Schonell Theatre, Uni Of Qld Union Rd, St Lucia
The past couple of years, the only time I've stepped into St Lucia campus was for exam revision so I don't exactly have kind associations there. Yesterday was graduation day and I took the chance to enjoy the only thing one thing I'm garunteed to miss from uni - the pizza cafe (which is spelt with double 'f' on their website).
No one is allowed to touch the food before I get my shots :D
To provide some scene setting, I'll first say that yesterday was steaming hot. I was sweating so much I had to peel myself from the seat of my car, and that's WITH the air-conditioning provided by my car. When I got outside, I had to deal with the impossibilities of trying to find my mum ("Where are you??? The library?? There are more than 5 libraries here!!! Which one are you at?? What do you mean there's grass here?? There's grass everywhere!!!").
After prancing around the grounds like a mad woman, I was convinced that all my graduation photos would be light reflective because my face was just that sweaty (eww, I know). And that was BEFORE donning the traditional gown (that I fondly think of as the closest I'll get to wearing a Hogwarts school uniform).
When it came to ordering the pizza, I was less interested in the pizza and more attracted by their tap beer. The menu contains one pizza for every letter of the alphabet. Certain flavors have stars next to their name, which indicates a surcharge. We chose 4 pizzas for the 4 of us (2 vegetarian and 2 with meat), plus one jug. My mum and grandparents also had a coffee each.
The beer was a life-saver. Even our glasses were chilled and it was all I could do not to roll it across my forehead. I practically drained the glass in one hit. Icy beer on a hot day is not to be underestimated.
Sophia Loren - pan-fried baby spinach, black olives, gorgonzola
I chose the 2 vegetarian pizzas not because there are vegetarians amongst us but because I like vegetarian pizzas and I'd never get away with ordering them with my friends. With my family, I'm allowed to choose whatever I want. The first was 'S' for Sophia Loren which contained baby spinach, black olives and gorgonzola.
I couldn't detect any obvious blue cheese flavor but did think this pizza was more flavorsome than the others even though it seemed most simple so maybe the gorgonzola contributed to that. This was actually my favorite one.
Visconti - grilled eggplant, zucchini and capsicum
The 'V' for visconti had grilled eggplant, zucchini and capsicum. I liked this one as well though the grilled veggies become a bit soggy on the base and there was nothing that had a good crunch to balance that.
De Sica - ham, pancetta, calabrese, pineapple, olives, capsicum, onion
My mum's favorite was 'D' for De Sica, which in my mind is a bit like a fancy Hawaiian cross supreme. It had the most stuff on it, with 2 types of meat, pineapple and more. Some people like that but I favor really simple pizza with not many different toppings.
Giannini - roasted chicken, baby spinach, ricotta, grilled capsicum
The last we had was 'G' for Giannini. This is one we frequently ordered whilst studying at UQ. It has chicken, spinach and ricotta. Ricotta is quite a mild (aka bland) cheese and I would have preferred something with more punch, like fetta.
Now for some overall comments about the pizza... they're good. I really like this style of pizza. I know that people will have different preferences, indeed my dad likes a thick base because it fills him up more but even he liked these pizzas when he tried them. I sent a photo of this meal to Byron, hoping to make him jealous but he said they looked 'thin and dry'. In MY opinion, speaking as someone who likes thin and crispy pizza with simple, good quality ingredients, this is the best gourmet pizza out there and amongst the cheapest too. When we compare to a similar sized pizza at say, Sugo Mi, the one at UQ pizza cafe is about 30-40% cheaper, even without a student discount. Furthermore, I wouldn't say Sugo Mi necessarily tasted BETTER.
The thing to note is that thin crust = people eat more slices. My granddad actually ate 2 slices at a time with the topping squished in the middle like a sandwich. I thought that was kinda cute!!
My other item of personal advice is that I normally find the UQ pizza too garlicky. I've had sleepless nights because the garlic 'mouth feel 'persists until the next day, even with rigorous brushing, rinsing and green tea-drinking. I got around this problem by saying 'please omit all garlic addition from all 4 pizzas'. It worked fabulously - equally tasty pizza without the discomfort.
Coffee ($2 special)
I forgot to mention the coffee. The Pizza Caffe now has a system where you get a buzzer when you order and go collect your meal when it buzzes. Ours buzzed once for the coffee and again for the pizza. Mum was a bit annoyed that the coffee came first because it's usual to have coffee after the meal but I guess they're much too busy to coordinate those things.
The UQ Pizza Caffe is predominantly a student venue. For that reason, there's not much in the way of service (you collect your own food with the buzzer) and the atmosphere leaves a lot to be desired. On the plus side, the food is relatively cheap and what you get isn't standard student-quality pizza. It's definitely on par with any gourmet pizza I've had at an expensive Italian restaurant and for that reason, the Pizza Caffe has a reputation that goes beyond the student circle.