24 October 2010
Ladro @ 224 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy
Ladro has consistently been awarded one Chef’s Hat in The Age Good Food Guide in recent years. Being the only pizzeria in town to currently hold one of these coveted Hats, I was intrigued to see how it would fare in comparison to venerable pizza establishments such as D.O.C., Pizza Espresso and +39 (see Pizza Espresso blog post).
The pizzas at Ladro should keep traditionalists happy with its thin bases and sparse toppings. The ever so simple, yet ever so popular, Margherita contained a thin layer of tomato sugo, healthy dollops of buffalo mozzarella and a sprinkling of basil leaves. As the name suggests, the “Badabing” was a bit more exciting with its provolone cheese, herb-laced pork sausage, basil leaves and warming chillis. The ingredients that graced the pizza crust were very fresh and full of flavour, however, the tomato sugo was not as robust as the tomato puree used at the Nicolini establishments and the buffalo mozzarella was noticeably inferior to the delicate milky mozzarella di buffala used at D.O.C.
The true downfall of Ladro’s pizzas however lies in its dough. Ladro’s dough is manifestly chewier than any other pizza dough I have ever experienced. The chewy consistency worked nicely for the crust, but it had completely destroyed the rest of the pizza. The marriage of thin chewy dough with a wet tomato base had somehow rendered the pizza soggy. This unforgiving sogginess had soiled the entire pizza, and hence, my entire meal. Even the respectable pizza toppings could not rescue these pizzas from their demise.
Ladro pizzas are clearly second-rate to Nicolini pizzas. It is truly confounding that Ladro is the only pizza restaurant in Melbourne that is, apparently, worthy of a Chef’s Hat. Ladro joins the ever-expanding list of restaurants that, in my opinion, do not deserve the standing ovation they receive from The Age Good Food Guide. Having also encountered substandard dining experiences at highly acclaimed places such as Vue de Monde, Jacques Reymond, Verge, Matteo’s, The Point, Comme Kitchen, Becco and Sarti, I continue to question the impartiality of the reviewers at The Age and, consequently, the credibility of their reviews.