In addition to being members of the Red Wine Club, The Brooding Architect and I are also members of a Pizza Club. Generally, the Brooding Architect is not a fan of organised group activities. More often than not he prefers to chill out at home with some beers and our latest obsession, the late 90s TV Show, Freaks and Geeks. However, the Brooding Architect is prepared to compromise and even be a party to his pet hate – the dreaded ‘reply all’ group email – in order to satisfy his pizza cravings.
Much like Red Wine Club, the rules of Pizza Club are pretty lax. A group of various Melbourne imports all meet up at a different pizza restaurant for dinner on the first Thursday of the month. A friend who is far more organised than me, the Frustrated Public Servant, sends out all of the details and it magically becomes a calendar appointment. I don’t have these special administrative skills. This is why make sure that I always stay on the good side of my secretary.
The Brooding Architect and I were out of town when the first meeting of Pizza Club took place, but managed to make it along to the second meeting which was held at Mr Wolf on Inkerman Street in St Kilda. It is very rare for The Brooding Architect and I to head south of the river these days – particularly after dark. Mr Wolf, seemed like a very genteel place, compared to the grit and grunge of my local pizza places on Sydney Road. On second thoughts, it may just have been Mr Wolf’s woodland creature themed interior, which gave me that impression.
Overall, I thought the Mr Wolf experience was pretty average. The pizzas were good, but unfortunately the service really lets the place down – and by no means am I service snob. At a cheap to mid-range place, all I really expect is ‘not to die of thirst’ and be offered a drink (preferably alcoholic at dinner time) within 15 minutes. At Mr Wolf it took two attempts to flag down a waitress and be given a drinks list. With a group of 15 people, failing to take a drinks order sooner rather than later is only doing restaurant a disservice, losing an easy $130 from a round of beers and wine. That said, when I finally got my drink, I was really impressed with the Kelly Brothers Cider. Be warned though with a 7% alcohol content it really packs a punch. At Mr Wolf cider is served with lots of ice and a lime of wedge. I think this makes for a really refreshing combination and plan to steal this idea to use at home for drinks over the Summer.
Given that there were so many people on the table, I only got to sample the 4 pizzas at my end. These were the:
- No. 9: mozzarella di bufala, prosciutto, rocket ($23)
- Sicilian: mozzarella, prawns, peas, chilli, cherry tomatoes, fior de latte ($23.50)
- Broccolini: roasted garlic paste, mozzarella, broccolini, pancetta, gorgonzola ($23)
- Calabrese: tomato, mozzarella, parmigiano, salami, peppers, olives, roast chilli ($23)
Of these, my standout was the definitely the Broccolini. I have a weakness for a good, strong blue cheese (the mouldier the better in my mind) and this gorgonzola hit the spot. Although it seems strange to pair gorgonzola with broccolini, the combination just seemed to work. The broccolini was young and sweet and seemed to balance out the punchy gorgonzola. Plus all those greens make you feel somewhat healthy – even when you are stuffing your face with pizza. The crispy pancetta on top added some extra texture and crunch to the dish and somehow tied all the flavours together.
The Brooding Architect was partial to the Sicilian. The flavours of the Sicilian were subtle and understated – the complete opposite of the Broccoini . The thin slivers of preserved lemon matched the juicy, just opaque prawns perfectly. The use of fior de latte (mozzarella made from water buffalo milk, rather than the usual cow’s milk variety) made this pizza a bit special – well above the usual ‘what’s in the box’ takeaway variety.
The pizzas and drinks came to $30 per head. The bill would have been higher though had we managed to get the waitress’ attention and order another round of drinks.
Good pizza, shame about the service. I would be prepared to give Mr Wolf another chance on BYO Tuesday though – at least I know I can always get my attention for a glass of wine.