101 Bay Street
Port Melbourne VIC 3207
+61 3 9646 6088
Disclaimer: Libby dined as a guest of Bay 101, The Pizza Festival 2013 and Keep Left PR.
Pizzas. Who doesn’t love them? Not only are they delicious and simple, they are also a versatile meal – give me pizza for breakfast over cereal any day! So when Kat from Left PR asked me if I wanted to attend the Melbourne Pizza Festival this year, I knew I couldn’t say no.
Established by Italian-born SBS journalist Matteo Rubbettino, the Pizza Festival’s aim is to show Melburnians what authentic Italian pizzas are like. While a Pizza Napoletana is designed to have a high edge and crispy base, the Pizza Romana has a lower edge and a level base. Meanwhile, the Pizza Italiana sits in the middle. Either way, these pizzas are cooked in wood-fire ovens for 90 seconds at 400 degrees and contain only a handful of good quality fresh ingredients. Yep, none of this Domino’s BBQ Meatlovers rubbish.
During the festival’s two-week period, a different restaurant each night will offer a ‘Signor promo’ deal where $20 gets you a pizza from the menu and your choice of grain or grape from the options available. I was lucky to be invited to a couple of those restaurants, starting with Bay 101 in Port Melbourne.
I had never heard of Bay 101, so I was glad that the festival gave me an excuse to go. Unfortunately, I had one of ‘those’ days at work so I must admit that when I was walking down Bay Street in the blistering cold Melbourne winter night, I was a bit of a crankypants. It also didn’t help that when I walked into the café and gave the waitress my booking name, she looked as if she was ready to take me to my table … but as soon as someone else walked into the café, she said, ‘Excuse me’ to me before rushing to greet them. What was that all about?!
Thankfully, the manager of the restaurant took over and showed me to a table, a big six-seater in the middle of the room. Apparently the smaller tables were ‘booked’ for the night but when I did eventually leave the restaurant, I didn’t see anyone sit on them. Odd indeed, but whatever.
The Signor promo menu offered a choice of two wines, a beer and soft drinks. Now, I had an inkling that the Kasaura Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2012 was the white out of the two, but I was only 60% sure so I asked the waitress which of the two wines was the white. She confirmed that the Trebbiano was the white but when I asked her if it was sweet, she said that she didn’t know so she excused herself to ask someone.
Now, I didn’t expect her to be a Sommelier and talk about tannins, acidity, chocolate starfish notes and all that. Just a simple ‘Yeah nah, it’s dry’ would have been perfectly okay. Plus, there were only two wines on the menu so the least Bay 101 could have done was to give a 30 second pep talk on the waitress just in case they get asked. But anyway.
Here’s my speck pizza. All the pizzas on the menu actually sounded good. In any other circumstance, I wouldn’t have minded trying the Salsiccia (cheese, mushrooms, sausages and caramelised shallots, oh my!) or the Gambero one (because who doesn’t love prawns?) but because I just wanted something light, I chose something that didn’t look too heavy.
Apologies for the quality of the photos – I left my camera at home! The pizza, an Italiana-style one, was beautiful, absolutely beautiful. Although I was most impressed with the base that was crispy with just a little bit of chewiness, I also loved the top-notch toppings. The salty cheese, the earthy mushrooms and the smoked prosciutto really made the perfect threesome.
I did find the radicchio pesto a bit bitter though. While it worked alright when eaten with the rest of the ingredients, there were moments when I’d bite into a large pocket of pesto and I’d be like, ‘YIKES! BITTER! GROSS!’ My fault for forgetting that radicchio is bitter, though.
I was this close to finishing the pizza but alas, I couldn’t eat the last two slices so I took them home for lunch the next day. If I had an extra stomach, I also wouldn’t have minded trying the pan-cooked pizza with Nutella, pear and vanilla ice cream but that’ll have to be for another time.
Bay 101 was a bit of a pleasant surprise for me and I’m glad that I had the opportunity to try it via the Pizza Festival. The service might not have been the best (and there was one mix-up at the end – not the fault of the restaurant but in the end, it was the festival photographer who resolved it) but the food definitely saved it from being a place that I wouldn’t return to again. Port Melbourne is still a bit of a hike for me at the best of times but if I was in the area or lived closer to the city, I’d give it another crack.