Impressive is the word that hovered at the tip of my tongue as we stepped into Tazio Birraria Pizzeria Cucina located at 66 Flinders Lane, Melbourne CBD. Inside, Tazio was tastefully designed and dimly lit. It appeared like a low-ceiling cave lined with rosette-embossed stone pavers. The rustic and warm ambiance was inviting and welcoming. Business attired office people appeared to make up the majority of the patrons.
An attentive waitress soon came and greeted us. It was a nice, clear evening so we opted for sitting on the outside deck where designer benches beckoned us. As we were ushered towards the outside deck area we found the deck to be divided into smoking and non-smoking sections. The non-smoking section was taken up by two guys happily chatting away while smoking cigarettes. We expressed our discontent at the presence of the smokers in the non-smoking area and proceeded to go inside. To our surprise, our waitress approached the smokers and politely requested them to relocate to the smoking section. We really appreciated this gesture and happily thanked the waitress before getting comfortable at one of the tables.
The friendly waitress left us with more smiles and the menu. The extensive pizza menu proclaimed the usual favourites as well as some wonderful surprises. The price ranged from $14.50 to $17.50. All pizzas were 11 inches and sliced into 6 pieces. A delectable range of cucina (cucina means food in Italian) enticed us while a long list of Italian wines and delectable cocktails tempted us. Cucinas started from $14.50 and cocktails were priced at $12.50 onwards.
Given the mouth-watering options, decision-making was nothing short of a struggle. After some spirited discussion, we placed our orders for a Della Mare, a Vendure and a Pizzetta all'aglio.
Our food took some time to arrive and we filled the waiting time with laughter, giggles and cosy conversation. The Pizzetta all'aglio was the first one to arrive on our table and it was time to test taste the pizza. The garlic pizza topped with herbs and mozzarella immediately impressed us. The tentative first bite declared that the pizza was crisp with a thin base and the flavours were beautifully done. Soon most of the pizza had disappeared into our hungry tummies.
As we licked our fingers the Della Mare and the Vendure made their appearances. The Vendure had a crispy base with toppings of tomato, mozzarella, roasted pumpkin, peppers, red onion, pine nut and ricotta. The sweet flavour of roasted pumpkin and ricotta was expertly balanced with the savoury taste of tomato and mozzarella while the peppers added a zing to the dish. This sumptuous pizza was an instant hit with my tastebuds and received the tick of approval from the entire dinner party.
Next we turned our mind and mouth towards the Della Mare whose aesthetic presentation was visually appealing. The pizza had a crispy and puffed base and was loaded with succulent prawns, tomato, mozzarella and fresh spinach. The incorporation of chilli and garlic definitely elevated the experience. Oohs and aahs serenaded the dish as we eagerly savoured the scrummy pizza.
While located in the epicentre of Melbourne's thriving food and wine scene, Tazio ran the danger of going off track like some corporate cafes where instead of good food, good marketing takes priority and service suffers immensely. Because of the authentic offerings, attentive service and affordable prices, Tazio gets a pat on the back and 8 out of 10. I will certainly be returning for more.