Shameful confession time: I had never been to EITHER of the Ladros before I received an invitation from Joe to join him at the Prahran location for his birthday dinner. Me, who has such a love for thin-crust pizza. Heavens! This was an oversight I was terribly keen to rectify.
Now, I am going to tackle this particular review a little differently to my normal meandering method. While I loved Ladro’s food with a mad passion, there were several aspects of service that I found problematic. So I’m going to get all my grumps out of the way first before plunging into the delight of the food.
First of all, the waitstaff that we encountered were quite cold in demeanor. The gent in charge of our table was taciturn, unsmiling, and attempted to rush through our ordering in an unpleasantly brusque manner. Other staff were not quite so bad, but there was virtually zero interaction apart from “Your pizza is now in front of you, now WHOOSH! off I go into the night.”
Then there was the wait for food. Now, I am a deeply impatient person, I do not like to wait for anything (reason why you will never see reviews here of any of those places that don’t take reservations and you have to wait for hours to get in. “Two hour wait for tables?! FUCK OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOFF!”). But often waits for food can be alleviated by the quality of your company, and in the case of this Ladro visit I was in extremely good company, so I was happily distracted for a good while. But then that silence descended upon the table – you know exactly what kind – where everyone simultaneously realised that we’d been waiting a very long time for food. In all, we waited 45 minutes before any food reached the table. The space had not even been half-full when we ordered, and we received no word from waiters on whether our orders would be reaching us soon, even when it became obvious that we were all getting restless and muttering, making me think that perhaps this kind of wait is the standard. Disappointing.
Now, here’s the final doozy. Let me detail how you really tick Hayley off in a pizza restaurant: give her a pizza she has to cut up herself. Seriously, can this insistence on giving customers whole, uncut pizzas just die in the arse already? Or at least can we be provided with cutlery that can actually manage the job without causing extreme discomfort? The pointer finger on my fork hand nearly bent over backwards with the pressure of trying to cut through the crust, and I wasn’t the only one in our party nursing very sore hands afterward. Nor was I the only one muttering darkly that the cutlery was exactly the same as what’s provided at Lucky Coq, and at the very least their uncut pizzas are only $4!
Right, I promise that is the last gripe out of the way, now here’s the delicious goodness!
The pizza bases at Ladro are thin. Ever so thin. They crisp at the edges and bubble with air pockets that shatter into slightly charred triangles of crunchy delight. They not only manage to be crispy, but they are also chewy, the kind of satisfying chew that massages your molars. These bases are so damn good that when I was starting to get full I seriously considered scraping off the topping and just hoeing down on the carbs.
But that is not to suggest that the topping was bad, oh no! My boscaiola – flor di latte, porcini, field mushrooms and thyme – was a gorgeously rich spread, with abundant mushrooms and melty, stretchy, pungent cheese.
Indeed, every pizza that reached our table was a beautiful thing to look at. Clare’s potato pizza was all overlapping potato slices with the occasional dot of green in the form of rosemary and basil. Catherine’s salami delivered on it’s promise and was covered in equally-spaced rounds of red salami swimming agreeably in tomato and mozzarella, like an edible polka-dot pillow cover. Schaefer’s puttanesca was undoubtably the prettiest, all full cherry tomatoes and whole black olives perched on top, although Jojo’s gamberi e piselli came close, with big fat prawns surrounded by a fringe of green peas and basil.
Joe and Muffin had the best idea though, in that they shared a boscaiola and a Scout’s pizza (tomato, taleggio, caramelised onion, dressed rocket and parmigiano) between them. It was the best idea because even though these are great tasting pizzas, they are BIG pizzas, and having a single one to yourself does get a little arduous. Both Muffin and Joe expressed their satisfaction in having a bit of variety. So I will definitely be following their example next time.
So even with all my service gripes, I’m keen for there to be a next time? Yep! Ladro provided pizzas that were just as delicious and well-crafted as I had hoped to imagine, and there are plenty of vegetarian options that I am keen to explore (starting with the Scout’s pizza. Food envy!). Although I must admit that I’ll probably try out the Gertrude Street original before heading back to the Prahran location, in the hope that perhaps the level of service northside is a bit more polished.
162 Greville Street, Prahran
Ph: 9510 2233