Sunday lunch: Pizza Verde

PIZZA Verde, on Kyneton's foodie strip, Piper Street, is a welcoming destination on a cool but sunny Sunday. Narrelle and I step through its doors to find a large, split-level space packed with retro Laminex-topped kitchen tables.

There are no fine-dining hushed tones here, more the friendly buzz of groups who flood in at 1pm for the Sunday-lunch ritual. In plain sight, owner David Hart hustles pizzas into the oven, while more complex dishes are prepared in the kitchen out back.

To start, we share the lemon and chilli crumbed cauliflower ($7) and the mushroom, pea and taleggio arancini with garlic aioli ($12). They're both great: the cauli is not too hard or too soft and the rice balls reveal earthy brown interiors bursting with flavour.

We're trying to pretend summer isn't over, so to accompany the meal, we select a bottle of the dry, refreshing 2010 Maximilian's Rosé ($40) from local winery Forty Paces.

Narrelle's succumbed to the lure of the roast, served only on Sundays. Today, it's cider and caper roasted chicken with crispy rosemary potatoes and a rocket and fior di latte salad ($28, including dessert). The chicken is tender, with a crisp skin and a buttery sauce that imparts a welcome heartiness.

My prosaically named sausage pizza ($18, pictured) is strewn with hand-minced pork and fennel, tomato, roasted red capsicum, oregano and chilli. There's plenty of flavour atop the thin, moist base, with both the fennel and chilli delivering a tasty kick.

For dessert, the dark chocolate mousse scattered with crunchy praline chips and served with "drunken raisin" ice-cream ($10) is superbly rich. Narrelle's quince crumble (included with the price of the roast) features tart pieces of fruit lightly covered by oats, nuts and vanilla bean ice-cream.

It's all good. Factor in the cheery informality and reasonable prices and it's comfort-food deluxe.

Reviewed by Tim Richards, who was hosted by V/Line and Tourism Victoria.

Pizza Verde, 62 Piper Street, Kyneton, 5422 7400, open Thu-Mon, 5pm-late, Sun, noon-2.30pm. To stay nearby: B&B on Piper (bnbonpiper.com.au), Apartment 61A (macedonrangesinteriors.com.au), Isabella at Kyneton (isabellaatkyneton.com.au).

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