It is hard for me to contain my level of nachas (Yiddish for joy/pride) when I can inform the good people of the globe about a true hidden gem. Portone Wood Fired Pizza is not only hidden in terms of its obscure location but also from well deserved media attention and exposure. For me, Sam, major shareholder and CEO of The Chommery, I say it openly and honestly that these are my favourite places to write about – hands down.
Portone is hidden away in a small walkway separating cosmopolitan Carlisle Street and the Coles parking lot in Balaclava. I will testify that you can be a regular down this neck of the woods for years and yet never see, taste or smell the goodness pouring out of this little venue. This place is as relaxed as they come, with a minute dining space located within the arcade and a simple menu advocating a handful of entrees and a range of pizzas. Take my word for it – very informal.
I beg you to look past the laminated menu and just take Portone for what it is - old school, friendly and delicious. We began by indulging in an entree of field mushrooms served with butter, lemon, garlic and mozzarella ($9.00). We shared this between three gentlemen and it provided 1-2 juicy, warm ‘shrooms each. Scrumptious and a perfect way to tease the appetite. In hindsight, due to the large sizes of the pizzas, we probably didn’t need a starter but if you ask me, ‘would I do it again’? The answer would be confident, ‘definitely’.
Pizza 1 was the Putanesca – Napoli sauce, fior de latte, olives, anchovies, capers, cherry tomatoes and parsley. A simple combination of toppings that we all know and love. Might I add, I am an admirer of the standard of thickness of the base, crunchy but still doughy.
Ordering and paying becomes so much easier with the set price of $16.50 for a medium (13″) and $19.50 for a large (19″). Let me be the first to tell you, the large is really large (suitable for more than one). Not like the new-wave miniature pizza crave taking Melbourne by storm.
Moving onto the Porcini – Porcini and napoli sauce, fior di latte, confit garlic, roasted field mushrooms and thyme ($19.50). True pizza deliciousness. Another basic but effective combination of mouth watering cheese and buttery mushrooms. Definitely get one of these and smack it in the middle and share that up. Chommery approved.
Finally, the Gamberi – Napoli sauce, mozarella, chilli prawns, cherry tomatoes and sauteed spinach. No need to go on. This too was extremely chommable. Just a warning, this pizza was hotter than we thought but great for people that like to spice things up.
Three pizzas and all of them winners.
I will leave you folks today with the particularly mesmerising view of a couple of fresh pizzas getting all fired up in the oven. I have said this once and I will say it again – I have to get me one of them for home.
Portone is open 6 nights a week from 5:30pm – 10:00pm (excluding Mondays), but that information is only helpful if you can find this hidden treasure :)
The Important Details…
Suitable for: Pizza lovers only
Price: $20 per head
My View: A hidden gem!
Address: Shop 3 Arcade, 244 – 254 Carlisle Street, Balaclava
Phone: (03) 9939 1739