My family has operated (and continues to operate) an italian style cafe for many years. First in Leura, and now again in Glenbrook. At one stage I was a studying to be a chef, and worked there full-time. Our restaurants although they do pizza, aren't really 'pizza shops'. We do pizza's that have less cheese, thiner bases, and you find ingredients like egg-plant, rocket, brie-cheese, home-made pesto and sun-dried tomatoes on our pizzas, not spam and canned mushrooms. You may be familiar with the 'Soup-Nazi' from Seinfeld, well we're kind of like that, but for pizza - trust us, we know what's good. ;)
I ended up ditching the chef thing (I can still chop veggies like a machine) because I didn't want to spend the rest of my life in a hot kitchen (which although fun, can end up getting pretty monotonous, and kitchens are hectic, stressful places to be during service). Suffice to say, that 'I know pizza'. I've cooked and eaten them for a very long time.
I was hungry tonight, and decided to get some pizza. I usually ring Pizza Hut (AKA Pizza Slut) just because I have always known their number from their advertising jingle since I was a kid (even before they put the nine in front of it) but I've had enough totally crap food from them of late (yeah, I might be up myself having worked in a gourmet pizza place for many years) so I decided to ring the local guys, Zappi's, who are just up the road from me.
When I ring Pizza Hut I get a pre-recorded message from 'Dougy' telling me that I'm being sent through to the voice-recognition system (I think he calls the voice system 'my mate Annie' or something equally pathetic) that then figures out that it can't understand what I'm saying to it before putting me through to an under-paid and under-enthused operator who stuffs up my order. One time I rang them up, and ordered two pizza's, a garlic bread and 10 1.25L Pepsi Max's and paid by credit card. I had the 'special' delivery guy turn up (late), and demand to see my credit card - I could tell by his manner that he assumed that I wasn't going to be able to produce it, he was a real cock about it, I guess the strange order sent off a little red flag on their systems and they decided that I might be trying to rip them off.. turns out I was just thirsty. Other times when I've asked for Pepsi Max, they've sent Pepsi (proper) and with around 500 calories a bottle (guessing there) I would only need about 4 of those for my entire energy requirements for one day..
Anyway, tonight I was really happy with the local guys. Their pizza was leagues above even the 'good' stuff that I get from Pizza Hut (yes, there is 'good' and 'bad' Pizza Hut pizza, usually a function of the number of beers you have consumed, and how long they left their tomatoes festering under the bench). Also the service was really good, even though I got home delivery. Firstly, they took my credit card (which is awesome) even though they had to do it with one of the old-school 'hard-copy' card readers when they arrived, they were still open at 9:30PM and they had my food to my within less than 30 minutes. I got two large pizza's and 3 1.25L drinks, for $37, which is damn cheap, and I'm pretty sure I'd pay about the same from Pizza Hut..
I was just so happy, I thought I'd say something.. local, personalised service, where you get to deal with 'real people', not some corporate process, and get more than what you expect, even though it might seem a little romantic, really is something special. Perhaps more so for me, since the only person that I've seen all day was the delivery guy.. :P