Sugo mi Bistro Pizzeria
Surely you would have noticed to some degree that I censor out the names of nearly everyone I eat/cook with. I'm not certain of the reason behind this although other food bloggers do the same and I presume it is to avoid legal complications. Some get around this by fabricating nicknames for their dining buddies. I've considered this but my creativity is somewhat limited so I've resorted to labeling everyone as 'my friend'. Occasionally, where there is more than one 'friend' involved, I might go so far as to specifying with an adjective (e.g. 'uni friend).
Regular readers of this blog might now be under the false impression that I have many of these said friends but let me assure you that 95% of the time, it's the same couple of people.
Recently, I had the pleasure of being taken to a restaurant by people who not only allowed me to publish real names but in fact insisted that I do so (exact words were 'it is mandatory').
Horray! It's like a huge weight lifted? Well, nothing like that extreme but I'm spared the task of differentiating them as 'male friend 1, female friend, male friend 2' etc.
So, back to the story.
I was on lunch break with 2 chaps from my clinic group, Natasha and Justin. We brushed on the topic of food and the conversation got directed to a place called Sugo mi in Bulimba that won 'Best Pizza Restaurant in QLD, 2009' as awarded by the Restaurant and Catering Group, Queensland. I can't stand eating 'normal', fast food pizza (exempting when I'm severely hung over) but gourmet pizzas definitely tickle my fancy. After mutual interest was registered, we set a day and the wheels were in motion.
We drove to Sugo mi right after clinic i.e. outbound towards Brisbane East. I was amused along the way as to how some roads manage to be congested in both directions. Nevertheless, the trip didn't seem that long.
Sugo mi is located on jazzy Oxford Street which is one of those boutique areas scattered around Brisbane. If you like the idea of independent cafes, clothing stores and even a cinema clustered together in one on-trend location, this is one of 'those' places. Easily comparable to say, West End, Southbank or New Farm but in my mind, most like a stretched out version of Rosalie.
The restaurant is open-plan with indoor and outdoor seating options. We arrived at 'Pizza Hour' which is like happy hour with pizza (surely does not take a genius to work that out).
Between 5 of us, 3 pizzas and a bowl of chips were ordered.
Justin's favorite pizza is the ravello, an unusual mix of ham, honey and hazelnuts. Because we were visiting purely on a recommendation, Byron and I followed along and ordered the same thing. It was definitely unlike any combination of ingredients I've had on pizza before. In hindsight, the flavors are quite intuitive because ham is frequently paired with sweet food e.g. honey, apricot, apple... I loved the crunch of the hazelnuts as a textural variation to the rest of the pizza. On a different note, the honey was described as 'truffled' but I couldn't detect any truffle in there.
Natasha's usual pick is palermo which is a bit like the meat-lovers option on the menu. On this occasion, she opted for something new which was the gamberoni i.e. garlic prawn pizza with fresh chili. I had a taste of this and decided that its sauce was the standout feature for me, out of everything I tried at Sugo mi. It was described as 'sugo' which WikiAnswers translates to 'sauce' but I think in context means Italian pasta sauce. Given the name 'Sugo mi', I'm inclined to believe that their sauce is their winning product and after tasting it, I wholeheartedly agree. Sure, it's a tomato-based sauce like most pizzas have but the flavor succeeded in its balance of sweetness, tanginess and a subtle blend of herbs.
We had mixed opinions about the pizza base. I think it's one of those personal things like 'what type of brownie do you like' where there's no real right/wrong. Some like crunchy, some like soft. The base at Sugo mi tastes fresh and homemade. It's soft and doughy with a slight crunchiness to the crust. I liked it but prefer a bit thinner and even crispier. Byron, on the other hand, was a fan of the doughiness because it meant he could roll up the pizza into a cigar and eat with one hand.
I was really enjoying the bowl of chips until Byron pointed out that it was basically like a fresh batch of McDonald's fries with what he calls a 'burger sauce'. This dipping sauce is described as 'roast garlic aioli' on the menu but tasted different to most other aioli that I've tried. For one thing, it was as chunky as a tartare sauce and much sweeter that I'm familiar with. Perhaps because the garlic is roasted? Nevertheless, I liked the sauce and ended up shoveling handfuls of fries into it and munching in a very unladylike fashion.
After our meal, we had a brief discussion about whether or not Sugo mi is deserving of its Best Pizza award. Dan replied 'no' straightaway. I'm inclined to agree simply because the best of anything raises my expectations through the roof. I mean, unless something is absolutely mind blowing, and it's only merely 'excellent', if you try it and think 'this is the BEST in all of Queensland??', some disappointment is going to ensue. Off the top of our heads we thought of at least one other pizza restaurant of comparable standards: UQ Pizza Cafe.
The summary is that Sugo mi makes consistently good pizza but perhaps not to the extent of justifying the price. I pointed this out to Justin who then asked me 'what price would you expect to pay for gourmet pizza'. This caught me off guard... and I still don't know except that I came away thinking 'this was expensive'. Maybe if it blew my socks off, I would be too delighted to think that? Don't get me wrong, Sugo mi pizza was very good but I'm allowed to be extra-critical because of it's claims.