It wasn’t until the Pizza Festival last year that I truly learnt to appreciate pizza and the little nuances that makes it such a popular dish around the world.
Authentic pizza is not loaded with toppings, it should only have a maximum of five added ingredients – including the tomato and mozzarella on its base. In terms of regional variations, it’s all about the pizza base. I’ve already covered Pizza Romana style; and will cover Pizza Napoletana next. For now, we’re going to take a look at Pizza Italiana.
As recommended by Matteo, founder of Pizza Festival, one of the best places to try the Pizza Italiana style, is at Pompei’s at Bondi Beach.
The first thing that catches our attention is the stunning mosaic wall which brings together the aqua hues of its beachside setting with the cosyness you’d expect to find at an Italian pizzeria.
Here, the pizzas are made with carefully selected ingredients: stone-ground unbleached flour, extra virgin olive oil, natural yeast, Snowy Mountain’s spring water and sea salt. The pizza dough is proofed for 36 hours in true artisan tradition. Everything, down to he ingredients are the best possible; take for example, the tomato sauce, made with organic vine ripened tomatoes.
Our drinks are also of the imported Italian kind – peach nectar ($4) and Moretti Pilsner ($7).
The pizzas follow the 13 inch tradition but there’s a sophistication about these. Perhaps it’s the perfectly circular base, or the meticulously arranged toppings. The Pizza Italiana base is in between Pizza Romana and Pizza Napoletana. It’s fluffy, but not quite as thick and chewy as the Neapolitan style, yet it’s crispy but not quite as thin and crunchy as the Romana style. This pizza middle-ground, is hearty, and very good looking.
The speck e funghi trifolati ($24) is smoked prosciutto scented with juniper berries and herbs, mixed sauteed mushrooms including porcini, fior di latte mozzarella and tomato sauce. The flavours are clean yet deeply satisfying.
We also try the gamberi e pesto di prezzemolo ($24), one of just three pizzas on the ‘without mozzarella’ menu. The toppings consist of local prawns, parsley, pesto, tomato and chilli. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so nourished from eating a pizza! Without the mozzarella, the richness of the tomato sauce and the sweetness of the local prawns really stand out.
For dessert, it’s a no brainer to share one of Pompei’s housemade gelato sundaes.
The coppa baba al rhum ($14) features baba soaked in rum, homemade pistacchio, hazelnut and dark chocolate gelato, whipped jersey cream and amedei chocolate sauce. Trying hard not to giggle at the shape of the rum baba which may or may not make you think of a man’s *ahem*, the two gelato flavours work brilliantly together.
As we indulge in the fresh gelato, we ponder upon which style of pizza is our favourite… There’s a mood for each one, I concur. Pizza Napoletana is comforting, Pizza Romana is satisfying, and Pompei’s Pizza Italiana style is clean eating.
126-130 Roscoe Street, Bondi Beach, NSW
Phone: (02) 9365 1233
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of Pizza Festival