If the last thing you thought…
Melbourne needed was another pizzeria, you’d be dead wrong. The latest entry from the all-hallowed Verace Pizza Napoletana Association (VPNA for short) sends well-established pizzaiolo Francesco Deni into Melbourne’s inner northern suburb of Thornbury, where authentic Neapolitan wood-fired pies are the order of the day. Officially opening next week, the methodology is simple: Strict 90 second cook times in the almost 500 degree stone oven allows a pizza to be constructed thin and crispy, with the sort of bubbled, charred crust that only this method can achieve.
The menu, a tightly focused affair that eliminates the irrelevance and instead draws your attention to the pizzas, obviously, and some antipasti and dessert at either end remind you of what it is you are there for. The pizzas? Well, with over 20 to select from there is sure to be one for you.
The stone oven was Naples built, and shipped over in its entirety – with handy wheels on the bottom so that when Frank eventually expands to keep up with demand, he can simply relocate it.
The pizzas range from classic rosso, to sauce-less bianco with each different type combining proven flavours to create pieces of art.
Above, a simple tomato, cheese and pancetta pie omits the superfluous and instead delivers the delicious.
Asymmetric pizza’s are purposely cut to prove you don’t need to be a surgeon. Perfectly charred and risen crusts pay homage to the quality, highly secretive dough recipe.
While many establishments all claim the ‘Authentic Neapolitan Pizza’ credo, none quite do it with the degree of execution, the panache if you will, and of course the flair that ‘Frank’ brings to the table (pardon the pun). With over 2 decades of experience under his belt, including stints at the famed 400 Gradi in Carlton, I caught up with Frank ahead of the venue’s official opening to get the low-down on what he hopes to achieve with his new venture.
You’ve been in the pizza game for 22 years now. Why pizza?
“Due to a family breakup at a young age, my mother was left with very little money. She leased a store so that we could all have a job, eat and we learnt the industry as we went. This is where I discovered my passion for the creation of pizza.”
What do you think is the biggest mistake you see in a lot of restaurants with their pizza?
“Quantity, not quality. Too many restaurants try to load a pizza up with toppings in order to gain the most flavour possible. In actual case, if you use quality ingredients, less is best.”
What is your main goal for Il Pizzaiolo?
“To pass on the taste of the authentic ingredients while promoting my passion for making pizza.”
Il Pizzaiolo, without a shadow of doubt is Melbourne’s new king of Neapolitan pizza. It serves up the most decadent, flavoursome and authentic Italian pizzas that Melbourne has yet seen. The only negative is the small size of the operation, which just means you better get in before word gets out and the droves descend on it.
Il Pizzaiolo opens October 2nd.
163 Darebin Rd, Thornbury VIC 3071