Round 5 of Pizzalympics took us to an old pizzeria in Kensington, Johannesburg East. Ottimo has been around since 1992, which speaks volumes. Based on this, and the fact that everyone I spoke to raved about it, I had a sneaky suspicion that Ottimo would take the lead.
Décor: Your typical Italian pizzeria – everything Italian, everywhere. As it should be. If you are not a Ferrari and/or football fan, you will be converted.
Vibe: We were advised that Ottimo did not take bookings. As such, I expected it to be jam packed. It wasn’t. That being said, there was a steady flow of traffic in and out, sitting down for a quick plate of pasta or fetching a couple of pizzas. Ottimo strikes me as the kind of place you go to for a quick pizza – I didn’t really want to sit there with a bottle of wine for a few hours.
Service: Not great. Our waiter was either really new or really hard of hearing. Practically every drinks order had to be repeated and some were forgotten. He was hardly ever around and on a few occasions we had to go looking for him. Our 10 person pizza order was, by and large, taken correctly (I didn’t ask for extra feta on my pizza yet there it was) so I guess I can’t really complain. I thought it was quite odd to see a waitress sitting on the floor near the bathroom, but hey, maybe her feet were sore.
Pricing: Really reasonable. A bigger than average pizza will cost you between R60.00 and R80.00.
Base: The base at Ottimo is exactly how the base of every pizza should be. Not perfectly round but perfectly cooked – thin, crispy and slightly charred in places. Utter perfection!
Average score: 5 out of 5
A coupla comments: “Thin, crispy, very good” “Wow, best base in a loooooong time. Excellent” “Perfect. Crispy and yum”
Toppings: Ottimo isn’t trying to re-invent the wheel. It knows what works and why. You won’t see colourful combos on this pizzeria’s menu and that is just fine with me! Sometimes all you need is a good ol’ regina. Toppings are well distributed and each slice holds its shape and toppings. This is definitely a pizza that can be eaten without a knife and fork…just as all pizza’s should be. On a slightly disappointing note – I nearly always order olives on a pizza. I expect them to be proper olives, sitting in brine and pitted by the chef before lovingly adorning my pizza. Those olives that (I assume) come already pitted in a tin are not acceptable. Nothing natural has a perfectly round hole in the middle. They taste nothing like an olive, do not use them. ESPECIALLY when putting delicious “normal” olives in the salad.
Average score: 4 out of 5
A coupla comments: “Almost the perfect balance…chilli””Great! Fresh” “A bit cheesy and stringy” “Meh, I’m going to try a different pizza next time” “Perfect. Asparagus for the win”.
Awesomeness: As per usual, we ordered the sangria (with me limiting myself to one glass…I had two) it was not as good as some others we’ve had. It tasted a bit watered down and the design of the jug meant we landed up with half of it on the table and all the fruit left behind. One further point, no one really “checked on us” throughout the night. I expect a manager to at least pop past and see that everything is ok, especially in a small family style restaurant with a group of 10 people.
Average score: 4 out of 5 (in reality, 3.6 but I rounded up)
A coupla comments: “Very good venue but perhaps lacking some pizzaz” “Service not great, sangria not great” “Awesome but slow service” “Love cars, love bikes but kitch”
Overall: As expected, Ottimo takes the lead with 13 out of 15.
I think there can be no question that Ottimo makes some of the best pizza in Joburg! It was truly fantastic! However, for me, it fell a bit flat in respect of atmosphere, vibe and service. If I’m in the area I will definitely pop in for a quick pizza but I’m not sure I would make a special trip.
179 Queen Street, corner Cumberland
011 615 2823