It doesn’t take an Italian to know good pizza. Case study 1: the pizza expert in my life is Simon, who just so happens to be Korean. And with all his experiments in dough fermentation and the best tomato sauce base, you can bet that Simon really knows his Magheritas from his Neapolitanas.
So I guess you could say that eating pizza with Simon at a chain restaurant like Bondi Pizza is…interesting, to say the least.
Sicilian pizza, $13.95
Traditional Italian pepperoni, chorizo, Wagyu meatballs, Spanish onion, pancetta (bacon), kalamata olives, bocconcini & rocket with a drizzle of chilli oil. (NB: Meatballs contain 50% Wagyu beef & pork)
Magherita Pizza, $10.95
Roma tomato, Italian buffalo mozzarella, shaved parmesan & basil.
Garlic and cheese pizza, $10.45
With added balsamic onions
Bondi Wagyu Beef Burger, $16.95
Delicious wagyu & beef pattie served on a toasted bun with cos lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles & our own unique blend of special sauces. Served with fries. Added cheese and pancetta.
Chilli Prawn Linguini, $24.95
Chilli prawns tossed through linguini, wild rocket, chilli, parsley in light olive oil & freshly squeezed lemon juice
Dessert Share Plate, $22.95
A sample plate of our four best selling desserts… Oven-baked Apple Crumble Pizzette, Chocolate Brownie Swirls, Belgian Chocolate Fruit Fondue & Triple Chocolate Brownie served with warm melted Belgian chocolate & vanilla ice cream.
Of the titular (tee hee! That word always makes me laugh) pizzas, we decided to get the Sicilian, $13.95, from their signature range, the Magherita, $10.95, from their classic range, and the Garlic and cheese pizza with added balsamic onion, $10.45, just to round things out.
The Garlic Cheese Pizza wasn’t particularly popular at the table, but there was something about its similarity to a cheesy garlic bread that I quite liked. Sure, it wasn’t amazing in a pizza sense, but the base wasn’t dry, and I quite liked the sweetness that the balsamic onions brought to it. Not quite sure about when you’d order it, though – the garlic isn’t strong enough for when you have an anti-vampire hankering, and the bread isn’t, well, bready enough if you’re in the mood for bread.
Thin base aside, the Sicilian fared much better, with its wide range of toppings. Not sure what that says about the pizza, per se, but it was definitely the best one of the lot. How can you go wrong with the salty hit of olives and cured meats?
The Bondi Burger and the Chilli Prawn Linguini were next – there was much debate at the table about whether the non-pizza dishes at a pizza restaurant would be any good, but hey, if they have it on the menu, I think I should give it a go.
The burger was rather unremarkable, especially given Sydney’s current burger-scape, I mean, with burgers like these:
I’m not sure that a burger like this would be up to par:
It wasn’t horrible, but just not quite good enough in the kick-ass flavour, cheese porn, buttery bread, let’s-eat-till-we-drop-and-come-back-for-more department.
The Chilli Prawn Linguini fared slightly better, with the pasta being suitably al dente, and the prawns neither overcooked or stale.
The only thing for me, was that all I could really taste was a peppery heat from the chilli. No zesty lemon, no floral chilli notes, no fresh herbacious goodness..Just a pleasant amount of salt and heat.
By this time, I wasn’t sure what the dessert was going to be like, but with the variety that a Dessert Share Plate, $22.95, would give you, it should be pretty hard to go far wrong.
The Chocolate Brownie Swirls were very pleasantly surprising: soft bread, rich chocolate…pretty much as advertised, with the added bonus of that warm chocolate fuzzy feeling that I get. You should try it. It’s like being hugged from the inside. The Apple Crumble Pizzette, though, seemed a little…uh, burnt. Not sure that the crumble concept works in a blazing hot-as-hell oven, but the warm scrolls did balance it out for me.
C+. Okay, not great.
The service was actually REALLY GOOD, especially for casual dining restaurant. I know, I know, you might be saying “oh but they knew you were going to review the place!”. Well, there was a mixup, and it turns out that they didn’t realise that we were reviewers till the end when we cleared up what was going on, so double points!
We were really well looked after, and it was fairly easy to get their attention when we needed something. They were very aware of where and when to set things down when it looked like we were in the middle of digging into a plate, or clearing things to make more room, or even simply to greet us with a smile when I looked up and caught their eye. Very pleasant and friendly, and chirpy (like a Snow White’s squirrel friends), to boot.
The only thing that would push the service to the nth degree? Personal recommendations and food knowledge. The best service I’ve gotten are from service staff who are foodies themselves, and love sharing that love and passion. And while they’re very warm and welcoming here, there just wasn’t a sense of kindred foodie-love between us.
Although, I do think that this same accomodating service is type that would make Bondi Pizza a fantastic option for families or large groups that require a little more assistance.
Value for money:
If you’re talking about pure dollar-for-dollar value, there are quite a few pizza joints out there that offer up similar pricing for better quality (and more authentic) dishes. Not horrifyingly expensive that I’d run for the hills if someone in my group suggested coming here, but not where I’d choose to go if I was feeling a touch broke at the end of the month but really wanted to eat some pizza.
Value for money: 0/1
The decor was nice, in the same way a mum would say, “hey let’s go out to a nice restaurant together tonight”. It was clean, inviting, pleasant…no dim lights and snooty wine lists here. But on that same note, there wasn’t a clear identity (have I mentioned that I’m partial to a good theme?), which would have pushed it from restaurant, to total experience.
Look, Bondi Pizza isn’t trying to pass themselves off as artisan/gourmet, and we aren’t under any illusions either. But when the menu is so large, it gets even harder to hit all the right notes, and that may be where it fails diehard foodies like us. We have eaten at enough specialised pizza places to know that if you were an absolute pizza fiend, this might not be the place to go.
However, if you had to cater for children, or non-foodies, this would be a very accessible starting point. Nothing was bad, and there were option a gluten free, vegetarian, etc – so you could customise your food as your dietary requirements needed.
Bonus points: 0/1