A pizza’s a pizza, right? Abso-blooming-lutely not I say. Here (in no particular order) are some veritable ‘Pizza Palaces’ that will keep you serenading in Italiano long into these chilly Winter nights…
Oh, and I’ve snouted and scouted my way through a very long list of options to bring you these largely hidden gems that you won’t find on all the major eating out websites, so you can feel like a real pizza pioneer to boot.
The bella signora (The Lovely Lady)
Get your bistro on baby. This place has classic chequered floors and the requisite Mediterranean flair (can be translated into endearingly mildly kitsch) that you would expect of any seasoned Italian eatery.
David and Mari Verte have been serving up princely pizzas for over 20 years so I guess it’s safe to say they know a thing or two about getting it right. Sitting comfortably in the upper echelons of pizza prices, this is perhaps a more thought-about eat out option rather than a frivolous last-minute grab-a-bite-joint. I mean, how many other pizza joints do you know where you can buy bubbly by the glass?
Shop 2, Piazza Level
011 268 6684
Casalottis Pizza Rapido, Craighall Park
Il aunty fidele (The faithful Aunt)
Here’s where words like ‘cheerful’, ‘family friendly’ and ‘unpretentious’ come to mind. The epitome of no-mess no-fuss Italian, with the paper for-drawing-on tablecloths that all pizza-loving kids know and love.
The Casalottis pizzas also join the ranks with almost 20 years of experience, so I guess it’s safe to say that they know a thing or two about pulling pukka pizzas from the oven.
You can also get gluten-free pizza bases. Oh, AND they deliver for ten bucks. Pretty skoochie.
110 Clarence Avenue,
corner Lancaster Avenue
011 788 0886 / 011 788 3513
Piza e vino, Rosebank
Bring on the funky cousin (Il cugino funky)
(Can you tell I am having a heck of a lot of fun with my google translate today?)
I am not usually a fan of eateries in shopping malls. There’s something about the fluorescent light, and ubiquitous plastic chairs, and well, mall-y stuff, BUT these guys had me at the Pizza with Truffle Oil and Mascarpone. Not a bad shopping interlude if you’re on a mall trawl now is it? They say “Simple, fresh Italian food cooked in an authentic way with a twist”.
They are also the most hip and happening of the pizzerias on my list, taking social media and special offers to a new level, 2 for 1 on Mondays and a very decent loyalty programme (i.e a lot more than just a free cappuccino once a year).
Their Italian sausages are made with pork from happy Natal-farmed pigs. And if you’re not in the mood for pizza, the oxtail ragu sounds pretty darn delicious.
011 447 6569
The best friend (l'migliore amico)
No-mess no-muss fuss just great value pizzas are what these folks are all about. And I also feel like jumping in my car right now and going over there to order the ‘Premier pasta with porcini mushrooms, zucchine, Italian pork sausage, chilli, garlic, white wine, rosemary, olive oil, whiskey and mascarpone cheese’. Sho.
It’s your classic suburban ‘round-the-corner’ restaurant that you will find yourself frequenting on chilly week-nights when only the king of Italian-style comfort food will do.
And don’t forget, they have a wine list to suit all ‘pallets’ (I am comforting myself with the premise that English is probably not their first language – which surely means pukka pizza right there.)
Riverclub Shopping Centre
Cnr Northleigh Crescent & Poplar Roads
Modo Mio, Sandton
The hidden gem (la gemma nascosta)
They have Zuccini fries. And they are drop dead delicious. And well, then there’s the dessert pizzas. Need I say more?
Modo Mio is tucked away in "Shepherd's Market" off Jan Smuts (between Hyde Park Centre & the Colony) and opens onto a not-so-grand parking lot. But don’t let that put you off for one single second. It’s a cute little trattoria that deserves your undivided attention very soon.
339 Jan Smuts Avenue
Shepherd Market, Randburg/Hyde Park
The Jolly Roger, Parkhurst
Erm, The Rugger Bugger (for which there is clearly no Italian translation)
I know, could you get any more un-Italian right there? And if you’re picturing raucous pub-crawlers and beer brawlers, you are probably right. Jukebox and all. BUT they don’t let that stop them from serving up kick-ass pizzas for great value. So go on, get in the mood, chug a pint and grab a slice, you won’t be disappointed. The old faithfuls, of whom there are many, swear by the home made chilli sauce and the Basil Mania Pizza (salami, fresh tomato, basil and ripe avocado).
Also, enjoy half price pizza on Wednesdays and Sundays.
10 4th Avenue
011 442 3954
The beautiful (la belezza)
Il Giardino has it all, the trickling fountain, the olive trees and the cobblestones. They have surpassed all requirements to take you on a little tour of Italy, and you can taste it all the way to the last crumb of your stone-ground thin-based pizza. Add to that the vibey atmostphere of trendy 44 Stanley in general and we have ourselves a veritable home run on the pizza trail. Perfect for special occasions, or for when you feel like taking a bit out of la bella vita.
And which pizza would I pick? Pizza con Zucca è Rucola at R85, which translates to honey-glazed butternut, gorgonzola, bacon, on onion marmalade base topped with fresh rocket.
And taking the Jozi mentality of more is more, they also boast live music on Wednesday and Friday nights and Sunday lunches, from their in-house bands.
44 Stanley Avenue
011 482 4978
Sarah Graham is author of Bitten and blogs with us on Food24. Follow her on twitter @foodieliveshere.
Please tell us in the comments below where you like to eat your slice.