

 

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Saganaki kefalograviera, sherry vinegar-soaked currants and pickled onions appears modest of portion but is so rich that three of us are happy.

The cheese has a marvellously toasted and salty crust.

 

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A mushroom pizza with taleggio, caramelised onion and fior de latte ($20) is very, very good, its many fungus chunks having a real meatiness about them.

 

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Tuna nicoise ($26) is a stunner and very generous to boot.

Underneath that handsome slab of fish lie spud discs and heaps of superbly creamy mayo.

My roast of the day (top photo, $25.50) is a simple but good-sized snapper stuffed with lemon.

The fish is lovely but it’s the accompanying salad/salsa that makes this dish sing – the clever addition of pickled chilli discs adds not just random exclamations of heat but also a just-right tartness.

The good, hot chips are served in such quantity that there’s more than enough for us all to share – but then, that’s true of everything we’ve enjoyed.

 

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By the time dessert selections are to be made, we’re stuffed.

So to speak.

So two becomes one with three spoons.

Panna cotta of yogurt, vanilla and strawberry jelly ($10) is just the sort creamy dream you’d expect and lasts all of about, oh, five seconds.

The jelly is a delicately-flavoured delight.

My pals are stoked.

So would I be if this “local” had just opened a minute from my front door!

 

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CTS Feast No.11: The Wrap

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Photograph: MARKETA SILHAR

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CTS Feast No.11: Pizza d’Asporto, Rifle Range Shopping Centre, 71 Kororoit Creek Road. Phone: 9397 2033. Sunday, February 15.

Pizza d’Asporto serves simple, wonderfully delicious and fresh Italian food.

It does so in a casual setting with loads of warmth, friendliness and charm.

All those attributes were in abundant evidence when Consider The Sauce and a dozen or so hungry friends descended on Williamstown for the 11th CTS Feast.

 

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There was glorious antipasto, so good I’m sure I wasn’t alone in thinking this was the best you’d find in Melbourne, anywhere at any price.

 

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There were salads such as the insalata di rucola with rocket, pear, parmesan and rustic bread crumbs still just-right crunchy after being imbued with olive oil.

There were two pasta dishes – a fabulous pork-laden ragu and orecchiette with pork sausage and broccolini.

There were family-picked backyard tomatoes.

 

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And there were pizzas – lots of fabulous pizzas.

 

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This was a small gathering by comparison with some of the CTS Feasts of 2014.

All those in attendance had been to one or more previous celebrations – or arrived with someone who had!

 

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The exceptions were my very good pals, fellow blogger Caron and her hubby Gordon – so a big thanks to them for driving all the way from Berwick.

 

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“D’Asporto” means takeaway in Italian, and that indicates just what the original aim of this establishment was – to provide affordable, excellent Italian food for locals.

Then a bench and stools were added for the waiting comfort of customers, then more benches and more stools – and now there are even outdoor tables, at which most Feast attndees got down to their gleeful eating business.

So, you see, in some ways Pizza d’Asporto is not meant to be operating as a bona fide “restaurant” at all – but we’d not change a thing about what Claudio and Antoinetta have going here.

 

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With this story, the more formal, professional aspect of the CTS relationship with Pizza d’Asporto comes to an end – and now we’re very much looking forward to being just another couple of hungry, happy customers dropping in on friends.

Check out the Pizza d’Asporto website here.

Sweet treats courtesy of Pizza d’Asporto’s “sister” business, Impasto Forno Antico in Avondale Heights!

 

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Something groovy for WeFo

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Consider The Sauce may have views on the varying food, service and even the social media hubris of West Footscray’s Indian restaurants, but right from the start we’ve considered them a community asset.

So we were surprised to discover – via a comment on our story about new Indian kid on the block Amrutha – that such a welcoming outlook is by no means universal among West Footscray locals.

Still, as much as we love our Indian tucker, we also dig the heck out of diversity – so we’re delighted to see something very exciting happening in one of the neighbourhood’s landmark buildings.

 

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The double-storey building at 572 Barkly Street has been vacant and unused, so far as we are aware, for several years.

Its history includes time spent as an ANZ bank branch and as home for a Serbian Social Services And Support group.

That latter was still active when we were living just around the corner, many years before CTS.

My very strong visual recall is that “social service and support” meant, in this instance, a very blokey spot for coffee and gossip!

That’s the (potted) history.

The future is … Ovest.

The new eatery, at this point scheduled to be unveiled to the eating and coffee-slurping public in February, is the baby of Ben Sisley, his wife Stephanie and Alex and Kate from Seddon’s Sourdough Kitchen.

Ben has a long history in Melbourne’s hospitality industry, including more recently stints food styling in the corporate world and, before that, time with Mr Wolf in St Kilda and, before that, with Madame Joe Joe, also in St Kilda.

 

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Ben tells me Ovest (it means “west” in Italian) will offer food that will be based around the joint’s pizza oven – think pizzas and the likes of seafood and steak dishes using the same cooking apparatus.

Ben talks enticingly, for instance, of whole snapper lightly crusted/dusted with flour, seasoned, pan-fried and then quickly grilled in the pizza oven.

“We  will be tightly focused in terms of opening hours and menu at the start, and then we’ll see where the public takes,” he says.

“This is a great location and we think the area is ready for something like this.

“We see us catering to everyone from people grabbing an after-work drink right through to young families.”

What that means is … no pasta, no breakfast, dinner and maybe lunch on selected days.

Nor will there be entertainment offered – the open kitchen will play that role.

“The food is the entertainment,” Ben says.

And, thanks to a liberal licence being secured, there is the possibility of 1am finishes on Saturdays and Sundays.

“But we won’t be sitting around chewing up money on wages if there’s no customers around,” Ben quips.

Significant renovations are underway on the ground floor of the old bank building.

But in some ways it appears to be almost purpose-built for the likes of Ovest.

The classic ’60s/’70s style bar is cool as!

The area around the entrance will be for more casual, drop-in customers, with the rear area offering dining of a more formal variety.

Read Hilary McNevin’s story in The Age here.

CTS Feast No.11: Pizza d’Asporto

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THIS EVENT IS NOW BOOKED OUT.

Consider The Sauce Feast No.11:
Pizza d’Asporto,
Rifle Range Shopping Centre, 71 Kororoit Creek Road. Phone: 9397 2033
Date: Sunday, February 15.
Time: Noon-2pm.
Food: Buffet-style offering of pizzas, pasta, salads and starters as chosen by Pizza d’Asporto.
Guests to pay for soft drinks separately.
12 places available

Pizza d’Asporto in Williamstown has become a firm CTS favourite in a very short time.

We love the food and the relaxed, happy vibe – and the people who create both.

So we’re thrilled and delighted that Claudio, Antoinetta and their crew will be co-hosting the first CTS Feast of 2015.

As is likely to be the case with most of this year’s Feasts, there are only a small numbers of places available.

In this case, the ticket monies will be split 50/50 between CTS and Pizza d’Asporto.

Since our initial story on Pizza d’Asporto, here’s what we’ve enjoyed on subsequent visits.

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Penne with quail and porcini ragu ($17).

What a brilliant contrast to the usual grilled or roasted quail!

Stunningly delicious this was.

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Pizza patate with mozzarella, potato, taleggio, caramelised leek and rosemary ($14).

So nice to have cubed spud chunks instead of slices.

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Parmigiana di melanzane with layers of eggplant, mozzarella, potato and Napoli sauce ($12).

Typically done as a bigger dish in a lasagne style, Caludio makes this much wetter – almost like a stew.

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Calzone Nutella with strawberries ($10).

Bennie’s choice, of course.

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, Antoinetta 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.

 

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Happy Camper delivers

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A cold Monday night after a hard day’s work.

Nothing much to look forward to except thawed out soup, an NRL game I don’t really care about and a good night’s sleep.

And another solid day at work when I awake.

Then I see the Happy Camper Pizza Facebook post about how they’re all set up and ready to go at Yarraville Gardens.

It’s way too cold for that sort of carry on, IMO.

But home delivery?

Oh yeah, that sounds real good.

I last spoke with Remi at a Footscray game at the Western Oval, him mentioning then that delivery service was in the works.

So I phone up … and get the man himself taking my order.

From the menu at the  Happy Camper website, I choose the Playing With Fire with tomato, mozzarella, hot salami, olives and red onion.

 

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No more than about 15 minutes later, it’s Remi who cheerfully hand delivers my pizza, with which I get a cute fridge magnet and a one-off $10 off offer if, next time, I order through Delivery Hero.

I pay $14 for my pizza plus a $3 delivery fee – not really economical for solo dining, but pretty good for two or more.

As for my pizza … well I really am a happy camper.

It’s not particularly fiery but it IS a whole heap better than your typical home-delivered pizza.

It’s delicious, with a beaut crust.

I wonder if I am the only home delivery this night that involves a customer clad in Spongebob pyjamas …

 

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New Seddon place impresses

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Mozzarella Bar, 103 Victoria Street, Seddon. Phone: 9687 0097

Having tried and failed to get a table at Seddon’s brash new Italian joint a week or so previously, a friend and I have no problems on a public holiday Monday night.

It’s her second visit.

We have a wonderful time. The style of the place is not necessarily a natural for CTS, but what can I say?

The service – even before the camera came out – and the food we try are pretty darn fabulous.

 

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We share a beetroot, goats cheese and rocket salad ($10).

It’s simple-as but just fine – the plump beetroots are firm yet tender, and vinegary in a way that reminds of me of my mum’s very own.

High praise!

 

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My pal’s gnocchi de casa with “rich tomato sugo, mozzarella di bufala, basil” ($19) is a huge serve.

But she makes lip-smackingly and happy short work of it for good reason – my stolen taste is fabulous, the pillows so light and fluffy it seems they may float away.

I do something unusual for me – well, two actually.

I order the most expensive meal on the menu; and it’s a steak.

 

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T-bone Toscana of green beans, roasted rosemary potatoes, cherry tomatoes and pesto ($32) is simply fabulous.

I’m actually happy that it’s quite a lot less than the inches-thick slab of meat I had been expecting. This makes it a filling but not overly so experience.

It’s perfectly cooked to order – medium rare. And while there’s some gristle and (of course) bones, I’m knocked out by its rustic appeal.

There’s a heap of wonderful green beans under that meat. And there’s plenty of fluffy, gorgeous spud chunks, too.

It’s a no-sides-needed feed that makes the price tag seem something of a bargain.

Best of all, there’s lashings of pesto, salt, pepper and oil – perhaps this is the sort of unapologetic blow-out repast I should consider more often.

Because I dig the hell out of it …

 

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We love the theatre of the open kitchen.

The pizzas whizzing by us as our meal unfolds look awesome.

As do the deep-fried zeppole (Italian doughnuts).

Check out the Mozzarella Bar website – including full menu – here.

 

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