A plump red tomato on a simple sign is all that distinguishes North Adelaide’s new pizza bar – Tony Tomatoes.
Situated in an often-changing spot at the northern end of O’Connell Street, Tony Tomatoes does pretty much one thing only: pizza.
A simple rectangular design, the dining room is fitted out nicely with bright red carpet contrasting with wood settings. There isn’t much free space; the tables are set basically and are fairly close together. More intimate settings surround an island bar which breaks the room in two.
Chefs knead and twirl pizza dough at a rapid rate in the kitchen located along the back wall.
Opened by the same experienced group behind the fantastic Ruby Red Flamingo, Tony Tomatoes is already rapidly filling when we visit on a mid-week night, with a line forming shortly after 7pm. This is an unusual phenomenon for Adelaide but something both Ruby Red Flamingo and this new venture manage to create.
The wine list doesn’t have much variety but it is well targeted and very reasonably priced. An enticing selection of beers is available.
There is a certain attitude to the small paper menu, which also offers takeaway – pizzas feature playful names like Jenny Craig, Miss Piggy, Meat Me or, ahem, Eat My Breast.
The colourfully named large selection of pizzas is complemented by a small collection of starters. Traditional pork and veal or turkey polpette, arancini, salads and meat skewers are among the choices.
Tony Tomatoes does pizza four ways – thick, crispy, traditional or gluten-free (the latter with the promise of a separate oven and no cross-contamination).
Pizzas are wholesome (for pizza) and flavoursome. The different bases offer some choice, and the combination of toppings on offer can force you out of your comfort zone for a pleasant surprise.
Service is polite and performed at a good standard, although the staff are casually dressed, making it a little difficult to distinguish them among the diners.
They seem to enjoy their work and offer easy advice on what is best – they’re also willing to warn customers of the temptation of ordering too much. No doubt the delicious aromas from the kitchen are to blame for eyes being bigger than stomachs.
After a serving of the pillow-soft pork and veal meatballs, we order three pizzas: the Salame, Fun Guy and the Jenny Craig. They come out at staggered intervals, served in the middle of the table on a three-tiered cake-stand-style contraption that saves space.
The Fun Guy on a “thick Tony special” base is the pick of the bunch. Its fat yet slightly crispy base overflows with a variety of mushrooms, asiago cheese oozing throughout, and a generous heap of pear, rocket and walnut topping it off – a pizza with salad.
The Salame is more traditional: a slightly singed base smothered in tomato sauce hidden by a generous serving of cacciatore salami, olives, mozzarella and a slight kick of chilli.
The cheekily named “Jenny Craig” is a decadent selection of four cheeses – a guilty pleasure of salty, runny goodness. Despite the cheesy load, the gorgonzola shines through.
While the pizzas are priced from about $17 to $27, most people would struggle to get through a whole serving.
Dessert is as simple as it comes – affogato, strawberry tiramisu or a chocolate mousse. Each is designed to be served straight from the fridge. The tiramisu is surprisingly good – a sweet end to the night.
It is food for sharing and food to design a good night around.
Tony Tomatoes is much like a good pizza – unsophisticated but very rewarding.
Four out of five.
155-157 O’Connell St, North Adelaide
(08) 8239 0080
Lunch: Friday and Sunday, 12-12.30pm
Dinner: Wednesday to Sunday, from 5.30pm
Frank Grenfell’s restaurant reviews can be found every second Friday, alternating with our city lunch review which starts next week.
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