Does this new pizze-pasta joint have the goods to match its looks?
Rita’s is the new all-day pizza/pasta café and bar run by Lorne lads and school buddies Brett Graham and Rob Lowther. They’ve staked their claim on Johnston Street (right near Shu) and on the hitherto quiet strip, their offer of Seven Seeds coffee and breakfast, a little gnocchi at lunch, and Campari soda and pizze at the bar in the evening is an alluring one. Especially when the vibe is relaxed enough that you don’t need to wear your Good Shirt.
The room reminds us of a really clean American diner – gleaming white tiles, deep green booths and a long produce-strewn bar, behind which Daniel Spizzica (who’s traded the water views of Stokehouse for the ‘Wood) is punching out your pizza base garbed in a jaunty peaked cap.
Rita’s definitely ticks boxes: friendly service, great local wines and craft beers like the Allendale Dam lager on tap. And you can’t go wrong with a pork sausage pizza, embellished by a scattering of peas and shredded fennel. But then, Spizzica’s crunchy-over-fluffy bases are a table divider. Likewise, thick ribbons of papardelle and silky spaghetti are beyond reproach, but a cavolo nero puree with chalky broad beans lacks the sparkle needed to pursue the dish to its end. You'll fare better with a ballsier Bolognese, coated in a healthy shave of parmesan and fresh herbs.
They're still finding their feet, although a massive dish of crumble with Jock’s ice cream goes a long way towards righting wrongs.
The earnest crew are working with all the ingredients for success, so check this joint out for a mid-week sip’n’snack next time you’re in the ‘hood.
|Venue name:||Rita's Cafeteria|
239 Johnston St
|Opening hours:||Mon-Thu 5pm-late; Fri 11am-late; Sat-Sun 7.30am-late|
|Transport:||Nearby stations: Victoria Park|