The one-metre pizza at Via Napoli isn’t just a pizza – it’s an edible catwalk, bubbling with molten mozzarella cheese and slightly smoky from the 90-second blast in the 485 degrees celsius domed wood-fired oven. Luigi Esposito, a third-generation pizzaioli – or pizza maker – arrived in Sydney four years ago and opened Via Napoli in November last year. His Naples-style pizzeria is all about keeping to tradition, using Neapolitan caputo flour for the dough, San Marzano tomatoes for the sauce and imported buffalo mozzarella and fior di latte mozzarella for the topping.
The wood-fired oven at Via Napoli
It’s happily chaotic no matter when you go, filled with couples, families and hungry pizza-loving blokes perched around tables that line the foothpath. Service can be somewhat arbitrary, but it all seems part of the experience, along with genuinely thick Italian accents from waitstaff.
Half-metre pizza $25-$40
There are 18 different pizza toppings on the menu – don’t even bother looking for ham and pineapple – including seven vegetarian options.
Siciliana pizza $20 / $40 / $60
Tomato, fior di latte, eggplant and parmesan
The Siciliana is a crowd favourite: thin slices of charred eggplant embedded in gooey mozzarella and a rich tomato sauce.
Quattro formaggi pizza $20 / $40 / $60
Four cheeses - fior di latte, gorgonzola, pecorino and parmigiano on a white base
Purists will stick with the Margherita (tomato, buffalo mozzarella, basil and olive oil); gluttons will head straight for the quattro formaggi cheesefest –mozzarella, gorgonzola, pecorino and parmigiano all melted together in a fist-pumping triumph for lactose lovers.
Salsiccia e cime di rapa $20 / $40 / $60
Fior di latte, sausage, broccoli rapa and chilli on a white base
But it’s the salsiccia e cime di rapa that is the winner of the day: nubbins of pork sausage scattered with florets of broccoli rabe that are mesmerisingly bitter.
Assembling our one-metre pizza
You can choose up to three toppings on the one-metre pizza ($40-$60). If you haven’t brought your local football team to eat with you, the 13-inch round ($16-$20) and half-metre ($25-$40) pizzas provide more modest portions.
Via Napoli kitchen with the one-metre pizza takeaway boxes beneath the counter
Delivering a one-metre pizza
One metre of pizza $60
(iPhone and fork placed deliberately for scale!)
Checking out the upskirt - crisp and smokily charred
Slicing up a half-metre pizza
Polenta and gorgonzola $15
Mix things up with fried polenta ($15) – crunchy planks of gold that are even better dipped into gorgonzola sauce.
Scamorza al forno $12
Scamorza al forno ($12) – smoked mozzarella melted in the woodfired oven draped over with shavings of speck – is also a winner.
Check out the smallgoods fridge too. Staff will assemble your choice of charcuterie, including salamis, prosciutto and melt-in-the-mouth whispers of lardo.
Slicing lardo cured pork fat
Charcuterie plate $20
The tiramisu is so fresh it hadn't quite set when we ordered it at lunchtime, but it's still a deliciously creamy and boozed-up concoction.
Ricotta cake $8
And despite sharing a metre of pizza and more, we order a wedge of ricotta cake and wipe the plate clean.
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Via Napoli Pizzeria
Shop 3, 141 Longueville Road, Lane Cove, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9428 3297
Lunch Thursday to Sunday 12pm-3pm
Dinner Wednesday to Monday 5pm-10pm
This article appeared in the July 2012 issue of Time Out Sydney in my monthly Food & Drink column Eat This! [Read online]
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8/06/2012 02:02:00 a.m.