Pizzas made to capture hearts

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The Garran pizza… salami, olives, capsicum, mushrooms and mozzarella. Photo: Wendy Johnson

“Italian is the name of the game and it’s fun that the pizzas are named in honour of the streets in the area,” writes dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON.

ORTO has opened at Garran shops and with a bit of a bang. It’s compact and cosy inside but has a large eating area outdoors. 

Wendy Johnson.

The exterior is special with fabulous, rustic-looking tiles from Rivoland, and greenery in big pots. We loved the charm, but it was the food that captured our hearts.

To find Orto, follow the sandwich-board sign at the front of the shops. This eatery, tucked in at the back of Little Garran Café, has a golden glow about it when the sun sets. 

Italian is the name of the game and it’s fun that the pizzas are named in honour of the streets in the area. Orto only serves 13-inch pizzas, which have eight slices each. While there’s no ordering half-half, which is clear on the menu, we wanted to road test two styles. Staff invited us to take the rest home, which we were happy to do. 

Pizzas start at $18 and top off at $24 with each offering great value and quality.

Orto’s Brereton pizza… starts with a quality tomato base and is created with mozzarella, plum prawns, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil. Photo: Wendy Johnson

The Brereton ($24) is a perfect combo of ingredients for those who love a chilli hit with their pizza (that’s me!). This version starts with a quality tomato base and is created with mozzarella, plum prawns, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil. We couldn’t resist trying the Garran ($24) – we were, after all, in the suburb – which also featured a tomato base. It arrived with a generous serve of salami, olives, capsicum, mushrooms and mozzarella. 

What we appreciated was the dough. Everyone has their fave style of pizza dough but when it rises slowly over 30 hours it isn’t heavy on the stomach (which means you can chow down more). This is the case at Orto and the base is hand shaped and fired at 360 degrees. Both pizzas came piping hot to the table. 

Two salads are on the menu, including a smashing pear and rocket with crunchy walnuts, enticing balsamic and topped off with a great serve of quality parmesan ($14). The pear was sweet and the rocket peppery.

Orto’s pear and rocket salad with crunchy walnuts, balsamic and topped off with a serve of parmesan. Photo: Wendy Johnson

We topped off our evening with superb gelato, including a dark chocolate, light chocolate and strawberry – all beautifully creamy. Other Dolce items were a baked ricotta cake, a sticky date pudding and a tiramisu (housemade and we must go back to indulge). Individual desserts arrive with a scoop of gelato and are only $10. Or you can finish off with an Affogato with vanilla ice cream ($7).

Orto is BYO alcohol only. There’s no need to fret with the IGA right next door. Corkage is only $5 a table, or $10 for groups of eight or more. 

Orto has charm. Staff are friendly and keen to ensure you enjoy your dining experience. We did.

Orto. Garran shops, open Wednesday to Saturday from 5pm.

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Wendy Johnson
Wendy Johnson: Food reviewer for Canberra CityNews magazine since 2004, covering stories for true foodies to digest.

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