Hitting the pizza not the slopes

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The tre carni pizza… salty Italian sausage, a generous service of spicy Calabrese salami and quality leg ham on a rich tomato sauce. Photo: Wendy Johnson

Dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON finds herself enjoying a pizza beside the ski slopes… in the in the Dairy Road Precinct.

HAVING pizza by the open fire while watching skiers slide down snowy slopes in Canberra is deliciously entertaining. In Canberra?

Wendy Johnson.

Vertikal offers the Alpine experience right here in the capital. An indoor snow sports venture, Vertikal’s philosophy is ski, drink, pizza, repeat. 

It all started with a visit to an exhibition at the relatively new Grainger Gallery in the Dairy Road Precinct (well worth a visit). Feeling a bit peckish, we visited Vertikal next door. We popped in to see what it was all about and that was when the aroma of freshly cooked, woodfired pizzas convinced us that this was where we were going to have lunch.

We didn’t hit the slopes but watched eager adrenaline junkies do so on Vertikal’s simulated terrain, thrilled at watching themselves ski in real time (mirrors are at the base of the slopes).

Vertikal’s décor creates a perfect “apres ski environment”. Big, bulky, comfy, brown leather couches surround a massive open fire. The fitout replicates a ski chalet, complete with big wood logs, ski gear and artwork featuring mountains. 

The Vertikal milkshake… good for an energy boost. Photo: Wendy Johnson

There’s beer on tap, wines and hot drinks to keep you toasty warm. If you need an energy boost, hit the milkshakes. If you’re craving some sun, head to one of Vertikal’s outdoor picnic tables, positioned in a garden area and around a water feature.

Fifteen styles of authentic, wood-fired pizza are on the menu, some with tomato bases and some with white bases. They’re served on attractive, round, wooden boards with handles.

Tomato base options start with a clean Margherita ($15), which we always enjoy, but we were looking for hearty pizzas and both selected tomato bases. 

The tre carni ($25) delivered. It was loaded with chunks of salty Italian sausage, a generous serve of spicy Calabrese salami and quality leg ham. The tomato sauce was rich and the melted mozzarella brought the dish together beautifully. The crust wasn’t too thick or thin.

Also generous with ingredients was the diavola ($22), which had a substantial kick of chilli. 

It, too, had Calabrese salami, complemented by smokey chargrilled capsicum and melted mozzarella. 

The diavola pizza… Calabrese salami, complemented by smokey chargrilled capsicum, melted mozzarella and a kick of chilli. Photo: Wendy Johnson

White-base pizzas are all vegetarian including a rosemary and potato, a pumpkin and a quattro formaggio (all $22). 

House-made soup of the day created with seasonal veggies and served with freshly baked bread is also available ($15) and so is a gooey, nutty Nutella calzone ($15). 

For something lighter, there’s the house-made focaccia drizzled with cold-pressed olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt ($12).

Staff were super friendly, but the service was hit and miss. You order at the cash register, but there seemed to be the need for more training so orders and payments could be processed more efficiently.

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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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