A FISH and chip shop owned by Indians that does woodfired pizzas better than most Italian joints?
Taaj Cafe in Palmyra is like one of those bizarre mash-ups where Kumbaya is sung by Marilyn Manson, but somehow it works and is really memorable.
Situated beside a bottle shop on a roundabout on Carrington Street, the cafe doesn’t look like much and you’d probably gave it the odd glance while getting your booze for the weekend.
The reason I remembered it after my initial visits was because of the super friendly owners – you get the same level of chat and smiles on a mega busy Friday night as you do on a quiet weekday.
And it’s not forced enthusiasm like in franchises where the spotty teenage waiter is reciting the corporate script verbatim.
They seem genuinely happy and enjoy a chinwag.
Taaj’s menu had a nice range of fish and chips – snapper, hake, shark, barra, cobbler and local King George Whiting – burgers and woodfired pizzas.
There’s plenty of combos and meal deals, making it a popular and low-cost option for Palmyra locals.
I’ve had the fish and chips a few times, and while it was pleasant enough, it was the pizza that made my taste buds stand to attention.
I wanted to check if it was as good as I remembered, so I ordered a family meal deal – any three 12” pizzas for $69.
So let’s get the elephant out the room – broccoli on a pizza.
The mere words would send tradies and red-blooded males running to the hills with pitchforks and wooden torches, ready to burn down the pizza heretics.
But my chicken-broccoli pizza was superb – a delicious mix of marinated chicken, broccoli, garlic and rosemary.
Everything was top notch – fresh toppings with plenty of flavour, a rich gorgeous tomato sauce and a base that was perfectly woodfired with that tell-tale mottled base.
I’m not a fan of the modern trend for swirls of sauce on pizzas, but this Hollandaise sauce wasn’t too sickly and was quite sparing, enhancing the flavour.
I’m normally a purist with pizza, so for this fusion number to win me over was quite a feat.
My wife “Special K” is probably more red-blooded than me and just watched ‘The Red Wedding’ in Game of Thrones for the fifth time, so naturally she went for the Meat Lovers.
“It’s not overloaded and is just a nice mix of good quality ham, bacon and pepperoni,” she said.
“The tomato sauce is killer and the base is as authentic as you’ll get in any Italian cafe. A killer pizza.”
My two kids concurred, devouring there Margherita like Jon Snow’s albino direwolf ‘Ghost’.
They finished it all and gave it the thumbs up.
The pizzas were nicely seasoned, not overly salty, and I wasn’t left imitating Gunga Din, ferrying litres of water from the fridge all night.
Taaj have all the old Italian favourites on the pizza menu, as well as some interesting diversions like the Moroccan with beef mince and paprika, and a marinated lamb number that is delicious.
Okay, so you can usually get three pizzas from a well-known franchise for around $30, but these were head and shoulders above that and combined the traditional Italian woodfired technique with some interesting, unorthodox toppings.
Taaj Cafe’s pizzas are definitely worth a go and it’s on a few online delivery services like DoorDash if you’re outside Palmyra.
Taaj Cafe To Go
60B Carrington Street, Palmyra
by STEPHEN POLLOCK