Ask any aficionado. Pizza is a serious business. It's all about the dough. And the topping. The puffiness of the crust. Head to Gigi Pizzeria in Newtown and keep your eyes peeled for the lightbox by the entrance. It's Gigi's official certification by the Associazone Verace Pizza Napoletana. That's the True Neapolitan Pizza Association, certifying pizza makers around the world. There are only five in Sydney and Gigi is one of them*.
Assembling pizzas - note the pizza clock behind!
The True Neapolitan Pizza Association is a non-profit organisation founded in Naples that seeks to "promote and protect in Italy in worldwide the "true Neapolitan pizza". The rules are long and detailed. Here are some of them:
- The dough must be worked exclusively by hand
- The pizza must be placed directly on the floor of a stone oven for 60-90 seconds. It should not be on a tin or rack.
- The temperature of the stone oven should be about 430C (485C on the cooking surface).
- The pizza should be eaten as soon as possible, and must be able to be folded in half (a libretto).
- The pizza should be round with a diameter no larger than 35cm.
- The dough should have a raised edge with a topping thickness of about 0.4cm in the middle.
- The crust should be 1-2cm and puffed.
- The bottom of the pizza should be golden and free of burns.
Slicing pizzas on the pass
Gigi's accreditation probably goes some way to explaining why it's so busy. By 6.30pm on a weeknight, the place is full. They don't take bookings either. They don't need to. There's no shortage of punters strolling in - families, couples and groups who are here for both eat-in and takeaway. We find service to be largely distracted, with repeated attempts required to secure the attention of waitstaff and to follow-up on our drinks orders. We're also told by one waitstaff that "I don't take dessert orders" and then forced to find and flag the correct person down ourselves.
But the locals seem to take it all in their stride, and the place is buzzing with activity. All the action centres around the wood-fired oven. It's a stage show in itself with dough being tossed in the air, piping hot pizzas hauled out of the oven, and the crunch crunch of pizza cutters splintering their way through puffed up crusts.
Potato pizza $18.50
Potato, mozzarella, fresh rosemary, garlic and truffle oil
We kick things off with potato pizza, a glorious vision of carb-on-carb action that will break any Atkins devotee. The slices of potato are thick enough to still have some bite, but cooked so the flesh is soft and buttery, all drowned in a lake of molten mozzarella accented with fresh rosemary twigs and splashes of truffle oil.
San Daniele prosciutto pizza $23
San Daniele prosciutto, mushroom and mozzarella
Our pizzas come out thick and fast. Sheaths of San Daniele prosciutto are still soft and pliable above a bed of mushroom and melted mozzarella.
Tre funghi e stracchino pizza $18.50
Stracchino cheese, three types of mushroom and garlic
There's much to love about the three mushroom pizza too. There's an aromatic earthiness to the trio of funghi, and the stracchino - a young creamy Italian cheese made from cow's milk - is mild and milky with a slightly tangy aftertaste.
Pizza crust aka the upskirt shot
The pizza base ticks all the boxes too. The edges have risen to a bubbled and fluffy rim and the upskirt shot reveals a speckled brown base, with notes of smokiness from the woodfire oven.
Zucca insalate $16
Salad of baby spinach, roasted pumpkin, feta, pine nuts and balsamic dressing
Margherita pizza $16.50
Tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil
Margherita pizza might seem simple to the eye, but it's this minimalism of ingredients that is the true test of a good pizza. It's wetter than most other pizzas, but the oozing river of melted mozzarella swirled through with tomato sauce will satisfy your soul. A humble scattering of fresh basil leaves accents everything. If you manage to polish off a slice without getting tomato sauce all over your shirt, you deserve a certificate.
Diavola pizza $19.50
Tomato, mozzarella, hot salami, capsicum, olives and parsley
The diavola or devil pizza is just as fiery as you'd expect in the greater depths of hell. The hot salami will set your tongue on fire - in a good way. You've been warned.
Pizza with eggplant $20
San Marzano tomato, buffalo mozzarella, ricotta salata and basil
The eggplant pizza is a favourite of the night, thin shavings of eggplant draped across the pizza with buffalo mozzarella, ricotta and fresh basil. I don't think there's a tastier way to eat your vegetables.
Despite our bellies bloated with pizza, we can hardly say no to dessert. The tiramisu arrives in a glass tumbler, a perfect caffeinated pick-me-up, although I find the chocolate drops on the top a tad distracting, interfering with the smoothness of the whipped cream.
Baked ricotta cake $8
The baked ricotta cake is lusciously light and fluffy, and reminiscent of the famed ricotta cake from Pasticceria Papa in Haberfield.
Fab pizza worth the wait. And if you do order too much, the leftovers are happily packed in a pizza box for takeaway. Helloooooo breakfast.
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379 King Street, Newtown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9557 2224
Tuesday to Sunday 6pm-10.30pm
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3/09/2014 12:02:00 am