It seems that many restaurants and cafés around Canberra are all serving ‘handmade wood-fired’ pizzas, but lack that authenticity that we all want to taste and feel at first bite. A pizza fiend myself, it’s safe to say I’ve had my fair share of the traditional Italian slice, but none that have really blown me away – that was until I dined at Locale Pizzeria in Deakin.
Maybe it’s because the venue wasn’t overtly boasting about the fact that their speciality is handmade wood-fired pizzas, which lets its guests discover that for themselves. Upon entry, the sound of the crackling fire from Locale’s large wood-fired oven makes your ears prick up, while simultaneously picking up on the almighty scent of its warm aroma. Lovingly made pizza dough with morsels of toppings go in and a crispy perfectly cooked pizza comes out, then served straight to your table still bubbling from the heat.
The Locale chefs and pizzaiolo are passionate about eating, relaxing, celebrating and socialising, and have created a smart yet simple menu that’s designed to share, creating a dining experience that’s an extension of an Italian family dinner table. So rather than a staggered traditional dinner service, we enjoyed all our dishes at Locale at once – my kind of feast!
First up was the Diavolo Rosso pizza, with fior di latte, hot salami, roasted vine pepper and olives. The mozzarella melted into one with the pizza while the wilted soft peppers and salami, which oozed delicious oils, rounded off each bite on the palate. With the perfect ratio of toppings to pizza base and a combination of fresh ingredients that proved a flawless marriage, this pizza is a stand out on the menu and testament to the philosophy of Locale – letting the food speak for itself.
Among the starters we were served the Olive Marinate, comprised of marinated mixed Italian olives and wood-fired focaccia; Polenta Fritta, truffled polenta chips and gorgonzola fondue; Black Cozze, black muscles, Napoli sugo, white wine and chilli; and Tagliere Di Salumi, which featured a selection of Italian cured meats and wood-fired focaccia.
All adding a perfect balance of flavour and accompaniment to the larger dishes, highlights included the black muscles which bathed in a delectable tomato chilli broth; and the cured meats platter, which I would have been happy to devour on my own.
At Locale you can rest assured that it’s got the old favourites covered with its Pappardelle Alla Bolognese, served with ribbon egg pasta, slow braised veal and pork bolognese. This more-ish dish is a satisfying feed that is both hearty and tasty at the same time. It’s everything you’d come to expect from a classic pappardelle bolognese but with a contemporary Locale twist that’s evident across the entire menu.
Another popular dish is the Spaghetti Alle Vongole, with white wine, garlic, vongole, chilli, parsley. This traditional Italian dish boasts perfectly cooked clams that are delicately tossed through a light spaghetti, showcasing subtle flavours that all miraculously combine to pack a big flavoursome punch.
For those looking for something a little lighter, try the Caprese Di Bufala salad, with heirloom tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. This simple yet refined dish is classic Italy in a nutshell and featured minimal preparation, letting the ingredients’ natural flavour be the star of the dish. The tomatoes are sliced into halves, basil plucked fresh from the stem, mozzarella effortlessly torn and all coated with an even layer of the purest extra virgin olive oil to have ever graced your taste buds.
Also featuring a beautiful marble top bar, Locale offers an extensive wine, beer, spirits and cocktail menu. On our visit we tried the Aperol Sour with salted caramel vodka, which was an option on the specials menu that we couldn’t pass up. Salted caramel vodka, need we say more? An alcoholic beverage and dessert in one – yes please! This Instagram-worthy drink has a delightful contrast of strength and sweetness that’s perfect for those hot summer nights dining in Locale’s undercover outdoor area surrounded by climbing jasmine and a pleasant outlook of Deakin’s bustling strip.
The dedicated team at Locale have worked tirelessly to bring Canberrans its original, locally sourced and traditional Italian dishes. Come in and enjoy some old favourites in good company, or takeaway spread to share at home with your friends and family. Whatever the occasion, make Locale your destination – it won’t disappoint!