The battle was on. I was ready. Armed with my secret ingredients and a whole lotta trash talk, I was ready to win. What am I talking about? The Great Pizza Comp at Grosvenor Hotel of 2013 of course. I, along with a number of other bloggers, was invited to Grosvenor Hotel by Tink PR to invent a pizza. The best 3 of the night would go on the menu and be voted on by the public. The winning pizza would be put onto the restaurant menu for a month, with the victor allowed to eat their pizza endlessly for free for the whole month. You can read about the whole competition in detail at Michele's blog. It was such a fun night and I had the best time. It was amazing how inventive everyone was with their pizzas. Lots of amazing flavours there. Of course we had some help along with way with the bases from head chef Emile and my new friend Stefano, pizza mestro. We may have also had a "Ghost" moment. Think Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, and replace the clay with a pizza base.
After all the delicious eating, we all voted on which pizzas we liked best. Let's just say that while my "The Karaage Kid" pizza was awesome, Michele's Banhmigeddon pizza was even more awesome. I'll admit defeat when it hits me deliciously in the stomach. Below is my "The Karaage Kid" pizza, with Japanese chicken karaage, grilled capsicum, rocket, roasted sesame sauce on a tomato base. It worked really nicely and I would definitely make this again at home.
As we loved the pizzas so much, Michele, Cherrie, James, I-Hua, Aaron and I went back to Grosvenor Hotel to eat the now famous Banhimgeddon. Below is the said pizza. Look at how glorious the marinated chicken, pickled chili, pickled carrot, coriander, mayo and sriracha pizza looks. It seriously tastes amazing, just like a banh mi in pizza form.
Besides the Banhmigeddon, we also tried the mushroom pizza and sausage pizza. The bases are beautifully thin and crispy and the toppings very good, albeit a tiny bit inferior to the amazing banhmigeddon. I might be a bit biased as the banhmi pizza was my idea, which Michele executed perfectly.
To accompany the pizzas, we had the chips. Let me put it out there right now, these are Melbourne's best chips. Triple cooked chips over 72 hours in the style done by my food hero Heston, these chips are super crispy on the outside while maintaining the most delightful soft interior, and a wonderful flavour. Emile tells me he's constantly trying out different potatoes and thinks he's found an even better one, so I can't wait to try them. I've been on a chip hunt for a year now and if you think there's a better chip in Melbourne, please please let me know as I'd love to try it.
The last item we ordered was the chicken liver parfait. This parfait is my favourite I've tried anywhere. Emile says it's Marco Pierre White's recipe and it's stunning. I can't help comparing all chicken liver parfait to this one now. In the last month I've had chicken liver parfait at 3 other places and they all pale in comparison so badly. Even Cherrie's kids loved this parfait, which was a real shock. A tip, the parfait spread on the crust of the pizzas or eaten with the chips is unbelievable.
While Grosvenor Hotel does amazing pizzas, they also serve many other dinner menu items, such as a suckling pig. Uh huh. I can't wait to go back and try that as well.
Etto is a new pasta restaurant that has opened up in South Melbourne. Their self proclaimed vision statement is
"Etto’s all about fresh Italian street food – fresh pasta and seriously delicious sauces cooked to order in minutes with love & passion."
Their restaurant is a bit like Grill'd, simple items made freshly and tasting great. The store even has that Grill'd feel with a mix of fun and lots of mix and match options. After much thought, as everything looked so tempting, I decided on the Wagyu Meatballs with Papardelle, Salami with truffle oil linguini and Smoked salmon and capers spaghetti.
All the pastas were really nice. Everything is freshly made on the day and the pasta is either made on site or from a kitchen nearby and the sauces are made on site. Pastas are cooked to order and then the sauces are added. I really loved the wagyu meatballs with a pesto type sauce. The meatballs were covered in a rich sauce and my standout pasta was without doubt the papardelle. I'd be happy to eat that at any hatted restaurant. Perfectly smooth pasta cooked perfectly. The salami linguini was also very good. I really liked the spicy salami and again, the pasta was really good. I liked the fact that even the parmesan tastes good and not the fake stuff. The smoked salmon was pretty good, but it wasn't the usual smoked salmon I was expecting. Instead it's more like a lightly smoked salmon. It went well with the capers and rocket.
I was surprisingly impressed with everything as I was thinking that the fast food style place would produce rather generic tasting pasta. Instead, everything tasted really homely and I would go back for more. With dishes around the $11 mark, it would make for a great lunch or dinner. You can eat in, although there is limited seating, or take the food away to eat.
Etto is a simple nice concept which I can see working in the same manner as Grill'd. You can serve one type of food, but if you do it well, people will come back I think.
I dined courtesy of Etto.