I always get annoyed when I open my letterbox and find it stuffed with crap. Are the postmen blind? Are they taking the piss? I mean, I do have a rather prominent “No Junk” sticker plastered on it, but somehow I always end up getting it almost every day. Admittedly, according to my undeclared “grey area”, I’m actually ok with getting junk from local restaurants. This is my exception to the No Junk rule.
I got a flyer from a place I’d never heard of, one afternoon. 199 Lawrence. A simple black & white menu featuring Italian food and a wood-fire pizza oven. My end of town isn’t all that blessed when it comes to wood-fired pizza, so this was a very important piece of junk mail I kept on my desk for a couple of weeks. The birthday was coming up and with me being the non-celebratory kind of person, 199 Lawrence was the perfect contender for a quiet night with the other half.
Ten minutes walk from home, a couple of bottles of vino, and we had the entire restaurant to ourselves. Tuesday night, it was freezing outside, and all that any other people wanted from this pizza joint was takeaway. Not this pair. Eating from a plastic or cardboard box infront of the telly just doesn’t cut it for either of us. Never has.
The quiet, candle-lit corner posse of 199 Lawrence adds to its neighbourhood charm. Being tucked back from the main drag may affect business, but the peace and quiet adds to its charm. As does the homely service.
I was craving a bit of seafood so tried some of the saganaki prawns (16). The name may not be all that Italian, as I think it may refer to the iron pan the dish is cooked in. Mainly cheese related, I believe? What we have here is a small cast iron skillet loaded with prawns, swimming in humble Napoli sauce, some crumbled fetta and chopped parsley. Sliced bread comes with. It’s warming, simple and the type of rustic dish you’d get in Italy.
Of course we go for pizza as the next round. One potate (Italian sausage, potato, onion, capsicum, cheese & olive oil (18). Simple flavours, yet again, and a great base. Not a fan of the raw green capsicum, which would have been much better had it been pre-roasted.
The other pizza was the gamberi (prawns, chilli, garlic & mozzarella 18). Beautifully bubbly and slightly blackened base and simple toppings. Dessert wasn’t really on the agenda, but spontaneity took over. And I’m glad it did, as the Eastern trio (13.5) didn’t disappoint. Locally-made Booza ice creams that are a tad different from the norm. Fig jam & walnut, chocolate & cinnamon and Turkish delight. Deliciously real flavours with a “stretchy” texture thanks to being pounded with wooden sticks. Just like the stuff I remember trying in regional Turkey.
I was curious to try the regular day-time menu, so breakfast it was. The usual suspects grace the menu, along-side some Italian rolls filled with a variety of tidbits. My favourite? The bacon and egg fix (13). A ciabatta-style roll with bacon, oozing fried eggs and bbq sauce. The other half goes for 199 brekky (13) scrambled eggs with bacon and some toast that was a little too crouton-like. Not a stand-out.
Brekkie may have taken the pedestrian route for me, but I’ll be back for that pizza when I need another fix.