I'm a QBI (Queenslander born interstate) and like to write about things that inspire me in my adopted hometown. Living by choice in the inner southside of Brisbane.
Published June 23rd 2012
One of Brisbane's hidden treasures has to be the Schonell Theatre in the University of Queensland or "UQ" grounds. Part of the student union complex close to the Brisbane River, the Schonell Theatre is right next door to the Pizza Caffe, which – in certain circles – itself is famous.
Entrance to Schonell Theatre
When I was new to Brisbane, I first heard about the Pizza Caffe from a bunch of people I was working with in a multilingual environment at the time who were either directly from Italy themselves or of Italian heritage. Most people are aware that Italian heritage is pretty strong and even the kids born here to Italian parents are quite particular about their pizza. Well, the word amongst that crew was that the Pizza Caffe at UQ made some of the best pizzas in town.
The Pizza Caffe
Before the "Green" Bridge, officially renamed the Eleanor Schonell Bridge after it opened, was built, we had to catch the little Dutton Park ferry over, but these days it's just a walk (or a bus ride if you're coming from further afield) over the bridge from Dutton Park to the university grounds.
The beautiful walk over the bridge to UQ
If you are coming from the city, you can come by City Cat, but do check with Translink that there is a City Cat or bus that will take you home after the movie. Of course, the student union complex which houses the Schonell Theatre and the Pizza Cafe is also accessible from the St Lucia side via a stroll through the beautiful university grounds.
Luckily, I live just across the river on the Dutton Park side, so the cinema and cafe are now easily accessible via the bridge. So for a number of years now I've been coming across to catch a movie and sample the pizzas which come in toppings from A–Z, with each letter of the alphabet named for someone linked to the Italian film scene, from "A" for Antonioni to "Z" for Zefferelli. It's a cute gimmick, but everyone still just calls it by its letter (I'll have the "A" pizza, thanks). My favourite is the Sophia Loren, referred to as the "S".
The A to Z of pizzas
The bases are nice and thin, and they offer gluten free on request too. The pizzas come in one size which makes life simple.
As you would expect from a student cinema, the movies shown here are often not seen elsewhere, but also some of the better mainstream films can be found here, just a little later than general release. This is handy if you missed a good film while it was doing the rounds at the mainstream cinemas.
Check here for their current movies and session times.
I usually go for the Schonell Theatre and Pizza Caffe deal for the good value it represents. They offer 2 movie tickets and 1 pizza to share for $25, or 2 movie tickets, 2 pizzas and 2 glasses of house wine for $50. You place your order at the Pizza Caffe counter, and you can either eat your pizza first, or tell the staff what film you're seeing so that they can time the pizza to be ready for when the film is finished. Very obliging!
Outdoor seating for pizzas
It's such a pleasant thing to do with a friend or partner on a Saturday evening, Sunday afternoon, or anytime for that matter – a stroll across the bridge, a pizza and a glass of wine on the pleasant deck with a view to the trees and playing fields beyond, or inside if you prefer, and then wander inside to see a movie in a cinema that is never, in my experience, at all crowded. You always have your pick of where to sit. The cinema is kind of retro and more "intimate" than large, but the sound and picture quality are excellent.
The ticket counter sells drinks and ice creams too
Then, if you've eaten your pizza prior to the movie, it's another stroll back across the bridge and time to discuss the film.
OK, I admit it, sometimes I slip across during the week and catch a matinee. Hey, that's the advantage of working from home.