I Carusi (46a Holmes St, Brunswick East Ph: 9386 5522) is the Grandfather of Melbourne’s authentic pizzeria craze, the place where real Italian thin-crust pizza was introduced to Melburnians and the blueprint for all the newest trendy pizzerias scattered across the city.
From the outside, I Carusi doesn’t look much but inside is where the magic happens and your mouth waters. The intimate lighting, white washed walls, art deco Italian advertising posters, garlic and chilli hanging on the walls are all subtle additions to what goes on in the kitchen.
Being a somewhat regular, it is still difficult to know what to order. From the small antipasti list of fried olives or prosciutto and sopresa (all of which come with a small pizza-like bread) to the simple salads such as fiore di latte, tomato and basil or rocket and parmesan to the long pizza list, there is so much to choose from and you want it all.
The 24 pizze, either 10” or 13”, are simply mouthwatering. From the simple Margarita to the authentic Quattro Formaggi to the creative Pizza For A Friend, every pizza is delicious and simple with only a few ingredients. The Alla Moda di Guiseppe is a potato pizza with a white base (no tomato sauce) with fiore di latte, caramelized onions and rosemary, while Pizza For A Friend has thin pumpkin slice, rocket and pine nuts. The Romana has cherry tomatoes on a white base with fiore di latte, pancetta and rocket.
Both meat lovers and vegetarians are well catered for with options to entice all types. And it’s easy to see why it’s become one of Melbourne’s favourite pizzerias. Even on a Thursday night in quiet Brunswick East, I Carusi is hub of activity with cute wait staff waltzing around the restaurant with hot pizze and people walking in every few minutes.
Due to its popularity, I Carusi has two sittings – 6pm and 8pm. And its imperative that you book as tables fill quickly and only by sheer luck will you get a table on a quiet weeknight just by turning up.
Although you may be tempted to order the larger 13” (and for some, like myself, polishing off a large I Carusi pizza is easy) but it’s wise to leave space for one of the delicious Dolce pizze. The Calzonicino filled with dark, milk and white chocolate is deliciously evil so much so the small scoop of raspberry gelato on the side is necessary to balance out the richness of the chocolate that oozes out. Other dessert pizze include banana and honey, strawberry and dark chocolate and peach and white chocolate. All of which have received rave reviews.
One thing is certain, leaving I Carusi on an empty stomach is never an option. The only problem is just settling for one pizza rather than ordering them all.
I Carusi has a sister restaurant in St Kilda (231 Barkly Street, St Kilda, Ph: 9593 6033).
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