Review: The Forge Pizzeria, Ballarat Victoria

To cap off a recent weekend in Ballarat visiting attractions like Sovereign Hill and the Gold Museum, I went with my brother and father to The Forge Pizzeria in town for lunch on the Sunday before driving back to Melbourne for my late afternoon flight back to Sydney. Recommended with a high rating on Urbanspoon (now Zomato), The Forge Pizzeria is absolutely massive. Dressed up as an old warehouse with the requisite exposed bricks and industrial reclaimed furniture, the restaurant can easily seat 200 people or even more. The massive brick pizza ovens take pride of place along the walls though, and you can see the pizza chefs at work if you just peek over the bar.

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We ordered a few cold drinks to start our meal. I decided to combine dessert with my beverage, and ordered an iced chocolate which came with a delicious scoop of creamy vanilla ice-cream. It probably could have been blended up a little bit better as the chocolate mix hadn’t quite integrated with the milk, but I quite like getting bursts of chocolate so it worked quite well for me. Dad’s strong iced coffee came with its own scoop of ice-cream as well, which my brother quickly ate under the guise of ‘taste-testing’ the coffee!

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On the menu was a pulled pork pizza with an apple slaw topping, so of course, I had to order it, because who ever turns down pulled pork? Unfortunately this pulled pork was a little dry, I assume as a result of having been cooked for a second time in the pizza oven. It’s unfortunate because the flavour was definitely there – it just lacked the texture that you would hope for. It’s too bad that the pulled pork wasn’t used in a pasta instead of a pizza, as I think it would have been a much better choice.

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The potato pizza was a much better choice. You can’t go wrong with wafer thin slices of potato, a healthy sprinkle of rosemary and salt, as well as an absolute metric ton of melted cheese. Simple pizzas always win, and this won in spades from the crowd-pleasing toppings to the crispy but fluffy crust.

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Remembering how much my father had enjoyed the grain salad at Gazi, I ordered the quinoa and lentil salad for him to try. While it was enjoyable in its nuttiness, it lacked a certain punch which could have elevated it into something special. The grain salad at Gazi included pomegranate seeds which really added bursts of flavour, and I feel like the Forge Pizzeria should have added something like that to their quinoa salad to make it really sing.

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We finished off our meal with one of the specials of the day, gnocchi with Italian sausage and wilted spinach. This was the first time that Dad had tried gnocchi, and he kept asking me, “This is potato? Are you sure this is potato?” I can understand the confusion – this gnocchi was so light and fluffy that you would find it hard to believe that it was made with something as dense as a potato. Combined with the rich tomato sauce and the spicy sausage, this dish was a real winner.

I can understand why The Forge Pizzeria is so popular with the locals – the prices are good and it really caters well for larger groups. The menu can be a bit hit or miss, so I would recommend ordering some simpler pizzas for a guaranteed good meal, rather than opting for fancier versions like the pulled pork.

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