You know a place must be pretty good when it's crowded on a Saturday night in eatery-laden Darlinghurst. Walking into Mad Pizza for the first time we were met with friendly waves and smiles by laidback and trendy looking wait staff, which along with the snazzy beats played by the resident DJ adds to the feeling you've stepped into a sexy bar rather than a pizza place.
Crayons on the tables and paper replacing table cloths add to the quirky atmosphere and most likely a welcome distraction if you're experiencing jittery first-date nerves. The décor, with whisks and kitchen utensils hanging off the lights reflects the easy-going vibe and you'd be forgiven for thinking its food will have the same relaxed attitude. But one look at the comprehensive menu and you get the impression Mad Pizza means serious business.
Authentic Italian with a twist, there's something for the most cynical pizza connoisseur with the comprehensive pizza menu covering all bases from the 'Polpette' – pizza with meatballs and roast peppers to the 'Otto' roast potato pizza with white prosciutto. With half of our party of five feeling adventurous we opted for the 'Almafi' – sweet tiger prawns, ricotta, garlic, chilli flakes and roma tomatoes with fresh mint leaves, and the 'Tibia', shredded lamb shank, grilled eggplant, red onion and rocket leaves with yoghurt dressing.
The rest decided to go with their pasta offerings of 'Linguine e gamberi'' sautéed garlic marinated prawns with linguine, chilli, red onion, roma tomato & tomato sugo sauce with ricotta mint leaves, 'Spaghetti aglio e olio' tossed spaghetti with extra virgin olive oil, chilli, shallots, flat parsley, shaved parmesan and pinot grigio white wine sauce, and 'Tagliatelle e cotechino' spinach-flavoured tagliatelle pasta with cotechino sausage, fresh oregano, roast peppers, chilli, spinach and chianti tomato sauce.
We weren't made to wait very long for our much-anticipated Italian feast with the pizzas first to arrive and placed on towers. The flavours of the 'Almafi' pizza with the thin crust allowed you to appreciate the crunchiness of the sweet tiger prawns with the fail-proof flavours of chilli and garlic. The shredded lamb shank on the 'Tibia' was also a hit, with the tenderness of the meat fusing with the crisp freshness of rocket leaves and yoghurt. It wasn't difficult to see why the 'Linguine e gamberi' was the best seller, with the garlic marinated prawns sautéed to perfection against flavours of red onion, ricotta and mint.
Mad Pizza successfully pulls off combining a trendy Darlinghurst vibe and a hip bar-like feel without compromising old-school Italian flair. Hint: if you're keen to sample something from the dessert menu you might have to order it as a starter!