Mancini’s Woodfired Pizzas

I’ve added Mancini’s Woodfired Pizzas to my Places To Eat guide (and also updated a few of the other entries). I suppose you’d call it a gourmet pizza place because they don’t make the standard Domino’s style pizza. It’s not a fancy restaurant though. It’s just a nice casual place to eat (like Interfoods in Fremantle used to be).

The menu consists of Antipasti (including Prosciutto and Rockmelon), Pizzas (including Calzones), a few other mains (pasta and chicken), salads, and desserts (more pizzas!). The variety of pizza is good and ranges from Salmon (with rocket and served with sour cream) to Calzone Oriental (with shitaki mushrooms and chilli). You’d usually expect to pay quite a bit for these gourmet pizzas, but the prices are very reasonable.

Large pizzas are between $11.00 and $16.00, and small pizzas are $6.50 to $9.00. Like most pizza places, they have a special consisting of a large pizza, garlic bread, and 1.25 litre soft drink (for $17.95). With a salad, I’ve found this to be enough for two people. However, they also have a combo that adds a garlic bread and can of soft drink to any small pizza. This is more than enough for an individual and means that you can get a great meal for under $10.00.

The pizzas are billed as “light healthy tasty” and from my experience that holds true. The chef used to work at NYC Pizza in the QV1 building, and people may be familiar with their “non greasy” pizzas. Mancini’s pizzas are similarly non-greasy (like most woodfired pizzas I guess).

Conclusion: Highly Recommended.

Keep reading for the (sappy) story about how I found out about Mancini’s.

Shortly after Heidi and I first met (years ago now), we had tea and cake at Dome in Applecross and then went for a stroll by the river. We kept walking for a long time because we were both too nervous to “make a move” (well, I know that I was anyway). After a while, we realised that we didn’t know where we were; We’d become lost as a result of meandering about without concern for where we were going.

As we tried to get back to a major road, we passed through a number of small enclaves of shops and boutique restaurants. They probably look rather normal in daylight or to people who know them, but we weren’t familiar with them and they looked very surreal. Overhead street lamps were few and far between, and they lit up the buildings in sections making it appear as if movie sets had been nonchalantly dropped into the street.

After a few hours of walking (and walking) through the suburbs, we emerged on Canning Highway, right near the freeway entrance. It was quite an abrupt change in environment. Suddenly we were surrounded by lights and the constant noise of passing cars. This made the whole prior experience feel that much more like a dream. We knew that we had quite a way to walk back to the car, so we tried to find somewhere to eat.

It was very late at night and the only place open was this small pizza restaurant right on Canning Highway. Walking through the door was like going through a time-warp back into the 80’s. The decor and menus reminded me of the deli I used to get lolly-bags from when I was a kid. There were a couple of old arcade machines against one wall and a pinball machine on the other side. We sat down, relaxed our legs, ate, talked, and almost forgot about our recent walkabout.

Since that night, that restaurant has stuck in our minds as this oddly dreamlike place. When we drove past it a few week after our walk, we almost expected to find an abandoned lot with an old guy in a rocking chair out the front saying “Pizza place? Gosh, there aint been no pizza place here for near fifteen years now.” But it was there, and we never went back. Maybe because we didn’t want our happy memories brought down to earth.

A few weeks ago we noticed that the place has been given a bit of an overhaul (this could have happened anytime in the last few years; we’re not down that way often) and decided to go there for dinner. It turned out to be an excellent decision. The pizza is outstanding, the place still has a unique feel, and the nostalgia we associate with it hasn’t been destroyed.

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