Sometimes the best nights come unplanned and unexpected. With a full on work week, Marc and I weren't planning on any social events on our school nights. I suggested heading out for a cheap and plain dinner at Jackpot but in the last moment, heard about this new pizza shop in West End and redirected ourselves there instead.
Julius Pizzeria is by the same guys behind Beccofino in Tennerife, which has the reputation of being one of Brisbane's best pizza joints. I had dinner at Beccofino once back in 2009 and loved it but haven't been back because it's just a bit too out of the way. We tried once and it was too busy so we went next door instead. The best point of difference with Julius Pizzeria for me is that it's in my neighbourhood.
The restaurant is located close the the Cultural Centre, on the corner of Grey Street and Fish lane. There's not much else going on in that area, especially at night, so it's hard to miss. We were a bit discouraged but a number of people standing outside the front door, figuring that without a booking we weren't going to get a table.
It turns out that Julius Pizzeria doesn't even take bookings. They are however, very proficient at turning tables over. We were asked to have a quick wait at the bar; our drinks were barely brought out before our table was ready. Marc ordered Asahi on tap and I asked him to get me a glass of red. Marc asked the barman for a 'house red' but because this place is classier than our usual pub venues, they don't actually have a house red. The barman gave us a recommendation based on what dishes we were planning to order. I'm a total wine novice so I have no idea what I was drinking that night but it was actually very good!
We had a look through the menu while we were waiting at the bar so by the time we were seated, we were ready to order. Marc and I chose a pizza and pasta dish to share.
Parmigiana pizza - with tomato, mozzarella, ham, roasted eggplant, grated parmesan and basil
The pizza was served on a pedestal, which makes sense because if it was placed directly on the table, there'd be no room for other plates. It's quite a sizeable pizza and made on an authentic Italian base. The toppings were delicious but strangely enough, Marc and I both agreed that 'something' was missing. Marc thought it was more meat (he wanted the pepperoni one so perhaps it was a craving unfulfilled). I thought all it was lacking was salt.
Pappardelle - with duck ragu
I liked that our pasta was split evenly across two small plates. I have a reputation amongst my family for eating way too fast. The reason for this is... because I'm greedy. If I'm sharing food with someone (which is often the case), and the food is tasty (which is often the case), I'll eat at super speed so that I can get more of it. When the food is pre-separated for us, there's no such desperation. I got to enjoy the pappardelle at my own pace.
I loved this pasta dish. Pappardelle is my favourite style of pasta, being rustic and thick and great for picking up the sauce. It helps when the sauce is as delicious as it was here. It was generously filled with slow cooked duck meat and had a savoury, creamy flavour. This would be a perfect dish to scoff on through winter.
Gingerbread Pudding - with caramel ice-cream
Marc really didn't want to get dessert but I read 'gingerbread pudding' on the menu and decided I needed it in my life. I'm so glad we did order it because it's one of the nicest desserts I've had in a long time.
It's not weird, intricate or fancy but rather something familiar, homely and comforting with a twist. The pudding component was soft, warm and mildly spiced with ginger. It went perfectly with the cool, creamy ice-cream.
I am thrilled that something like this has opened up in West End. It's probably dangerous for my waistline that I have authentic Italian pizza so easily within my reach. The serving sizes are good and prices very reasonable. The place was busy even on a Tuesday night but service managed to keep up.