167 - 171 Parnell Road,
(09) 309 0807
The ViewAuckland Review
What defines a good pizza? La Porchetta was in for some scrutiny when I chose my companion for this review.
My friend is the worst kind of pizza snob: she’s from New York.
We were both familiar with La Porchetta’s offering. Her opinion was that this Australian-based chain doesn’t kneed its dough enough, uses ovens that don’t provide the necessary blast of heat, and uses cheap and nasty mozzarella. I was less harsh.
La Porchetta’s strength is its prices. The least expensive small-size pizza, which will satisfy one person, costs $5.50, the most expensive large one, a good light meal for six, goes for $14.90. At these prices you’re not going to get perfection.
However, I’ve always found their bases to be crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, just salty enough, and their toppings tasty.
My companion and I called a truce after she paraphrased Douglas Adams: ‘It’s mostly harmless.’
We lunched at the Parnell outlet, where ceiling fans kept the diner-style restaurant cool while the world bustled by in the hot summer sun. We branched out and tried some of their other menu items. We bypassed the meat, chicken, fish and risotto mains and I went for pasta.
I chose tortellini with mushrooms ($8.90 for a small size). The pasta was adequately cooked and covered in a sauce of cream, stringy melted cheese, large pieces of button mushrooms and a balanced flavour of herbs and white wine. Douglas Adams would have approved.
Our green salad ($5.50) and my tortellini arrived quickly—probably because the pasta was officially an ‘entrée’—while we had to wait a while for my companion’s focaccia ‘ripiena’.
That turned out to be a pizza with an extra layer of dough on top ($10.90 for a small size). The billed sun-dried tomatoes played a supporting role to courgette, eggplant, red capsicum and preserved artichokes, moistened with a bit of cheese.
My companion was disappointed when she found the nub-end of a courgette—a sign of sloppiness in the kitchen—as well as the greasy layer of generic vegetable oil on the top crust.
The flavour of both our mains perked up considerably when we added grated parmesan cheese.
The psychedelically-coloured menu of desserts impressed us so much for its tackiness, I tried one. The artificially-flavoured chocolate and mint ice cream ($5.90) was so old it had crystallized.
Best avoided, as were the poorly-made coffees, in favour of the cakes on the blackboard, which hopefully would be a bit fresher.
In future, I’ll stick to what La Porchetta does best: pizza with the plainest of toppings (ham or Italian sausage) and their pizza-friendly selection of beers.
La Porchetta has been reviewed by 10 users