The MCA are very kindly staying open late on Thursday nights during March so that worker bees like the BFF and myself can scurry down to The Rocks after work and check out the Annie Leibovitz exhibition. Thanks MCA!
As the night is all about Annie Leibovitz and not about food (unbelievable I know) we decided beforehand to find somewhere cheap and cheerful to have a quick but tasty bite to eat before heading off the exhibition at the MCA. This appears to be easier than it sounds as, whilst The Rocks has quite a few great places to eat, a lot of them are a bit pricey and not really the "eat and run" type of place we are after.
The BFF had suggested a quick noodle dish from Wok On Inn so I went to check it out before we were due to meet up. Whilst it fit the criteria (quick, cheap, cheerful) the surrounding courtyard eating area was all but closed down for the night and it didn't have a nice feel about it. This would be a much nicer place to eat during the day when the area is buzzing with activity.
I thought I would wander down to the harbour to check out Greenhouse by Joost, the new pop-up environmentally friendly and sustainable bar & restaurant that has set up camp on the waterfront until the end of March.
I'd read quite a bit about this place and knew the food was reasonably priced, yummy, wholesome and you couldn't ask for a better location. As I approached the makeshift structure I got a tad excited...the place seemed empty, with none of the crowd I was expecting to encounter. Squee - I'd just grab myself a recycled-billboard table and text the BFF and tell him where to meet me. It wasn't until I got right on top of Greenhouse that I saw the big, spray painted sign "Sorry we are closed for a function tonight". D'oh!
So, it is on to plan C.
I had been to Zia Pina Pizzeria more than a few times back in my youth and thought it could do the trick tonight. Albiet I'd always had a few drinkies before eating at there, so I had fond memories of the place. It was always busy with tourists seeking a cheap dinner, or city workers grabbing a quick pizza on their way home after a few post-work drinkies with colleagues.
When we walk in the place is just as I remember it, so not much as changed in 15 years. The downstairs is tiny, with about ten tables all with mandatory red and white checked table clothes. Quaint. Zina Pina's is aiming for the rustic Italian feel with wooden floorboards and exposed brick walls.
The menu is quite large with at least twenty different types of pizza on offer, as well as pasta, salads and soup. There is also a set menu available for groups at $28.00 per person.
The pizzas are quite reasonably priced and a medium Cabanossi Pizza sets us back $14, and it is enough for two people with modest appetites to share. We add anchovies to our pizza for an extra $2.00 as I just cannot seem to eat pizza anymore if it doesn't have anchovies on it. I think I have a serious salty food addiction happening.
The pizza has a super-thin base that is perhaps just a bit too thin (or perhaps not quite cooked enough) for the thick ooze of cheese and tomato sauce that smothers it as goes a bit soggy...but it's still pretty tasty, albeit sloppy.
We also decide to order a Prawn Salad ($18.00) to add a bit of healthy eating to our cheesy pizza fest. The salad is a bit on the expensive side for what is essentially a salad of rocket with five garlic prawns and three cherry tomatoes. That said the salad is tasty, with a scattering of pine nuts adding a nice nutty crunch to the mix.
This is by no means a fine dining restaruant, nor a gourmet foodie experience. It won't be the best pizza you've ever had but it's pretty tasty and hits the spot when you need a quick bite to eat on your way to somewhere else.
The service is friendly, quick and efficient and we are in and out in under 40 minutes (we're faster eaters too, which helps speed things along nicely).
Zia Pina Pizzeria is at 93 George Street, The Rocks