While the pizza is cooking, I head outside to find my dining pal—an open-minded, born and bred Brooklynite I cajoled into joining me on this gastronomic experiment. “Let it rest,” the server suggests, as he drops the steaming pizza onto our plywood picnic table. “Last night people were too eager and the topping slid off.” As ordered, we watch and wait, noses twitching at the pleasing (for me, at least) Vegemite-tinged aroma, until the cheese begins to congeal.
I slide a slice onto a paper plate, fold it in half, and guide the pointy end into my mouth. My teeth sink through the familiar viscosity of melty cheese. The sauce is silky, the dough chewy. But it’s not until I pull away, with strings of mozzarella cobwebbing my chin, that I get a hit of Vegemite. There it is. Loud and rambunctious. Salty as all hell. Unapologetic, and punching above its weight. The first bite drops me back, like a rogue seashell, onto the soft sand at Bondi Beach.
The spread-to-sauce ratio is surprisingly well balanced (most newbies go to town; rookie mistake). But as a combination, I’m not sure it does the sum of its parts justice. Rosa’s Pizza is perfect on its own. As is Vegemite. Vegemite pizza, on the other hand, is a bit, well, unnecessary. I would probably eat it again, if only for a taste of home when the jumbo jars my family ship over inevitably run out. But I’m gonna be honest: toast, butter, and a smear of V is still number one.
As my friend and I walk back towards the G train we pass Rocka Rolla, a dive bar we’ve never been to before. It seems like the perfect place for a postprandial debrief (a.k.a. it exists and it’s not too busy). Inside we order goblets of ice cold beer to hydrate our palates and cop a squat in one of the booths. After a few sips and a bit of banter, I notice an AC/DC neon sign on the far wall. And then, as if on cue, the Aussie band’s worldwide hit, “T.N.T.,” starts pumping out of the speakers. New York dive bars and a lick of quintessential Oz rock? Now this is a pairing I can get behind.