Pizza in this town is a bit like sushi: There’s a lot of crap around and you have to know where to look to find the good stuff. Odd, because Sydney has pretty sizeable populations of both Italians and Japanese, but there you have it. Sushi is all too often rolled up by machines in Marrickville industrial units or left for too long doing the rounds on sushi trains, the fog inside each dish’s plastic lid giving a fair indication of how many times that pair of salmon nigiri has passed “go”. Pizza’s not much better: some gems out there, but far too many places still cook their pies in those horrible conveyer belt ovens that look like nothing so much as overgrown versions of the toasters at not-quite-five-star resorts’ breakfast buffets.
The Prick reckons that one place that ought to be mentioned in the same breath as those aforementioned gems is Franks’ Pizza in Camperdown, just at the corner of Australia Street and Parramatta Road. On a tip from a couple of co-workers we brought the Three Little Pricks there the other night and had a blast. In a barn-like spot, they do a big, fast trade with the Camperdown locals: singles, couples, families, the lot. Plenty of expensively-distressed Deus ex Machina t-shirts on guys who’ll never mount anything more powerful than a Vespa (or their wives, who according to the latest local census data are as likely as not to be out-earning and out-performing their men on the career front).
True, Frank’s doesn’t use a wood-fired oven, but it’s a proper pizza oven nonetheless – just like in the New York pizza parlours of the Prick’s youth (it was all I could do to resist going to the counter to break a five for quarters with which to play the Zaxxon machine). The menu is pretty basic, but they’re not precious about mixing and matching as you like, and what they do they do well. A starting snack of garlic pizza had us at bon giorno: The crust was thin and crispy, the garlic redolent. My
Napoletana – olives and anchovies – was augmented with pepperoni and was pretty much the Platonic ideal of the pie. Everyone else was happy with their selections. And has been noted elsewhere, the prices look like they were set around the time Bob Hawke was putting away Blanche. The entire Prick family got out of there for a grand total of $63.
Frank’s will never be as “cool” as, say, Gigi’s in Newtown or Lucio in Darlinghurst. It’s unlicensed and BYO, so if you want to wash down your pies with a hand-picked Nebbiolo, it’s all you. It doesn’t hand-shave gossamer-thin prosciutto on a restored antique Benrimer. They proudly do daggy combos like “the Australian” or ham-and-pineapple. That’s fine. We have enough – too much – cool in this town. What we need more of is places like Frank’s that don’t change to meet the times, but make the times meet them on their own terms.
That pizza looks really good – pepperoni, anchovy and olive is my favorite, too. We used to have a really good pizza restaurant in Goulburn, with an obsessive owner who shopped in Sydney for fior de latte and buffalo mozzarella, white anchovies and high quality meats. The locals never came to terms with such thin bases and sparse but tasty toppings.
In any case, there is now nowhere to eat decent pizza in town, unless you do it your self. I got a flier from Domino’s today, and it announced a new chef’s inspirations range. These pizzas sound truly bizarre. What about BBQ pork belly and hollandaise? Smoked bacon rasher and blue cheese?
The ultimate horror on the list is Peking style duck and blue cheese pizza, served on creme fraiche base with mozzarella, rasher bacon, spinach and chives. I once had a duck confit and onion pizza in Darlinghurst that was not bad, and in a moment of madness in Belgium in the late 70’s ordered a snail pizza, but I have no desire to see what the Domino’s Peking duck and blue cheese pizza tastes like. What on earth could they have been thinking to invent that, taste it, and put it on the menu?
Count your blessings, Prick. While there are many good things about living the country, being able to get good, tasty and not even pretentious pizza is not one of them, at least in Goulburn.
Agree completely, Dr Duck. Mrs Prick and I saw an ad for those ghastly Domino’s offerings the other night and recoiled: that sort of novelty is barely passable at the Australian Hotel, but unforgiveable in this context. And you can only imagine the quality of blue cheese and alleged Peking duck that’d be on those pies … ugh.
Dr Duck – have you tried Green Grocer Cycling cafe in Goulburn? Yep – sounds like an odd place for pizza, but my friends down that way swear by it. It’s the only place I’ll have breakfast at when in town.
Anon, I agree that the breakfasts are pretty good, but the pizzas are variable – the wood fired oven is sometimes not hot enough and the toppings are generally not of good quality. Anchovies in particular are very ordinary. Still, they have the best coffee in town.
We heard about Franks and tried it out one night because it is just up the road. Quite frankly it was very average and flavourless. But it was cheap. Very cheap.