When its your birthday it’s a must to celebrate, big or small, it has to be made an occasion of. So with my birthday fast approaching, it was a great excuse to get everyone together for a big catch up dinner. Eighteen of us planned to meet so we had to find a place to fit us all. Luckily a friend suggested Mad Pizza e Bar in Darlinghurst, it had just recently opened it’s upstairs private room where you can get the “thinnest, best ever pizza!” Hearing that, I picked up the phone, spoke to Tristian (the delightful manager) and booked the room.
Friday night came and so did my excited stomach. Walking into Mad Pizza you get this instant sense you’re no longer in the hip hub of east Sydney but on the cobbled streets of romantic Rome, complete with red and white checked tablecloths. Meeting a few of my girlfriends outside the quirky picket fence (which cornered off the restaurant) we weaved our way through the crowds of people eating and waiting for a table. As we made our way upstairs we couldn’t not stop and stare at the colourful pizza’s and dishes that were making there way out of the kitchen. Our stomach’s began to growl.
This place is quirky, funky and a little bit traditional, kind of like your typical Italian Trattoria meets the Gazebo. There’s Frank the (fake) deer head that looks over the downstairs customers from behind the bar, while upstairs we walked into a 60’s styled room with oval shaped mirrors, fake ivory plants, and religious relics looking down on us.
Sitting on the classic bistro chairs, some with backs and some just stools, the funky DJ mixed Italian music instantly put us all in the mood for a big night. The waitress asked if we wanted cocktail jugs ($24) to start, but with no cocktail list she said they can whip up anything, we decided on peach mojitos and classic caprioskas, the boys went for beers (there are 8 to chose from).
Glasses clinked, beers gulped and cocktails sipped, it was on to the menu. There was a tempting $25 per person deal for all you can eat pizza and insalata, we chose to order straight from the pizza menu, if we got hungry order more later. Once the waitress took our order (six pizza’s out of the thirteen on the menu), she offered us more drinks while we waited. This time we went for berry caprioskas and classic mojitos (beware they are very delicious, alcoholic and go down way to easily).
There is also a great selection of wines from Italy, France, Australia and New Zealand, the waitress wasn’t that helpful in this area, so a few of us just ordered what looked good or what they had had before.
After thirty minutes, four cocktail jugs, two bottles of wine and a fare few beers between us our pizza finally arrived, one by one. As I took my first bite into the ‘mad margarita’ (sweet cherry tomato’s, basil leaves & bocconcini w/ shaved parmesan) I tasted the tang of the Parmesan followed by the sweet cherry tomatoes and melted bocconcini, a perfectly balanced pizza. The ‘de mario’ (roast pumpkin, crumbed feta, chilli, mint leaves, red onion & pine nuts) came second and was a great vegetarian option. The third pizza was for the meat lovers, the ‘tibia’ (shredded lamb shank, grilled eggplant, red onion & rocket leaves w/ yogurt dressing) was delicious with succulent lamb and eggplant cooked to perfection, lightly drizzled with the yogurt dressing, this is a definite one to try. We also had the ‘primavera’ (spicy tomato base, roma tomato’s, rocket leaves, prosciutto and parmesan cheese) and ‘funghi’ (fat field mushrooms, rosemary, feta & rocket eaves with shaved parmesan & white truffle oil) that were delicious too. But, my favourite was the simple ‘havianna’ (double smoked ham, fresh pineapple, oregano and cherry tomatoes). It’s that typical pizza you order when you’re a kid, but here they have made it more grown up. The thick slices of smoked ham covered every pizza piece, topped with the sweetest, juiciest pineapple squares and cherry tomatoes that dissolved in your mouth with every bite. The cheese was perfectly proportioned on top, leaving me wanting more and more. After the six pizzas’ we were not full, so we order four more pizza’s, ‘havianna’ included of course.
After ten pizzas, multiple drinks and lots of laughing we were full. Enchanting as it was, I had one criticism and that was the pizzas took too long to come out. I advise if you’re in a large group order salads and garlic bread to start because otherwise, like us, you will be starving and won’t appreciate the fresh local produce that they use.
Overall this place was great. The service was good, the food scrumptious and full of flavour with a fun and quirky atmosphere. Obviously the locals think so too, when we left at 10pm there were still people lining up waiting for a table (how very European).
What makes Mad e Pizza Bar so cool is that it doesn’t try to be cool, its food is simple yet mouth watering, its atmosphere is fun and a bit eccentric, and its pizza bases are incredibly thin, just perfect for that guilt free pizza eater.