55a New Quay Promenade 

03 9670 0999

Whatever happened to Docklands? NewQuay is quieter and quieter these days. A handful of restaurants are closed down and the others never seem hugely full, even on weekends. And so it was with some trepidation that I headed down there to meet a friend for dinner on a Thursday evening.

The $13 charge in the pay-and-display car park was the first unwelcome surprise, quickly followed by the gale force wind that greeted me as I turned onto the promenade. NewQuay looks fantastic on paper: a waterside eating, drinking and entertainment precinct, with well-appointed apartments, street art and one or two nice hotels, but summer or winter it almost never appeals. I forge ahead stoutly, driven more by the prospect of some intellectual stimulation and a glass of wine than by anything approaching culinary excellence.

At six o’clock in the evening, Cargo has yet to heat up, literally and figuratively. I settle into a window seat and pull my jacket closed. A glass of Barossa shiraz helps to lift the gloom, and my friend and I get down to the serious business of catching up.

It’s not an enormous menu but we are both drawn to the pizzas. We go old-school with a capriciosa and a good old mushroom pizza. No smalls and larges here – they’re all the one size. There is a wood fired pizza oven here, but they don’t make a big deal of it.

The pizzas are served in less than ten minutes, both a generous dinner-plate size with a fair (perhaps overly generous?) sprinkling of Italian herbs. I had ordered mine well cooked, and it came just so: a little charred around the edges but on the whole sturdy enough to pick up by the slice without losing all the topping.

Not the most inspiring pizza I’ve ever had, but decent enough and a fair price. The anchovies on the capriciosa were not standard topping but added beautifully to the overall saltiness.

We watch the boats come and go on the water outside, and again I am stuck with the mystery that is NewQuay: it appears to have all the elements of a great locale, but somehow it ends up being less than the sum of its parts. And with car parking charges more than even the astronomical St. Kilda, there really doesn’t seem any reason to go there above all the other great entertainment spots around Melbourne.

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