Sometimes you go back to an old favourite and think to yourself ‘How come I stayed away for so long?’.
It’s true, we don’t to Zizani Pizza as often as we did when we lived in West Coburg, and it was down the hill and just around the corner from us. Tonight we ended up there after riding down to Terranova Pizza Cafe on Moreland Road, only to find it closed until June. This ended up being a fortuitous event – it sent us cycling on our way up and down the hill to Melville Road to enjoy dinner at Zizani’s once again.
Previously known as Nicon’s, Zizani’s is a local suburban pizza restaurant that’s punching above its weight. It does an extensive range of classic pizzas that you would find in most suburban pizza restaurants – capriciosa, Margherita, napolitana, and those classics that appeal to the trash-child inside of me: Aussie and tropical (just to name a few – there’s 17 pizzas on their classic pizza menu). In addition, they do a gourmet range (12 in total). And while we haven’t exactly eaten our way through the entire gourmet pizza menu, we’ve eaten quite a few of their pizzas over the past 6 years and enjoyed mostly all of them. The freshness and quality of the ingredients used at Zizani’s, and their Italian home style cooking approach make for some delicious eating on Melville Road, which is not usually known as an eating destination.
This evening we enjoyed two of our favourite pizzas: eggplant and meatball.
Firstly, I want you to ignore that piece of bacon on the pizza. It shouldn’t be there. Secondly, this delicious pizza, topped with homemade Napoli sauce, thinly sliced and roasted eggplant, parmesan cheese, garlic, basil and parsley, is one of my favourites. The flavours in this pizza are very well-balanced – it’s not too cheesy, has just the right amount of Napoli sauce covering the base, and the eggplant and herbs are allowed to be the stars of this show. Sitting on a relatively thin although sometimes uneven base, tonight it was perfectly cooked, bursting with a fresh and satisfying flavour that left us both feeling very satisfied but not weighed down.
The meatball and sausage pizzas are two favourites of S. There’s not much difference between them, both pizzas are topped with Napoli sauce, cheese, parsley and delicious caramelised onions. The meatball pizza also has egg, which provides a lovely soft foil to the garlicky pork meatballs, which are the highlight of this pizza. Home-made, walnut sized balls of garlic and pork goodness, they really showcase why Zizani’s is such a good pizza restaurant. Little touches like this lifts Zizani above anything else you are likely to find in your average pizza bar.
We also ordered a bowl of home-made gnocchi with Napoli sauce. This was very good. The Napoli sauce was rich yet light, with no trace of acidity and a slight sweetness to it, which I found to be lovely. The gnocchi, while not quite near the greatness of that from the Abruzzo Club, was still light and fluffy, with no hint of stodginess. Another successful dish that I really enjoyed.
The pizza prices range from approximately $9.00 for a small up to $18.00 for a large gourmet pizza. Since they moved to their new premises, they seem to have expanded their main meal offerings as well. Classic pasta dishes are available as well as other favourites such as chicken parmagiana. There is a good range of vegetarian options available such as the eggplant, mushroom, potato and one called ‘Pylos’, which is a tomato, feta, olive pizza. This is one of my favourites – very fresh and tasty.
One thing to know about Zizani Pizza – they always cut their pizza slices unevenly. We used to joke that maybe they would shout themselves a new pizza cutting wheel when they moved into new premises two years ago, a couple of doors down from where they were trading as Nicon’s. But alas no – the pizza slices are as unevenly cut as they always have been and secretly we really quite like it that way – that’s the Zizani style. You won’t find the modern stylings of the ultra- hip Ladro here but rather, well-balanced pizzas that aren’t too doughy or overwhelmed by flavourless toppings, that won’t leave you disappointed. Zizani pizzas will surprise and satisfy you with their quality, freshness and deliciousness.
Finally, the staff at Zizani are lovely people who, even though we haven’t eaten there or ordered take-away from them for the best part of a year still remember us. They have a real pride in what they make and the ingredients they use. This comes through in the quality of their pizzas, pasta and other dishes. Some things to keep in mind if you’re interested in paying Zizani a visit. You can dine in, they also do take away (pick up only), but they’re a cash-only business so bring your money with you. As far as we can tell, they do BYO and there’s a decent bottleshop a couple of doors down that has both a good range of wine and an ATM.
What we had:
Eggplant pizza (small) $9.50
Meatball pizza (small) $9.90
Home-made gnocchi with Napoli sauce $12.90
Zizani Pizza and Pasta
241 Melville Road