Ladro was one of the restaurants at the forefront of the designer pizza craze that swept through Melbourne about 5 years ago. It’s still going strong despite the departure of one of the original owners/chefs Rita Macali (who’s sprouted another pizza joint called Supermaxi in North Fitzroy), expanding to a new outpost in Prahran recently.

I literally haven’t been to Ladro since it was the hottest place around town and nigh on impossible to get a table in the tightly-packed brushed concrete room. Fortunately the crowds have eased a little (although definitely still bustling) and they’ve branched out into cosy back courtyard seating.

Our party of 6 met up for dinner on Sunday night with a 730 booking and we couldn’t actually sit down until 730pm as the table needed to be turned. Testament to the restaurant’s continuing popularity.

Naturally you go to a pizza joint to eat pizza. Unfortunately I’d completely forgotten that J was gluten intolerant and thus he was relegated to eating a good but not-very-exciting rib eye ($34) while the rest of us dug into the starring items. J was surprised that they didn’t offer a gluten-free pizza base, and based on his experience do not go to Ladro if you can’t eat wheat pizza bases. Sorry J! Ladro now offer gluten-free bases!

As for the rest of us, we chose a pizza each – the famous Babading with provolone, pork sausage, oregano, fresh chilli, basil ($20.50), Boscaiola with fior di latte, porcini, field mushrooms and thyme ($21.50), classic salami with tomato, mozzarella and basil and requested extra topping of olives ($20) and sardine pizza (sorry no price). Everyone had slightly different food likes/dislikes so we decided not to share, and for me this was a tactical error.

The wood-fired pizzas are very large and while I enjoyed the thin, chewy, bubbly and misshapen crusts and my salty sardine hits, it was super boring to eat a 20cm round of the same thing –I found myself just feeding pizza into my mouth mindlessly towards the end.  My parents have always intoned the very sensible Chinese proverb to me – the more you eat, the less flavour; the less you eat, the more flavour – and it was certainly true in this case as my taste buds went to sleep after about the third slice.

I know lots of people are very protective about their own serves of food and being Asian could explain my aversion to non-sharing, but I think everyone should learn to share pizza too, if only for portion control!

Anyway, the second tactical error was possibly having dessert. Lordy we were way too full after individual pizzas to be eating more, but those Bombolini with vanilla ice cream and blood orange syrup ($11) just sounded so darn appetising. And they were. Fried doughnuts dusted with sugar, filled with chocolate custard and paired with icecream slicked with blood orange syrup. Delicious! And only a little sickening after I hoisted myself up from my chair.

Service was a bit slow as the restaurant was busy and the staff looked a bit overrun, but we didn’t mind too much as we continued our conversations.

I’m not willing to call myself an aficionado of pizza so I can’t really say whether Ladro produces the best in Melbourne. I do think that their upmarket pizzas are still as good as I remembered and it’s so close to my house that it’s definitely worth returning. Next time though I’m entering with a better strategy – definitely not one single pizza per person and saving enough room comfortably for those delicious bombolini again.

  • Ladro, 224 Gertrude St, Fitzroy +61 3 9415 7575

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