Being of Italian heritage, and more specifically with parents from Napoli (Naples) – where arguably pizza was born and the best pizza still lives, I had high expectations when visiting Etica. I ensured my Italian bias and nostalgic memories of eating delicious napoletana pizzas were put aside so I could experience Etica in its own right. The great thing is that this place easily holds its own and impresses even those with no preconceived ideas of what the original flavours of pizza and buffalo (or bufala) mozzarella should be.
The name already appealed to me before my first visit – translates to ‘ethical’...here is an extract from their website to explain further, “our priority in searching for ingredients, particularly animal products, is the ethical treatment of the animals concerned. We have sourced what we regard as the most ethically available food in Australia.” This includes fighting against factory farming and raising awareness of ethical and sustainable practices. Some may say these are just cliché buzz words at the moment, but I for one am more than happy to jump on the bandwagon and make more conscious decisions about the restaurants I support. First tick before stepping in the door.
Tucked away in Gilles St in Adelaide’s CBD, the refurbished townhouse oozes charm and originality. They don’t take bookings, but this suits the homely nature and experience of visiting Etica. I have been twice on a Thursday night and twice on a Friday night and was able to get a seat each time. I suggest going in smaller groups of 2 to 3 to help your chances of getting a table. We sat at the kitchen bar once when tables were filled, and this actually enhanced our experience.
Ok, now to the most important part, the food! I must confess, in my four visits I have not been able to go past the ‘Margherita Extra’ pizza with San Marzano tomato DOP (protected designation of origin), bufala mozzarella, olive oil and sea salt. This has to be one the selections each time I go, once you’re on to something great why change? To enable us to still get a taste of the other pizzas, we selected an additional pizza to go with the Margherita Extra on each visit. Previously this has been the ‘Zbigniew’ (mix of toppings including salami and olives, which is no longer part of the current seasonal menu) and the ‘Funghi’ (mushroom) pizza. Tonight the ‘Bianca’ pizza (meaning white base with mozzarella and no tomato sauce) and a special from the seasonal menu which was also a white base with rainbow chard (silverbeet) and salami. We also chose something off the appetiser menu, the arrancini balls.
The pizzas were served approx 10 to 15 minutes after ordering (depending how busy they are). A quick turnaround on each visit. This was enough time to start sipping on a glass of organic red wine (or organic creaming soda on this occasion) and taking in the beautiful aromas. I couldn't help but be taken back to my childhood with the scent of tomato and basil, picturing my family making Italian sauce in the early hours of the morning.
Also, in the short waiting time, I found out a little bit about the ‘pizzaiola’ (pizza maker) who comes from Napoli, so the bias and high expectations that I referred to above were starting to creep back in.
Pizza number 1 arrived, the Margherita xtra. My mouth instantly watered with the smell and the look of the thin base, crunchy crust, basil, tomato, olive oil and bufala mozzarella. When my friend and I took our first bite we were both silent – we loved it and couldn't wait to cut ourselves another slice. The taste of this pizza alone, spoken of as ‘the closest thing in Adelaide to the real Napoletana Pizza’, is something worth coming back for. Be warned, this style of pizza may not suit everyone’s taste. My partner for one prefers pizzas with a variety of toppings and a more extensive menu than what Etica currently offer. But these factors to me are what add appeal, and hold true to the original culture and simplicity of flavours.
Pizzas 2 and 3 arrived– the ‘bianca’ varieties. These were equally as tasty on first bite, however to me their downfall compared to the Margherita pizzas is that after one or two slices the full mozzarella base becomes very rich and can be even a tad sickly if you are having the whole pizza to yourself. I suggest these pizzas are best shared with other tomato base varieties to break up the flavour. One minor downfall to note when sharing in larger groups is that the pizzas are not served sliced, so where sharing is the preference slicing them yourself can get a bit messy.
The arrancini balls were also very tasty. They had the burst of melted cheese in the centre which some other arrancini balls lack. This proved to be a nice complement to the pizza.
I must admit the pizzas are charged at a premium price compared to what you can get elsewhere (i.e approx $25-$28 each), and this may detract potential consumers. I again however am happy to direct my money toward high quality products and service than pay for a cheaper, lower quality alternative. This really comes down to the individual opinion.
On the topic of service, I have not experienced service like this in a while. People warned me about the service prior to my first visit, however the young lady who has now looked after me four times was brilliant and a breath of fresh air. As a result of my continued support for the restaurant this particular staff member offered a glass of wine as well as arrancini balls (on two separate visits) free of charge. This was not in response to anything they did wrong, but was purely to reward loyalty, which is rare. In addition, she was always willing to explain parts of the menu and served with a genuine smile on her face. Perhaps this elevated level of service has come in response to past reviews and feedback given to the owners. I am not sure, but I can say that through my four experiences there I have walked away wanting to return.
Ambience: 4/5Service: 4.5/5
Overall MDNoms gives Etica a total of 17 / 20 chops on The Chopping Board.
Etica: Ethical Pizzeria e Mozzerella
125 Gilles St, Adelaide
Etica: Ethical Pizzeria e Mozzerella
125 Gilles St, Adelaide