What IS pizza, anyway? I mean, the term historically belongs to the Italians, who have made it more a philosophy involving woodfired flatbread, sweet tomatoes, and sun drenched afternoons with wine. But in more modern times, the term has been somewhat bastardised (like Jon Snow!) to mean any sort of flat bread, usually with a sauce and cheese.
Which brings us to Manoosh Pizzeria: located in Enmore, this takeaway-style shop specialises in Lebanese style pizzas, and even offers up something for vegans – not something you see too often at a pizza shop.
Pizza topped with vegan chorizo, vegan cheese, greens and served with a side of lemon
Beef deluxe, $8
Beef fillets,grilled onions,melted cheese,fresh tomato,lettuce and pickles topped with mustard mayo then wrapped up
Zaatar Deluxe Style, $8
Zaatar cooked with cheese,pepperoni and chilli flakes then wrapped up with fresh tomato,capsicum,olives and onions.
A delicious blend of halawa (sweet tahini), pistachios & banana enclosed in puff pastry
What really drew me to Manoosh Pizzeria to begin with was that they had completely vegan options on the menu. No, I’m not abandoning my ‘hedonistic’ meat-loving lifestyle, but my acquisition of vegan friends suddenly has given me an awareness of how hard it is to find vegan options outside of suburbs like Bondi.
We tried the Vegan Wonder (sounds like it should be a new Marvel movie!) with greens, vegan chorizo and vegan cheese. Charlie, the owner, tells me that he usually uses a vegan mozzarella for ultimate melty goodness, but due to *ahem* supply issues, he’s using a vegan cheddar instead. The thing is, either way, the Vegan Wonder makes for a good bite. In the words of Simon, “Eating it doesn’t make me angry”. There were some good flavours in there, and everything worked well in harmony. BUT it was just missing a little bit texturally. The vegan chorizo had an odd spongy texture to it – not unlike a typical fish cake you would find in asian dishes – which throws me off because my mind was expecting, well, chorizo. The cheese, as well, was lacking a melty oozy quality that you look forward to when you have cheese.
Good try, but I wouldn’t particularly order it unless I was vegan.
On the meatier front – the Beef Deluxe was like a cheese burger masquerading in wrap form. (Man, we’ve got a real superhero theme going on here) The mustard mayo, beef, pickles, fresh tomato and melted cheese gets wrapped in Lebanese bread, for a juicy, filling lunch. In fact, a touch too juicy for my liking, but I’ve always liked my beef with a good charred flavour anyway, which is hard to get with a slow-cooked pulled meat.
If you were leaning towards a wrap, though, I would strongly recommend the Zaatar deluxe. The salty spicy hit of the pepperoni and chilli flakes are balanced by the cheese and fresh tomato, and the capsicum, olives and onion just complete a moreish mouthful that keeps you coming back for more. Very satisfying, but not quite as “naughty” tasting as say, a late night kebab wrap after a night out.
A lunch version, perhaps, that doesn’t make you too heavy to carry on with your day.
The Halawa actually took me by complete surprise. Pizza places aren’t exactly…known for their desserts, and I wasn’t expecting Manoosh Pizzeria to be much different. Boy, was I wrong. A crispy puff pastry parcel enclosed a middle-eastern sweet tahini paste, banana and pistachio for a super rich end to your meal. This is the kind of dessert that has to be eaten piping hot, and makes you go “YAAASSSSSS”.
As with Ho Jiak, it’s hard to speak of table service when you order and pay at the counter. The staff are young, but seem slightly more interested in the work than, say, teenagers at McDonald’s. I also had the pleasure of being looked after by Charlie, the owner, which would make my experience fairly different from the average punter.
I will say this, though. They DO have tables for you to eat in, as well as water for the table, which gives Manoosh Pizzeria a few more brownie points over the average takeaway-style pizza shop.
Value for money:
You can get fairly well-fed for below $10. which is a pretty good deal this close to the city. It would be a viable option if I was a Uni student in the area, and that’s my ultimate litmus test.
Not super-amazing, but definitely good value.
Manoosh Pizzeria doesn’t strike me as a particularly “designed” experience – there’s a functionality in the fluorescent lights and plain space that is efficient in a “get in and get out” sort of way. Certainly not somewhere that you’d look to have a leisurely catchup lunch at, but something tells me that it wasn’t what they were aiming for anyway.
So we’ve come back to the question: what IS pizza? In this case, it’s a fairly relaxed definition, a tribute to the “she’ll be alright” value that Australia holds so dear. “Pizza”, it seems, is used as a gentle introduction to the concept of Man’oushe – a lebanese flatbread traditionally topped with za’atar and olive oil. Toppings such as cheese follow – because everything is made better with cheese – and the rest, as they say, is history.
On the whole, Manoosh Pizzeria, for me, sits somewhat in the middle of the heap. They’re not reaching for the cult foodie status as, say, Hartsyard, but they don’t seem to just be there to make a quick buck off party-goers too drunk to recognise whether the food is good or bad. The vegan option is a nice addition – and even though I’m not a person who understands why you would try an substitute something like meat (just eat something else that’s delicious in its own right, right?!), I can appreciate that this is still a viable option for vegan friends.
I’d definitely consider going to Manoosh Pizzeria if I was in the area, but I’m not sure I’d make a special trip out.