Review: Rockstar Pizza & Drink Parlour
The Easy Hearts frontman Brent Dowson is palming the mic and giving the late Jim Morrison a run for his money with a blistering cover of Riders on the Storm. It’s a ballsy choice for an opener, and the perfect call for Stealth Hospitality’s equally ballsy venture into the live music scene, Rockstar Pizza & Drink Parlour. The former Chinwag venue along Victoria Street is almost unrecognisable, transformed as it is into the 80s dive bar cool of a New York loft. Stripped down and de-flashed, it’s a gritty masterclass in nailing a makeover and creating something unlike anything else in city.
Joining the requisite dim lighting, retro gig posters plaster the walls, while bursts of hot neon fire up darker spaces, there’s metal caging covering the windows, black booth seating, and an enormous black bar that dispenses everything from huge pitchers of beer through to tricked-up adult milkshakes (in the form of ‘Spiders From Mars’, naturally), a succinct wine selection covering off the essentials, and some serious alcoholic alchemy in the form of a bangin’ line-up of house cocktails. Around the side of the bar, inquisitive types will find a free pinball machine (unexpected bonus!).
We peruse the menu as the band launch into back-to-back Beatles bangers Come Together and Get Back, while Shakira bares a taut midriff from the cover of Rolling Stone above us. A curation of essential grunge bar eats, the headlining pizzas are broken down into red and white sauce bases and named after legendary rockers. There’s also a selection of Big T’s Burgers and sides and other mains coming under the header Food. Stealth’s bar tsar Adam Wood turns out a firecracker version of the classic Bloody Mary (Proud Mary) which fuses chorizo-infused vodka (yes really!), hot peppers and primo spiced tomato juice with red wine and an Ardberg mist which sets the scene for things to come. Bringing some see-through-time heat, they come in science lab-style glassware, and are game changing in their brilliant marriage of smoky cured meat and single malt magic.
FYI the pizzas are huge, with thin, crispy bases, and punch well above their weight in the flavour stakes. They’re joined by some next-level fries, soggy with gravy (they also come crunchy if you’re a traditionalist) and the super-crunchy coated goodness of CFC (Canterbury Fried Chicken). The succulent chunks are straight up addictive, and that’s before we rain down a sizzling dragon sauce and sharp blue cheese aoli on them. Rounding out the feast is the Beef Burger with Cheese, in which the humble cheeseburger has been pimped up to become one of the city’s finest. Its meaty hit oozes juices from the real beef patty, while housemade pickles and tomato sauce bring a crisp tang that ensures we’re still talking about its virtues the following day. It’s a huge meal to be sure, and excellent value, and the only thing left to do is order in a mega pitcher of Mountain Goat Steam Ale and join the crowd as the band serves up Rolling Stones’ realness with a bitchin’ jam of Sympathy for the Devil.
Rockstar Pizza & Drink Parlour
104 Victoria Street
03 366 4544
Note: The band pictured is not The Easy Hearts.