Consider the sauce: Pier 71 Bar E Cucina

Hamburger (Italian style)

Bennie and I have an engagement in Altona – the launch party for a new eating place.

In truth, we’re not sure how – or if – this will work for us.

It’s a weeknight, with school and work the next day, and it remains to be seen whether CTS will get enough of a look-see at the food to generate a story.

Pier 71 Bar E Cucina

  • Address: 71 Pier Street, Altona
  • Phone: 9398 8598


We get through the security cordon, stride up the stairs and find that, nope, this isn’t for us – it’s all about people standing around drinking. Bennie’s in his school uniform and we just don’t feel comfortable.

This place will have to wait for another day.

So around the corner we go, still chasing a feed, to throw our lot in with Pier 71 Bar e Cucina.

This turns out to be an ace move on our part, as this very cool Italian has until now escaped our notice, even though it’s been around for a couple of years.

It’s all about casual Italian – something along the lines of Ovest in West Footscray or Mascalzone in Williamstown – big on pizzas, pasta and salads, not so gung-ho about steaks and pricey seafood.

Photo: Kenny Weir
Photo: Kenny Weir

The place is roughly split into three areas – a communal table at front, what amounts to a long hallway of both booth and table seating next to the kitchen/serving areas, and a flexible alfresco area out back.

We eat very well, and find the service and timing fine for a busy mid-week night.

Pizza Napoletana ($17.90) is as good as we could hope for – simple, very fine and expertly done. There’s stacks of anchovies – good for me, not so good for Bennie!

The chips that accompany our “hamburger” (Italian style, $18.90) are superb – hot, crisp, plentiful.

Fried discs of chorizo atop chips seem something of an affectation, though, and our first conclusion is that we’d be happier if that effort had been put into more heft in our burgers, which seem smallish for the price.

Bennie makes rude comparisons with burgers elsewhere, but after eating I conclude he’s being unfair – because, as is so often the case, this eats bigger than it looks.

And it is indeed in the “Italian style” – the meat is much more finely minced than is the case with burgers generally, be they old-school Aussie or the American style. It’s a delight with its capsicum, onion, mozzarella and sauce.

We go for it in terms of indulgence by sharing the tiramisu ($10.90). It’s a dreamy, rich fantasy – much stiffer in terms of consistency than we’re used to, the booze-tinged cream a thing of grinning decadence.

Pizza Napoletana
Pizza Napoletana