Two weeks ago, I was invited along to an exclusive Crust gourmet pizza dinner at the Armadale store to try out Crust Pizza’s new range of ultra-gourmet pizzas. I was tempted by the sound of five spice pork belly and wagyu on a pizza!
My local Crust Pizza store is just a store front for takeaway pizzas, with customers taking their pizzas home to eat. When I turned up at the Armadale branch, I was expecting to be brought into the kitchen to be shown how the pizzas are made, but instead we were led to a courtyard out the back which had been fitted out to look like a 5 star restaurant, complete with candles. It was certainly my first time eating pizza by candlelight! The Crust Pizza store in Armadale is the only store in Victoria that you can “eat in”.
We were introduced to head Creative Chef Peter Augoustis who shared some interesting facts about Crust Pizza. Crust Gourmet Pizza bar first opened in Sydney in 2001 with the first Victorian store being opened in 2002 in Richmond. The first international store was opened last year in Singapore, bringing the total number of Crust stores to 62 at the end of last year. Some of the busiest stores make 2,000 pizzas a week! That’s a lot of pizzas. The best selling pizza is the chicken peri peri.
Peter demonstrated how to make the perfect pizza dough and then made some pizzas in front of us. Peter explained that you should let the key ingredient shine when it comes to pizza toppings and sometimes less is more. Cheese should always go on the bottom to help protect the base and when putting on your pizza toppings, you start from the outside and work your way to the middle. Every bite should have something in it.
The first pizza to come out for tasting was the wagyu prawn. It’s a rectangular pizza with slices of wagyu beef, marinated tiger prawns, asparagus, red capsicum and shallots, and drizzled with a hollandaise sauce. Hollandaise sauce on a pizza is such a genius idea! This pizza was delicious, my favourite one of the night. I had another piece and would have gone for a third, but there were still other pizzas to taste!
The second pizza brought out was the one I was looking forward to the most, the five spice pork belly. This pizza was also rectangular and had slices of five spice marinated pork belly with rocket, crushed walnuts, pear chunks and a balsamic glaze. Unfortunately it turned out to be my least favourite. I found the pizza too cinnamony and I think the pear would have been much better thinly sliced, than in big chunks (feedback we gave to Peter). I couldn’t eat the walnuts, so I gave them to Shellie, who from that point on became my stand in hubby (tee hee, private joke :P).
Next up was the Salmon Benedict pizza. This was a round pizza with smoked salmon, red onions and baby spinach and also drizzled with hollandaise sauce. I think they should have added poached eggs and it would be the perfect breakfast pizza! I normally don’t like salmon pizzas because the salmon always ends up being overcooked, but this one wasn’t.
The next pizza was the Cajun chicken pizza. It was a round pizza with Cajun spiced chicken, red onions, green capsicum, mushrooms and jalapenos, topped with Peri-Peri sauce. This pizza had a spicy kick to it even without eating the jalapenos. It was my second favourite for the night. I really liked the sauces on the pizzas.
The fifth and final pizza was the peppercorn wagyu pizza. This was a round pizza with wagyu beef slices, asparagus, caramelised onions and pine nuts, drizzled with a peppercorn sauce. By this stage, I was really full so I resorted to eating the toppings and leaving behind the dough! I don’t like too much pepper so I found this pizza too “peppery” for me.
We ended the night with a fun, interactive group activity. We were divided into 3 groups and each group had to come up with their own dessert pizza, give it a name, and give it a marketing slogan and the judges would pick a winning pizza. We had a choice of 3 bases – nutella, condensed milk and caramel, as well as a host of fruits, nuts and chocolate toppings.
I was on Team Awesome, with fellow bloggers Shellie and I-Hua, as well as two others, Cat and Jade. We came up with the “Nutella Sutra” pizza which was a nutella base, with caramelised banana, desiccated coconut, fresh strawberries and crumbled hazelnuts. I love Nutella so I loved this pizza. The funniest part of the night was when Peter kept pronouncing the name of our pizza wrong! I don’t think everyone got the play on words with the “kama sutra”!!
Another team designed the “Girls night in” pizza, which had a condensed milk base, blood orange, milk chocolate bits, cinnamon and drizzled with melted chocolate. This pizza was really sweet due to the condensed milk base, which I found dominated the flavour.
The final team came up with the “Banofee toffee” pizza. The pizza had a caramel base, with caramelised banana, chocolate and was topped with whipped cream. I thought it was a clever name (like a banofee pie) and they ended up winning. How can you go wrong with caramel, chocolate and banana?
I was all pizza-ed out by the end of the night but had a great time!
You can check out the full Crust Pizza menu here.
Over & Out, April xx