Dish explores the pizzerias of Hawke’s Bay and finds there are a number of stand-outs worth shouting about.
TOP DOG: Alessandro’s
The pizzas at Alessandro’s rival the very best in the country – they are a thing of beauty. Soft, chewy, slightly blackened bases handcrafted from a sourdough starter. A richly flavoured marinara sauce. Fabulous European cheeses, housemade sausage, imported smallgoods and local produce. And then these handstretched doughs, laden with goodies, are shovelled into a woodfired oven for a few seconds of thermonuclear heat – and delivered steaming to the table.
Although every item on the menu is superb and seemingly effortless, it’s the Prosciutto Crudo e Funghi pizza that tops the list. A combo of cured meat and smoked provelone cheese, it’s particularly delicious when paired with a Peroni (served on tap) and a smattering of Alessandro’s hot chilli oil (worth the additional couple of dollars charged – it goes well on ALL the pizzas!). The Siciliana is also a slam dunk – grilled eggplant, large green olives, and lots of garlic and basil.
Great to takeaway and eat straight from the box, Alessandro’s has indoor and outdoor space to seat around 25 comfortably. A Hawke’s Bay must-do, and a local legend.
FAMILY FAVOURITE: Pipi
You can’t miss it – the building is painted bright pink, retro chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and outside, there are stacks of woolly checked blankets to snuggle under if you catch a chill. Pipi is a firm Havelock North favourite, with a pizza menu kids big and small will love.
We rate the Wilted Greens pizza, which uses seasonal veg topped with walnuts and garlic butter, and the Salsiccia is another winner – piquant sausage, mushrooms, caramelised onion and mozzarella. It’s really got some kick so your small people need to be ok with spice if you’re ordering this beauty. For a safer option, the Aloha is ham and pineapple, done right.
Pipi bases are super thin and crispy rather then chewy and moreish – allowing the abundant toppings to shine.
What’s more, the Pipi Truck makes pizza-eating a mobile experience, popping up all over the Bay from Napier’s Marine Parade to rural Waipukurau. It also caters for weddings, big birthdays and other special occasions.
One more tip: do save room for dessert – the Bad For You Fudge is the perfect sweet bite (it’s a chocolate fudge made from chocolate biscuits- what could be better?) and when in season, the strawberry shortcake is heavenly.
NEW KID: Vinci’s
Napier’s main drag has a new player, and the day dish calls in, the place is pumping. Vinci’s is a by-the-slice operation offering slabs of pizza served American style – with bright yellow, red and white branding and hip signage that helps transports you straight to the street vendors of New York.
Priced at a reasonable $5 to $6 per slice, it’s a great drop-in joint for lunch – or grab a table and order the full 18” to share with friends.
We enjoyed the Margherita – which was served beautifully hot, cheese bubbling. Our Mortadella didn’t fare as well, though, and we found the base and toppings both too cold. The Mushroom pizza was herby and delightful, flavoured with rosemary and garlic, and certainly the pick of the bunch.
Vinci’s also do vegan pizza for the animal-free, and there’s hot sauce and extra oregano for those wanting a pizazzier pizza.
Welcome, Vinci’s! We think you’ll fit in just fine.