Friday 21 October 2011

The Alphabet Dinners: I is for I Carusi

In The Alphabet Dinners series, I review the cheap restaurants of Melbourne... In alphabetical order.

It's been a while since I reviewed a cheap Melbourne restaurant taken from the Age Cheap Eats guide. That's partly because I was up to the letter I, and there weren't many choices.

Last night, however, I was on my way to sample the wares of the Taco Truck which pops up around suburban Melbourne - yesterday it was parked in North Carlton. But as I boarded the number 1 tram, the rain started falling, and I stayed on past my intended stop to find myself at I Carusi in East Brunswick.

According to the guide, this place has been doing pizzas with "all class but no frills" for over a decade. That said, I'm not surprised I haven't come across it before - its located within an old shopfront on Holmes St, just after the tram does a quick dogleg from the top end of Lygon St. It's a quiet stretch at night, and the lit-up restaurant stood out like a beacon on an overcast evening.

It looked like there were no free tables and I'd be out of luck, but then I was summoned through to the back room, to a little table by the rear door. Not a bad spot really, and the back room was buzzing with a big group at one long table and some smaller groups at others.

It was a pretty simple menu - a long list of pizzas in big and small sizes, with salads and desserts on a blackboard.

First to arrive was my glass of Cavallino Syrah Sicilia, the house red, served in a straightforward glass:

Next, the pizza arrived, breathtakingly quickly given how busy the restaurant was. The menu was replete with arty pizza variants including ones involving broccoli and gorgonzola, but I went for a classic - a small capricciosa with tomato, fiore di latte cheese, ham, mushrooms, olives and anchovies.

It was excellent, a beautiful balance of flavours and textures - a light crisp base, flavoursome tomato, fresh tasty toppings. Apologies for the blurry photo by the way, I'm still getting the hang of the camera on the new iPhone and didn't want to bother fellow diners by using the flash too much:

Alongside the pizza was this salad, with fiore di latte, basil and tomato. Excellent, though it did mean a very cheesy meal (my fault):

All up, the service was friendly and efficient, and the food was excellent. In fact I couldn't help thinking how much better the experience was compared to that at my 'B' restaurant Bande à Part, which isn't far away geographically and offers similar food.

The Bill: $29.50
The Restaurant: 46a Holmes St, East Brunswick; Ph: 03 9386 5522

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