224 Gertrude St
Fitzroy VIC 3065
+61 3 9415 7575
Adam’s turning 25 in a few days and my present to him was a black Braun Buffel wallet to replace the already-dilapidated one that he’s been carrying around for years. He also requested that I do not take him to a fine-dining restaurant this year and that he would be happy with just ‘pizza and beer.’ Of course, there was no way I would sit around eating filthy Domino’s pizza while sipping cans of VB in front of the telly so I took him to Ladro on Gertrude Street, heeeeeh!
The tiny restaurant, which was like a grown-up version of Lower Templestowe’s Pizza Espresso, had only just opened their doors when we, along with three other parties, walked in to be seated in time for our 6pm booking (we had to leave by 7:30pm). Naturally, it was almost pitch-dark but thank goodness for my 1000D, I thought to myself as I attached the lens to my camera while the waitress poured us some water.
I’m very much into alcoholic ciders at the moment so I ordered a bottle of Napoleone & Co Cider from Punt Road breweries ($9.50), a dry cider which Adam liked but I thought was a little bit bland (almost veering into Pipsqueak territory but not quite).
For some strange reason, Adam chose a Martini ($15) over a beer from the list of seven local and imported varieties. He has never had a martini before (?!) and despite my pleas to ‘just be a bloke and go for a beer’ and my ‘you won’t like it, it’s gross’ arguments, he refused to relent. Anyway, it did not come in a cocktail glass which I thought was quite odd…
I did like the way they lined up the olives though.
Olive oil and sourdough bread, presumably from Fatto a Mano next door.
We started off with a serving of Bosc pear, pecorino picante and truffled honey ($7.50), a nod to the Roman forefathers. I really liked the sickly-sweet and salty contrast, diffused only very slightly with the subtle hints of truffle specks in the honey.
Our search for a tomato-based pizza led us to the ‘Badabing‘, a combination of tomatoes, provolone, pork sausage, oregano, fresh chili and basil ($20.50). I kind of expected the pizza to be all gung-ho, Tony Soprano-style, but I found the flavour combination to be very mellow, gelling together like a group of middle-aged WASPs on a Roman holiday. Nevertheless, it was lovely. Adam also gave his thumbs up. He admitted that he actually preferred the Pizza Hut-style puffy crusts to the more traditional thin base and crust so he wasn’t expecting much from Ladro. He, however, got his mind blown away by the Badabing. The crust and base may have been thin and crispy, he said, but there was still a level of chewiness and bite which prompted him to give it a tick of approval. So there.
While Adam was loving his pizza, I was professing my love for the gnocchi with brown butter, sage and ricotta salata ($20). Those of you who know me will attest to the fact that I never (like seriously, NEVER) order gnocchi at restaurants. What compelled me to order this dish is something that I’m still trying to figure out myself but damn, it was probably the best choice I made since dropping Kurt Tippett from my Supercoach team. Soft, pillowy potato cubes that melted in your mouth along with the silky burnt butter and sage sauce. Add a few shavings of ricotta salata for that extra kick and BHAM, you have one ridiculously amazing dish.
We may have only ordered two mains to share but we were both too full to order dessert. This was a shame as I was really keen on trying their famed bomboloni (Italian doughnuts with vanilla ice cream and blood orange syrup) but I guess they’ll have to wait until next time. Better than Domino’s and VB? Heck, yes!