When my editor asked me to write about a dish I couldn’t stop thinking about, all I had to do was look down from my screen to the plate in front of me.
Forget my inability to stop thinking about it – I can’t stop eating the Grandma Square Pie from Carlton’s Italo-American spot, Capitano.
Pre-pandemic, I had a so-so attitude towards takeaway. Going for it always seemed like a tacit admission of laziness or lack of cooking inspiration. These days, now that ordering lasagne in your pyjamas is the new patriotism, takeaway is my life.
I’ve been home alone (and not in the fun, prank-filled Macaulay Culkin way) for almost nine weeks. I also work from home – which, though it’s definitely a privilege, still has its drawbacks (such as no IRL human company). So I – like many people across Melbourne – have developed a strange perception of the passage of time. I’m stuck in this weird Covid wormhole where everything is both fast and slow.
But every Friday night, my dalliance with takeaway is the line in the sand that tells me the weekend has started.
Even though I write a Melbourne takeaway guide every week and keep our live list up-to-date, I’m often stumped about what to order myself. So I usually get pizza. And there’s an extremely high chance that pizza will be Capitano’s Grandma Square Pie.
In Melbourne, we have pizza pretty well figured out. I would go as far as to say that we’re low-key one of the world’s great pizza cities (and I have a lot of opinions about pizza). But there are still a few types of ‘za that can be difficult to find here. The Roman al taglio (square and by the slice) has never really taken off, nor has Chicago’s deep-dish pie, which is more like a dough-based Italian casserole than a pizza.
The Grandma Square Pie is closest to Detroit-style pizza, which is popular throughout the American Midwest, but relatively rare here in Melbourne.
It’s cooked in a rectangular baking dish, so the sides develop a thick and very cheesy crust. (You know when you’re making a toastie and cheese oozes onto the hotplate, turning a dark, golden brown? And you scrape that off and it usually becomes the best part of the toastie? Imagine a pizza where the crusts are made of that.) It’s a rare pizza that makes the crusts the star of the show, but the rest is no slouch either.
The dough is airy, chewy and slightly sour, with a great amount of smoky char. The toppings are smartly spartan, considering how hectic the rest of it is: tomato sauce that’s perfectly sweet and garlicky; mozzarella and pecorino; fresh basil leaves and dollops of stracciatella.
The size is also perfect. Don’t be fooled, though: it might be smaller than a classic round pizza, but it’s about twice as deep – and twice as dense. Order this (or its spicy pepperoni sibling, the ‘Roni Squared) and you’ll be very satisfied. It feeds a couple of normal adults, or one especially ambitious single (this guy). And if you can’t finish it (also this guy, on another night), just freeze the rest and defrost it in the oven whenever the need arises.
That’s exactly what I did this morning. Which is why, when my editor asked me what dish I couldn’t stop thinking about, it was an easy question to answer.
The Grandma Square Pie is available for pick-up and delivery to nearby suburbs. Order online.
“I Can't Stop Thinking About” is a series about dishes Broadsheet’s editors are obsessed with.