December 9, 2012

224 Gertrude St, Fitzroy

Made it to Ladro a couple of weeks ago with two of the most significant lads in my life – my dad and my brother, who were all too happy to accompany me on my pizza tasting. The restaurant was pleasantly busy when we arrived, and the service was quick and very friendly.

We were seated near the kitchen so I was constantly jealous of all the delicious smelling food being served up – good thing pizza is quick to cook!

We started off with some beers and a serve of Ladro’s olives allascolana, green olives stuffed with pork and veal, crumbed and then fried. The best analogy I can come up with is that they’re kind of like scotch-olives (an italian take on scotch eggs, perchance?) A brilliant snack to have with drinks.

Sophia Loren casually babin on the cover of their menu. Goddamn, tomato sugo has never been so sexy!

First up was my favourite from the night, the Badabing; tomato, provolone, pork sausage, oregano, basil and a cheeky kick of chilli. Hot and cheesy and peppery, with the perfect charred crust and a sweet, wet tomato sugo.

We demolished it.

In the interest of variety, we decided to try a vegetarian pizza, and settled on the Porri E Gorgonzola: braised leek, gorgonzola, parsley and basil. This wasn’t a big hit with any of us – I think there was just too much leek and not enough of anything else. Barely a hint of gorgonzola was detected, which was a shame, given how well the heady blue cheese goes with pizza.

Fortunately though, we ended on another winner with the Salumi, a very simple base of tomato, fior di latte, parmigiano and your choice of either salami, prosciutto or bresaola (air cured wagyu beef). Obviously we went the whole hog and got the bresola, dark pink sheets of salty meat that brought this pizza to another level.

It made me think of the genesis of pizza; a cheap and filling food sauce – charred bread smothered with sugo and a bit of cheese. Peasant food, simple and unapologetic.

Just to note, ‘salumi’ refers to any kind of cured or preserved meat, while ‘salami’ refers to cured sausages in particular. You may think this distinction rather irrelevant, but you never know when you’ll be held at knifepoint by a salumi loving member of the mafia, and only your knowledge of his culture will entice him to spare your life and invite you over for cannoli. You never know….

“Don’t forget to leave room for DOLCE!”, screams the menu. Desserts were a must, and we shared the bombolini and the tiramisu.

The bombolini were my favourite, light and chewy miniature doughnuts covered in a healthy sprinkling of sugar and cinnamon, served with ice-cream and a tart blood orange syrup.

The tiramisu was also great, made with mascarpone, savoiardi, caffe and marsala. My dad thought it needed a stronger coffee flavour, and I was inclined to agree, though I did think the smooth texture and perfect ratio of mascarpone to biscuit was bloody brilliant.

I have also been asked to write that the hot chocolates here are excellent, slightly bitter but rich and smooth. “Add it to the list”, said Alex between sips.

Ladro was fast, delicious and convivial; definitely somewhere I’ll be returning – not even the scarce parking options on Gertrude street can deter me from my Badabing pizza and my Bombolini!!

Ladro Gertrude on Urbanspoon

Filed under: Fitzroy, Italian, Pizza