I Carusi contains tables packed elbow to elbow and serves wine in small tumblers – a bona fide sign that we were seated in a genuine Italian restaurant. This amalgam creates an atmosphere that conjures up memories of sitting in an Italian Nonna’s house, anticipating delicious pizza.
Whilst it is located in East Brunswick, just a short tram ride down Lygon St, it offers far superior pizza than the bastardized ham-scattered approach that leagues of restaurants in Australia have decided to pass off as pizza. In fact, I Carusi often scores high whenever a ‘Best Pizza’ in Melbourne list is assembled – and so it should.
I couldn’t go past the Alla Moda Di Mario Pizza, topped with tomato, fior di latte, pancetta and red onion. The wood-fired crust was flame-licked to perfection and fior di latte glistened amongst the thinly sliced pancetta and red onions. The subtle hits of chilli scattered among the homemade tomato base added delightful potency to each bite.
The “Number 26” pizza was hard to pass up; lovingly scattered with sauteed leeks, touches of heady gorgonzola and rich dollops of oozy mozzarella. The cepaceous coins of tender leek were complimented well by the sharpness of the stinky cheese and the comforting creaminess of the fior de latte on the crisp pizza base makes this one pretty hard to ignore. It’s also refreshing to see leeks featuring prominently in a Melbourne dish, as it’s an often unsung and under appreciated hero – especially in the colder months when its character really shines.
I Carusi is all about their ingredients. It is not fussy or fancy – just how authentic Italian pizza was intended. The service is outstandingly friendly and our waitress seemed just as enthusiastic about our pizza choices as we were, admitting that the Alla Moda Di Mario is her go-to. After eyeing off an adjacent tables white chocolate and peach dessert pizza, my only regret is not having enough room to fit dessert in. There’s always next time, and there will be a next time.