Restaurants

The Ghost of the Local Pizzeria

Ghost of Local PizzeriaThe last time I ate at Pizzeria Italiana*, I stared at the crumbling walls, the plastic moulded chairs, the easy to wipe tables and thanked the pizza gods that this local haunt has remained the same over time.

For over ten years, many Friday nights were spent in its surrounds,  crammed around tables, eagerly waiting to satiate hunger with delicious toppings over a perfect base.

The place didn’t take any bookings and packed a crowd of all ages. There were families of four or more, young couples with a spark in their eyes, university students after a quick meal and grandparents with their families. And there was us. Four friends who habitually met to catch up over pepperoni and pesto pizzas and talk about food, drink and travel.

We brought our own wine and beer with us, and we may have disguised a Vodka, lime and soda in a beer bottle. They didn’t charge for corkage. We placed your order on our way in past the queue of people waiting for their takeaway. We settled down on a freshly-wiped table, asked for the air-con to be adjusted, it was always too cold or too hot, then forgot all about it when the pizza arrived.

Service was flakey at the best of times, that is, when the waitresses had a good command of English. But it often came with a smile from a cute backpacker with low slung jeans, the latest hair style and big brown eyes. But we always came for the pizza. Thin and crusty, like we preferred, and the toppings didn’t skimp on ingredients or flavour. The cheese was always melting and elastic, the garlic was prominent, the pepperoni pieces closely hugging one another over a sea of tomato paste. And we didn’t have to take out a second mortgage to eat there on a regular basis.

pizza

Today I sit in the reincarnation of Pizzeria Italiana*. The walls have been given a thick lick of paint. The name is plastered in large font and bold colours in case I forget where I am. The menu is shiny and new, the décor has morphed into ugly modernity with dark colours and trendy seating and I stare at the ghost of what it used to be: a busy, vibrant, eclectic, local crowd favourite that consistently delivered good pizza at reasonable prices.

As the pizzeria wears another label with pride, the queues for the takeaway have gone. You walk in and grab an empty table. The pizzas have changed. The old favourites have vanished. The price has taken a hike. The pepperoni pizza, the benchmark against which we compare others, is served thick, overcooked in parts, slightly undercooked on one side with a scarce dotting of pepperoni rounds. Service is in your face to the point of being pushy. The new owner paces the joint then settles on an empty table.

The rise of franchise is slowly killing small business and leaving us oblivious to what we’ve lost. Quality is compromised. Service is false. The heart and soul of a place peppered with memories vanishes in the face of progress and greed.

As I tuck into my slice of Parma pizza with oversized and undercooked tomato slices, I bid a silent farewell to the old pizzeria. Thank you for the good times, the conversations, the food and the memories.

I shall not return to the new place again.

* Pizzeria Italiana is a generic name and does not refer to a specific business.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

This article is posted on Gourmantic.com - All rights reserved - Copyright © 2017.

About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.

23 Comments