Yes it's a cliché, but sometimes really good things do come in small packages.
While Sydney Road would be better known for its Turkish or Lebanese style bakeries, one of the best sits in an unassuming little shop on Lygon Street. Dominated by its large oven, this cramped but cosy eatery has a steady stream of customers mainly for takeaway (at least when I visited) with a few choosing to dine in.
At first glance Mankoushe looks a little run down. However, with its huge front window allowing plenty of natural light to stream in it's a surprisingly comfortable place to eat. Staff are very friendly and helpful and the pizzas and pies come fresh straight from the oven.
The menu choice is long and includes a large proportion of vegetarian options. Prices are low, with the cheapest item $2.00 and the priciest $9.00.
The sojak (sausage pizza) is a bit different to your average suburban pizza. Topped with olives, tomato, capsicum, onion and pickled cucumber, it has a slightly sour taste on a base which is crisp but a bit more bread like than a typical Italian style pizza.
Interesting was the Kawirma with labneh, a type of yoghurt. While I thought it might have benefitted from a little more meat, the combination of the mince and yoghurt resulted in another slightly sour but lighter and healthier seeming option than the more normal cheese based pizzas.
While the pizzas were good, I thought the pies were better. Both the Cheese and Spinach Triangle and the Haloumi Cheese pie were huge and threatened to overflow their plate. Hot from the oven and generous with the fillings, they arrive quickly enough for a snack on the go but are substantial enough for a filling breakfast or lunch.
It's hard to believe that there could be many better fast food type options in Melbourne in this price range. Unfortunately it's only open Thursdays to Sundays, but I did overhear a background discussion about a possible Brunswick outlet in the works.
Food - 8
Ambience - 7
Service - 7.5
Price - 8.5
325 Lygon Street
Brunswick East 3057
Tel: (03) 9078 9223