South Africa is not known for pizza, and you certainly won’t find authentic New York- or Chicago-style pies here. (I recently saw a Facebook photo of someone eating Ray’s Pizza in New York. It looked so delicious — I nearly wept.)
But there is pretty decent pizza to be had in Melville. I’ve become a fan of two restaurants, both of which serve pizza of the ultra-thin-crust variety. The atmosphere of both places will give even the coolest New York pizzeria a run for its money.
My top pick is the Ant, which I described briefly in a previous post. I didn’t get back with my camera until today though, and the essence of the Ant is best conveyed through pictures.
The Ant was originally a coffee house. It was opened by Ronnie, an artist who got fed up with Melville’s dearth of decent coffee. Ronnie then started experimenting with wood-fired ovens and created a recipe for thin-crust pizza. (When I say thin, I mean so thin it’s almost non-existent. Which I love, because I can chow a whole pizza and still feel relatively non-piggish.)
Feta cheese with avo. Avo (no one says “avocado” here) is a popular pizza topping in SA. Note the ramekin filled with red sauce. This is chili sauce — every South African pizza comes with a side of it. It’s much hotter than the red pepper flakes we sprinkle on in the States. Joe always advises me to use the oil only, but I like to dump it on seeds and all.
Ronnie isn’t the Ant’s owner anymore, but his art is still on the walls and the pizza and coffee are still delicious. They still don’t take credit cards.
My second Melville pizza pick, the Bo, is actually just outside Melville in Richmond. But close enough.
The Bo (it’s real name is the Bohemian but no one calls it that) is across the street from a building that houses most of the international media offices (CNN, BBC, Al-Jazeera, Associated Press, etc.) in Joburg. Journalists like to drink copious quantities of cheap beer in grungy dives. Hence, the Bo.
The Bo’s pizza is slightly thicker, and slightly cheaper, than that of the Ant. I find it nearly as good.
But the crown jewel at the Bo actually isn’t the pizza — it’s the ginormous palm tree that grows over the courtyard. Sitting under the tree at a picnic table at sunset, with juke box music and cigarette smoke wafting around you, is a magical experience. So magical that you’ll hardly care when a racoon-sized rat scurries past your table.
The Bo has live music on Saturday nights. Joe and I went for dinner last Saturday to check it out, but there was an electronica band playing and the performance didn’t start until 10. We tried to stick it out but got tired and gave up around 9. I make a lousy entertainment blogger.
Monday is half-price pizza night at both the Bo and the Ant. Boo-ya.