Modern design with communal eating in mind - I’d call it a mod-com restaurant. Hidden away on little old Brisbane Street, Pizza Autentico are tackling all you can eat Italian dining, and they’re doing a pretty good job.
The joint is tastefully decorated with black and white photos depicting, I assume, classic Italian scenes of streets, shop fronts and portraits. At the end of the large communal table (more on that later) is a fairly blank chalkboard - the name of the restaurant, the words ‘buon appetito’ and a tally of most pizza slices eaten in one sitting. The record at the time was 32.
Pizza Autentico requires a brief explanation on arrival as it’s not your usual system. All you can eat means unlimited pizza and pasta for an hour and a half (trust me, it’s more than enough). You’ll also notice that there’s only one table. Communal eating is an idea that I rarely see these days, and I think it’s a great initiative. Of course it was quiet when we came, and I can see that it might be a little overbearing when the table is at its full capacity of at least twenty people.
Like I said, it’s quiet when we arrive, only one other small group at the front of the table, so we seat ourselves square in the middle. We’re here for an all you can eat meal, $20 a head - pretty reasonable. I’m starving an hour before we even got here, so a wave of relief comes over when the first slices come out from the kitchen within five minutes.
So, you don’t order the pizza you want or pick it out from a buffet. You just wait for it to be brought out to you. It’s clever, and here’s why - it forces you to slow down your eating. What happens when you have an interval between slices of pizza and bowls of pasta? You feel fuller much more quickly. It also minimises waste. We’ve all filled a plate from the Chinese buffet, only to give up and leave a mess of rice and noodles behind.
There are side orders that you can get as well, and while I didn’t have time to try them all I can vouch for the arancini balls. Come to think of it, it’s probably the fault of the arancini balls that I couldn’t keep eating past the one hour mark. They’re gooey, cheesey and red hot on arrival. Very tasty.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the choice of beers they have at Pizza Autentico. A peroni on the menu would have been standard, but they had much more interesting options. Not a massive range, but they are all legitimate imported Italian beers, and they taste great. They’re also all the same price ($9), which prevents you from being unadventurous. I hadn’t actually realised just how spectacularly a complement Italian beer was to pizza.
I’ll be honest to close this review here - the all you can eat food at Pizza Autentico wasn’t the best I’ve ever had, but that’s ok. Plenty of times in the past I’ve found myself paying at least $20 for just one lousy pizza or an average bowl of pasta, and I find that much more disappointing. Bottom-line is, the ingredients were good quality and the pizza base was nice and thin, as real Italian pizza should be.
At the core, Pizza Autentico is a solid little restaurant if you’re looking to fill your tummy for a reasonable price. The food is pretty good and it’s authentic - just don’t bring your Italian in-laws here and expect them to be reminded of home.