Pompei's is a great restaurant. That's not to say the service is slick, but it is friendly. Even if your water glasses stay empty longer than might be ideal and the drink wait is painfully protracted, the pizzas and people make you forget it.
The Campari and sodas come in huge straight bar glasses and they're strong. None of this one-shot-per-glass (Campari isn't a full strength alcohol and shouldn't be treated like one). War, pestilence and famine aside, there are few things worse than an anaemic Campari before dinner and it's great to see these guys doing it right. There's a theme running here with the classic Italian aperitif - all the light shades at Pompei's are made from pre-mixed Campari and soda bottles (the only RTD worth drinking). Clustered together, they make a great feature of the front window.
Start with some grissini (that's breadsticks to youse) with a plate of prosciutto while you think about pizza. Play it straight with a margarita (tomato, buffalo mozzarella and basil) or try the broccoli topped with mozzarella and ripped up chunks of pork sausage. They also make an excellent pizza biancho (that's pizza sans tomato) with thin slices of potato, sea salt and rosemary. The bases are thin, wood-fired and made on a stone (all very traditional) and if you fancy your dough folded, this is the place to come - the salami and ricotta calzone is a ripper.
Sitting outside on the footpath on a Friday night is a great place to watch the action. You can BYO here, but they also have a modest selection of Italian wines on offer (there's a lip-smacking valpolicella on there that'll set you back around $35) so you've got plenty of choice as to how you mould your evening. Plus each of the tables is covered in paper. That means if you've got kids with you, they can decorate the tablecloth and make some art while you eat.
The pizza isn't the only thing here that rocks out. The gelato is just as - if not more - exciting. Pistachio is sweet, nutty and lurid green while hazelnut is a house favourite. But if you really want sweet on sweet, try ordering an affogato (traditionally a shot of coffee over a scoop of gelato) with stracciatella (choc chip gelato) and replacing the coffee with hot chocolate. It's not on the menu but they're happy to make it for you if you can deal with the choc-attack. The sugar and caffeine combo will set you up for a big night out.
What makes owner George Pompei's restaurant so likeable is the fact it's casual, yet the food is excellent. So while you may be eating a slice of pizza on the footpath followed by a couple of scoops of gelato, everything you're consuming is top notch. It's all about a relaxed evening here - order plenty of different pizze, share them around and be liberal with the vino or bierra. Salut!