We had such yummy pizzas and wine at Vibrante once before that we decided to trek back for another go. But alas, something has gone horribly wrong in a year’s time. Once we walked in, we nearly jumped through the roof at the ‘shotgun blast’ slam of the front door as it closed behind us (note: every time someone comes/goes, the slamming will literally startle you senseless if you’re seated in the front dining room); and whilst the rest of the place looked the same, we didn’t realise the food was going to be so different, or else we wouldn’t have bothered in the first place.
So, the toppings on the Capriciossa ($18 + $2 for the addition of salami, which is odd – given Hubby Bear asked for no anchovies – you’d think they’d just call it even? Obviously not!). Hubby Bear raved about the tasty topping mixture of salami, Virginia ham, mushrooms, olives, tomato & mozzarella – but the excitement stopped once his chewing started to uncover the pizza base in his mouth. “This isn’t right” he said as he continued to chew, “This is definitely a frozen pizza base, it’s like Pizza Hut’s but thinner”.
“Uh-oh” I thought to myself as I looked down at my pizza, this isn’t boding well….
My “gourmet” Campangole ($18) was much the same as hubby’s in that the toppings themselves were of a decent quality and flavour. The basil pesto meshed well with the arrangement of spinach, zucchini (uncooked though, mind you), pumpkin chunks, mushrooms, red onion, and olives. But the pizza base – O.M.G. – was horrid. Yes, I just said horrid. It was as though an old frozen pita bread mated with a Ritz Cracker biscuit and this was their baby, prancing around pretending to be a gourmet pizza base. So poor was the texture, flavour, and quality that I avoided eating as much of the base and crust as possible. And that’s sad because I love the crust.
And to top it all off, we ordered the Pear Rucola Salad ($18) to share. But instead of really sharing, we just shed tears over it. If you were to read the description of “Pears, rocket, walnuts, parmesan and figs” – firstly, you’d expect parmesan, yeah? No parmesan. You’d expect fresh figs, yeah? They were the dried up variety sliced into pieces. Yes, there were walnuts, rocket and pears – but the pear to rocket ratio was about 60% to 40% – so a bit heavy on the ripe, watery pear side. The vinaigrette was fine, but what was that lemon wedge all about? Did I miss the memo about the lemon?
Perhaps this is how they really make this salad in Italy? Hmmm, perhaps. But I’m leaning a little more on the not likely side given the flavours and textures were so unbalanced – and I know Italians can make a mean salad – so perhaps this is the salad Italians don’t want to claim? Or perhaps, just perhaps, the cook in the kitchen didn’t really care and threw it together like an amateur because, well, it’s just a salad right?
I think you can guess our final verdict: not going here again.
Granted, we may have copped a bad night where the pizza chef’s called in sick, the door got jammed (repeatedly), and the fly on the windowsill next to me decided to take a nap, on his back. But I’m not willing to fork out another $56 to find out. Especially when that same amount of money spent at Va Tutto, Noi Pizzeria, Ciccio’s or D.O.C would – without a doubt – turn these frowns upside-down. But if you want to give Vibrante a go, by all means go and prove us wrong.
Address: 133 James Street, Templestowe, VIC 3107
Tip! Not sure I’ve got one other than, maybe try something else other than the pizzas…