Ace Pizza, Highgate
As Ronny Chieng, the comedian, so eloquently put it – you can’t please everyone. Your passion projects will always have an audience, and that audience’s feedback to your work can be mapped out in the shape of a bell curve. A large majority of the population will think that your quality of work is standard, many will think it is just below or above average and there will always be a minority that truly adore or, on the flip side of it, truly despise your work.
One of the great things I’ve realised since starting Savour the Moment is taking on board constructive criticism – there will always be people out there who, no matter what you do, will not be impressed by your labour of love. But to balance it out, you have people who genuinely value what you do and spur you to continue. It’s taught me to be more open minded, better at problem solving and be just that little bit more attentive to the smaller details. Part of these skills I have developed through my professional career, but this food based passion project has also enhanced my techniques.
My little sister happens to be one of those special people, who will be my side when it all gets a bit rough and crazy in life, so when the opportunity came, I decided to reward her support with two tickets to the Perth International Comedy Festival. The comedy session finished at 7pm and as the venue was Astor Theatre, we decided to head up Beaufort Street to Ace Pizza for some good hearty Italian food.
We didn’t have a booking, so the man at the front offered us a seat outside or up on the bar. We chose the latter option and hoisted ourselves up on the stools. Luckily for my sister and I, we had ample room to move about and better yet, the lighting was fantastic (yay for photo-taking fanatics, like myself!). So often when I have been at Ace, my pictures have required significant filtering and editing to remotely resemble something that isn’t a block of black or a dish shrouded in shadows. The lovely man at the bar placed water and menus onto our table immediately and we began to read through.
As my sister went to the toilets, I tried to get a snapshot of the “Ace Pizza” neon green sign, but my flash popped up and blinded a few people. The manager came over to inform me that maybe it wasn’t a good idea to take photos of people, especially without their permission. I quickly told him that I had been trying to take the sign with my zoom functions, so he seemed okay with it. I always feel so self-conscious with my Digital, this chunky device that will single you out from the rest of the world. The things we do for love (of food).
My sister and I started off with the parmesan and prosciutto croquettes ($13), four oval rounds which had been crumbed and deep fried. They were cracked open and the steam erupted from its creamy, oozy interior. I loved the bite of the prosciutto, all meaty and chewy, which infused the overall flavour of the croquettes. The feathery parmesan on top had a sharp bite and was pleasant.
The humble mac and cheese came out in a jazzy format, as two crumbled, fried mac and cheese cubes ($7). They were mammoth in size, with a crisp deep fried exterior sprinkled with a dash of salt. Inside was the prized mac and cheese, tube pasta suspended in a thick béchamel sauce. Cheesy goodness right there, still in the same faction as our previous croquettes. My sister and I thought that it was well worth the $3.50 each we paid for them – it hit all the right spots.
Surprisingly, I have never actually ordered a pizza from Ace, despite it being part of its namesake. This time around we got “The Amalfi” pizza ($25) that came with a topping of north west prawns, lemon, garlic, capers, san marzano tomato, mozzarella and salsa verde. There were bursts of colour from the tomato and salsa verde, but my sister and I thought the toppings were a bit scant as a whole on the pizza. Whilst I loved the fried capers scattered on top, they had been applied quite liberally and as a result made the pizza super salty. The lemon only added extra acidity to the dish, so much so that my sister and I couldn’t really completely enjoy it. I did love the pizza base though – lightly crisp on the edges with a chewy baked dough.
Another “Things from the Kitchen” items included the fat pasta and braised beef shin ($22). The fat pasta turned out to be pappadalle, immersed in a creamy sauce and mingled with portions of braised beef. The beef was lovingly cooked, braised to perfection. It came away easily with every stab of the fork and the sauce was rich, but used only to dress the pasta casually so it didn’t become too heavy. The pasta was a tad overdone, lacking the firm al dente chew after we popped it into our mouths. The braised beef was a standout in the dish.
I forced my sister to share two “sweet things” with me, even though we were bursting at the seams from our mains. We shared the Ace Soft Serve ($7), a specific obsession within my group of high school friends. We’re all a bit salted caramel nuts, so the tall bottle that came with our vanilla ice cream was perfect to satisfy those cravings. The other bottle contained chocolate ice magic (confirmed by the waitress who exclaimed to my sister, “good guess!”) that froze upon contact with the ice cream. To the side was a powdery biscuit crumb, which melted like icing sugar on my tongue.
The salted caramel sauce was probably the best I’ve ever had – with the craze now, some places say they have “salted caramel” so-and-so, which actually turns out to be just an exceedingly sweet caramel. Ace whizzed up a fantastic salted caramel sauce, which had even measures of both salt and sugar. Melding all the toppings together was heaven. We kept on dousing layer after layer of soft serve in the various toppings. It was like a mini dessert buffet.
We asked the man at the bar what the half baked heaven ($14) actually entailed, and he was happy enough to give us a run down of the dessert. He described it as a chocolate peanut parfait with a peanut butter sauce. When it came out, I was entranced – it looked beautiful, topped with one of my favourite sweet treats – Italian meringue. It sat like pinnacles on top of the parfait, surprisingly warm despite the freezing cold floor of the half baked heaven. The meringue was charred and had a marshmallow-y consistency.
The parfait was icy and deliciously sweet. Crumbled dehydrated white chocolate, a smatter of peanuts and a thick peanut butter paste surrounded it. It all worked together very well and was a favourite from my sister. You did have to eat the half baked heaven first before the Ace Soft Serve, as my sister and I found out, because the salted caramel topping would overpower the sweetness from the half baked heaven!
The food came out super fast and the team at Ace consistently checked up on us to see how we were going. The ambience reminded me a bit of an underground clubhouse, a funky basement lit by flashy neon green lights and fitted with dark booths, but thankfully minus the thudding bass music. It was also a pressure cooker for body heat, which thankfully warmed us up on a cold, windy autumn night.
The man at the bar area was exceptionally helpful and attentive, requesting if we wanted chilli with our prawn pizza and constantly refilled our glasses when the water levels got too low. As we were making our way through the pizza, it became clear that we weren’t going to be able to finish it – requests for a take away pizza box were met with easy adeptness from the lady at the bar. As a whole, the staff drew parallels to the wonderful service I had received at el Publico, a few blocks up the road – they were approachable, warm and easy going.
It got pretty quiet towards the end of service, so my sister and I decided to head home. Ace Pizza has some killer desserts and a grand selection of different Italian dishes (including pizza, its specialty). It is all incredibly substantial and the good food is matched up by great service. I would recommend Ace as a go to place for those seeking a bit of adventure on the traditional pizza!
Address: 448 Beaufort Street, Highgate WA 6003
- Ace is open 7 days a week for dinner (from 5:30pm to late).
- Pizza are available for take away (contact number: 9328 1106).
- Reservations can be made via phone on 0499 448 000.