At first glance, 88 Eatery is not your average pizza bar. The pizza dough is fermented over 88 hours, pasta sauce is cooked for eight hours, and it is all overseen by a head chef who came up in the industry working in Gordon Ramsay’s renowned UK restaurants.
Plus, the pizzas are square.
88 Eatery is a new direction for the team behind Newton’s La Romana pizza bar, which has rebranded as 88 Eatery and expanded into a second store at Fulham Gardens, where Hernan Cruz is head chef. The two restaurants opened their doors this week.
Pasta dishes are made fresh, and the square-shaped pizzas have a unique selling point, particularly for the frugal, as the pizzas fill up more space in the box than a circular pizza might. The boxes are made locally from recycled materials.
“We ferment the dough for 88-hours and that helps give the pizza a nice crispy finish, but at the same time a softness inside; it’s beautiful,” says Cruz.
The restaurants are currently only offering takeaway, with a delivery charge of $6 to most suburbs. Dine-in is planned for the future.
Originally from Colombia, Cruz landed a job with Gordon Ramsay in 2008, working as a commis chef at Ramsay’s London gastropub, The Narrow. Cruz went on to work for Ramsay for four years including at The Warrington and Maze Grill, during which time he completed his university diploma.
“I was very fortunate to have an opportunity to work there,” Cruz says.
Most recently Cruz was Emirates’ executive head chef in Queensland.
“In the few trips that I had to Adelaide I got to experience the culinary level here, and I thought it could be a good opportunity to develop my career even further,” Cruz says. “And then the whole COVID happened.”
Cruz had left Emirates just before the coronavirus caused the shutdown of the airline, but it enabled him to embark on a new career direction.
“I thought [88 Eatery] was an amazing concept, I tried the product that they had to offer and helped develop the menu,” Cruz says.
“It’s very different from fine dining, but I like the fact that we get to interact with customers. It’s a very unique approach and it’s something that interests me.”
Customers who visit the store at Fulham Gardens Shopping Centre will be able to clearly see Cruz working in the kitchen, through a unique shopfront that has a large service window to the street.
It enables customers to pick up their orders without entering the shop — an example of how COVID-19 is influencing the design of new takeaway restaurants.
“We are planning to have a little area where people stand with some barrels and some heaters. We’ll also take the pizza to your car so you don’t have to get out of your car. It’s casual, with a good vibe.”
The restaurant sources produce locally, with bread from Paesano Bakery, and fresh herbs and vegetables from Tony and Mark’s.
Pricing is competitive, with pizzas starting at $13.99 for Hawaiian, Margherita, or Pepperoni, to $14.99 for BBQ Chicken, and $16.99 for Fetta & Spinach, or Vegan Dream.
Pasta is similarly priced, from $13.99 for Alla Panna and ranging to $15.99 for Creamy Pumpkin.
“Our pasta sauces are slow-cooked for eight hours. It intensifies the flavours and thickens the sauce to perfection,” Cruz says.
The cheesy garlic pizza and cheesy garlic bread are made using locally grown garlic. There are also side dishes of wedges, popcorn chicken, wings, and crumbed prawns.
Cruz says the brand will employ about 30 people across its two stores.
“We’re bringing great food to a suburban environment. You don’t have to go to the city to get a good meal, and its great value and available to everybody.”
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