Having my heart captured by lasagna at Ace Pizza, Highgate
There's a new kid in town and it has big boots to fill. Spawned from the brilliant brains of those behind the resident "cool kids" on Beaufort Street, El Publico and my personal favourite, Cantina 663, Ace Pizza has opened up on the end close to the city near Luxe Bar. Blink and you might miss it as you drive by. It might have big open windows to people watch through, but there's minimal branding and the front door is actually shut and you need to enter through a side alley. It all adds to the charm of this newby.
I've come down for a quick Monday night dinner with my best friend Vee who is actually leaving me soon for a six-month vacation overseas (cue both tears and jealousy). Neither of us have been here before but we're both a little excited after having a look at the menu online. We arrive around 6.30pm and are seated straight away even though we don't have a booking.
The decor is simple. Booths line one side, with tables for two on their rear. The lighting is low and there's a plethora of green used throughout - including a neon wall sign that screams PIZZA at you. It's grungy but in a good way, not one that violates any health codes.
The staff are pleasant though a couple are slightly awkward in their interactions with us. Or maybe we're awkward... *shrug*. Who cares, because for us, it's about the food.
The menu is surprisingly awesome here. I say surprising because while it does offer pizza, it also offers many other dishes which actually sound even better than the namesake. We stare at the options which include an incredible sounding rib chop with bone marrow, wood grilled octopus and fat pasta with rabbit and porcini. Delicious!
Fried mac & cheese
The decision is hard, but eventually we settle on sharing a few dishes. To satisfy our curiosity in how Ace Pizza's version compares to the Merrywell, we order the Fried Mac & Cheese ($7). It's the first of our dishes to come out and is two giant lamington sized cubes of fried goodness. O. M. G. Seriously.
The outside of each cube is crunchy and golden brown; a perfect crust that comes away to reveal a molten pile of oozy gooey macaroni. It's decadent and your basic heart attack in a dish. Great value for the price.
We get the Ace Pizza version of a caesar salad which is made up of Cos, Pancetta, Crispy Chicken Skin, Anchovy and Egg ($17).
It comes out and our draws drop, literally. It's a giant platter of salad but not one any person on a diet should ever order! There's a liberal scattering of grated cheese and each lettuce leaf is sauced up and covered in crunchy fried goodness. The pancetta is crisp and fatty, snapping in my mouth and letting off the most amazing salty flavour. The crispy chicken skin is absolutely incredible. And when I say incredible, I definitely mean it. I feel ridiculously guilty as I eat it, but the oily taste is pretty addictive.
The salad's dressing is creamy and mild - I like that the anchovy taste isn't too overpowering but is enough to announce it's presence. It's a great dish to share, though I'm not sure I could handle it on my own as after awhile the chicken skin definitely starts to make it's toll on me.
Our final dish for dinner comes out after the others - Dad's Lasagne, Beef Tail ($22). But is worth the wait because this is the best thing we ate here tonight by far, and worth returning for alone. Layers of thin, silky pasta with creamy bechamel sauce and the most amazing chunks of beef tail.
I believe this might be my first time (that I can remember) eating beef tail and here they really do it justice. The meat is falling apart, soft and juicy with just the right amount of fat coating each meat to keep it tender and melt in your mouth. I love the cheesy coating on top which just adds to the warm comforting nature of the dish. It's too damn good!
After the last bite of lasagne is down the hatch, we both are completely full but so happy with the food we've eaten. While dessert does sound appealing (in particular the tiramisu donut and the sundae), we're way too full to even consider it.
But I don't mind, that just means I'll be back. Soon hopefully, so I can try some of the other dishes on the menu - including the menu seeing as that's what their name suggests that they should be doing good. Hopefully it will live up to the quality of the food we had tonight!