While we were in Cairns, we decided to go and try to find the best pizza in town. We sampled 11 pizzas from places in the city centre and surrounding suburbs, and were surprised by the amount of variation you can find. The criteria for a good pizza included choice, quality ingredients, a hardy base, great flavour and the price, as well as customer service and atmosphere.
Here is our list from worst to best…
The Red Beret
We love the Red Beret and would go there every Monday for trivia, but they provided the worst contender on our pizza quest. Poor selection on the menu, soggy base, cheap toppings, bland and overpriced. Can’t say the same about the chicken fajitas, though – they are consistently delicious.
Score: 4/10 – points earned only because it looked decent enough to coax us into buying one.
This was the second challenger on our pizza quest. We were lured in by the bargain of a large pizza for $15.
Juz’s mexicana had good flavour and a good amount of chilli but the base was soggy and doughy. The swirl of sour cream was visually appealing though. Dave wasn’t impressed with his Capricciosa. It had a soggy base, too much onion and no olives. He also had to pay extra for anchovies. Not bad if you’re on a budget but certainly not the best pizza…
Score: 6/10 – points lost because of soggy base and the Capricciosa lacked olives and having to pay extra for anchovies.
We visited La Pizza for lunch while Juz’s mum was in town. We ordered a small supreme pizza for $15.
The base was thin and well cooked with a crunchy crust, but while it wasn’t soggy, it was probably too thin to handle the toppings. The toppings were nice and fresh, but perhaps some more seasoning or garlic would have made the flavours pop. All in all, it was a little lacklustre.
Score: 6.5/10 – points lost due to floppy base and lack of flavour punch.
We drove out to the northern beaches to give Holloways Pizza a go. We got a large Italian pizza for $24 topped with bacon, pepperoni, ham, mushroom, capsicum, onion, olives and anchovies. The first thing we noticed was the base – amazing base with a lip of crust, ready to hold whatever toppings were thrown at it.
The massive let down was the toppings – everything was there but not enough. We hardly noticed any tomato sauce, anchovies were occasional and it needed more olives, salt, seasoning, something! It had so much potential but missed the mark on flavour. Also, the 40 minute wait was too long – they need to upgrade their pizza oven to accommodate for the demand on a Friday night.
Score: 7/10 – points lost due to the poor amount of toppings, lack of flavour, no Capricciosa option, steep price and long wait. All the points go to the base.
Little Ricardo’s on Sheridan Street claims to have been voted the best pizza place in Cairns and we were curious to see if this was true. Juz got a large Mexicana for $19.90 with extra olives and the toppings were spicy and spot on. Dave wasn’t as impressed with his Capricciosa ($17.90), which lacked olives and ham! Both of our pizzas had a really thin base that didn’t have the structural integrity to handle the toppings. Tasty, but not the best… However, the service was good and our waiter, Giovanni was a really friendly guy.
Score: 7/10 – points lost due to the Capricciosa lacking olives and the base was way too thin.
The next pizza is proudly brought to you by Pedro’s on Sheridan Street. We got two large pizzas, two garlic breads and a bottle of drink for around $42.
Dave’s Capricciosa was delicious, with plenty of olives and anchovies while Juz’s Mexicana was a surprise with fresh chilli and minced beef instead of ham. What really blew us away was the thick, crusty base that handled all the toppings with gusto, but it could have done with a bit more salt. In fact, the base was so thick, that we ended up saving some slices for breakfast because we were so full. Their garlic bread was also fantastic.
Score: 8/10 – points lost due to super-thick bland base that made the pizza a little dry and too filling.
Houdini’s Pizza – Best Pizza Base
This was the first pizza on our quest and was the leader for a long time. We were hoping for a Capricciosa pizza but there was no such option so we went with a pizza that we both agreed on – Houdini’s Favourite. It had a great crust that was crisp on the outside and soft on the inside, while the toppings were of high quality, flavour and freshness. It cost us $21 for a large 12″ Houdini’s Favourite and we enjoyed every delicious bite.
It has been a few months since we’ve eaten there and it seems that they have since expanded their menu to include more traditional pizzas.
Score: 8/10 – points lost for lack of Capricciosa option, price and snotty customer service.
Il Forno – Best Quality Toppings
Just before our two-week hiatus in Melbourne, we drove up to Palm Cove to try the infamous Il Forno. These 12″ pizzas were $22 each which is quite dear, but the toppings were top notch quality and tasted fantastic.
Dave got the closest thing to a Capricciosa, which was the San Pietro and got extra anchovies while Juz got the mega spicy Il Forno. Both pizzas were served piping hot, too hot to touch initially. The thin base struggled to handle the toppings but was superb at the crust. Great pizza, truly… but the base was a major let down.
Score: 8/10 – point lost due to soggy base, extreme temperature when it was served and steep price.
Roscoe’s Pizza in Redlynch – Best Value for Money (Thursdays Only)
Roscoe’s in Redlynch was the closest pizza place to where we were living and we were blown away by the value. On Thursdays, they do 2 large pizzas for $20 so we opted for their Anchovy, Olive and Mushroom pizza, as well as a Salami pizza with additional olive and onion at no extra charge.
Both pizzas had a thin but hardy base that was not soggy at all. The olives were quality kalamata and there was enough anchovies and mushroom to satisfy Dave. The salami pizza had the perfect amount of cheese, and the extra toppings really set it off. Of all the pizzas we have tried in Cairns, Roscoe’s Pizza sits at the top for value.
Score: 9/10 – point lost because we suspect they don’t make their own base. It was just so neat!
Stratford Pizza – Equal Best Overall Pizza
This was the final adventure on our epic pizza quest – a little place called Stratford Pizza. Careful or you’ll miss it – it’s only open a few nights a week and is hidden away in the back streets. We’d had our eyes on this place for a while and with high hopes, we were pleasantly surprised. We ordered half and half Capricciosa and Neapolitan with bacon for $22, which was fair because of the extra charges for half and half and extra bacon.
The base was solid and the toppings delicious, plentiful and flavourful. The only thing about the pizza was that it was only cut three times instead of four, so we ended up with a massive slice each. This is easily ignored though because not only was the pizza great, but the licensed BYO courtyard had a lovely ukulele songstress serenading us with a cute tune about puppies.
Score: 9.5/10 – trivial half point lost due to incomplete slicing, but the base, toppings, flavour, price and atmosphere of the place makes it such a gem in the burbs. We highly recommend this place.
La Porchetta – Equal Best Overall Pizza
La Porchetta is conveniently located in the city centre, right next to the cinemas. We ordered a large half & half, Capricciosa and Italian for $19.50. Dave was happy with his pizza, it had all the standard ingredients and tasted great. For Juz, the Italian was the ultimate in pizza – bacon, hot salami, olives, anchovies, garlic and herbs. Wow! What a great combination of flavours. The base was nice and thin but with enough guts to hold up the toppings. Our La Porchetta Pizza rated so highly, it hit the top without hesitation.
Score: 9.5/10 – it ticked all the flavour boxes. Half point off for staff lazing around on couches.
Thank you Cairns for a wonderful pizza quest!