Disclosure: I was invited to check out Garden Tuscany. Drinks and sweet things were complimentary, and we returned on a different day and paid for pizzas.
If someone said to me, “I’ve opened a cafe in my backyard!” I would think that they were well on their way to CrazyTown. But that’s what Stella and Sam of Garden Tuscany did, and not only are they definitely not in CrazyTown, it really works!
Garden Tuscany has received a fair amount of blog attention since they opened late last year, so you may already know the story. The owners, Stella and Sam, have lived in their house in Moonee Ponds for forty years, and one day decided to go ahead with their desires to open a cafe in the backyard. After a two year wait to get permission from the local council, it opened late last year. Stella was optimistic about having to wait so long for a permit, and told me that it meant they had time to perfect things like the coffee, which is made from their own secret blend of three different beans.
The business is a total family affair. One of their sons, Lance, is the coffee master and resident photographer – all the pictures of the food on the walls are taken by him.
He’s also been practicing his latte art – the flower ended up with Alastair by the way.
All the baked goods are made on site by Stella. We sampled a mini cupcake, and while I was a bit worried that there was too much icing, I was happy to find that the ratio of icing to cupcake was spot on. Both the cupcake and icing was seriously good, fluffy and with just the right amount of sweetness.
The pizzelle, an Italian wafer type biscuit very popular during Easter, was also fab – so light and crunchy.
In addition to the baked goods, Stella also hand makes the chocolates. We tried a chilli chocolate and a rose amaretto choc.
The rose amaretto was sweetly pretty, with a whiff of almond liqueur and a rich dark chocolate ganache centre.
I love chilli chocolate, and this one gave off a gentle burn.
Alastair and I also shared a hot chocolate. They’re made from 54% cocoa couverture chocolate, and we had the chilli chocolate one. If you’re a chilli chocolate fan, I can definitely recommend it – it was rich and warming, with a nice amount of chilli heat.
But if you’re not into chocolates and cupcakes (what?!), other sweet goods include scones and churros.
If Stella’s domain is the sweet stuff, then Sam’s domain is definitely the pizzas. He gets up at 6am to start off the pizza dough and fires up the pizza oven at 9am to ensure that it’s hot and ready for cooking by lunch time. He happily posed for a pizza oven action shot for me – thanks Sam!
We had such a lovely time chatting to Sam and Stella, that we came back on a different day to try out the pizzas.
This one was the proscuitto ($13), a pizza with napoli sauce, mozzarella, prosciutto, rocket and olives. It was a salt lovers dream – a bit too salty for my tastes, but the peppery fresh rocket on top helped cut through some of the salt.
We also tried the potato pizza ($12) with basil pesto, sliced potato, fior di latte cheese, rosemary and olive oil.
The potato pizza was fantastic – the tender potato really went well with the oily creaminess of the pesto. Try this one if you’re there!
Garden Tuscany is a great little cafe. Stella, Sam and Lance are super friendly and seem to love sharing their gorgeous garden, which is a bonus for all their customers! However, a wee warning since we’re going into winter: half the seating is outside. While the pizza oven gives off a fair bit of heat, and the outside seating is sheltered and out of the wind, it’s still worth bringing your coat. But don’t let that put you off visiting – just rug up!
For more on Garden Tuscany, check out these blogs:
[googleMap name="Garden Tuscany" directions_to="false"]32 Young St Moonee Ponds, VIC 3039 Australia[/googleMap]
32 Young Street
Phone: (03) 9375 2896
Web: gardentuscany.com.au (Music warning!)