Don’t expect a carb blowout at PizzAperta
, Stefano Manfredi’s
new pizzeria at The Star
in Pyrmont. You’ll notice that the bases aren’t just impenetrable banks of dough, but rather a light and springy support system for the smart, measured toppings that power each slice.
Manfredi has made a big talking point about the flour he’s using
– stone-ground ‘Petra’ flour from Padova’s Molina Quaglia
mill – and a long fermentation process that he believes leads to a more easily digestible
product, not one that gets beached in your stomach for hours on end.
This focus on a lighter pizza leaves us all in a good bargaining position; instead of being wrecked by gluggy, overdense offerings, this airier approach means that we can all try way more than the usual tally. PizzAperta’s selection works on the assumption you can handle one pizza per person – making it a nice contrast to the times you’ve had to get knee-deep in painful negotiations over half-and-half portions in a group situation, or settling for common-denominator toppings that you maybe didn’t really want in the first place.
And while PizzAperta has some serious intel on the best way to make pizza (Manfredi’s secret weapon is Antonio Pappalardo, a leading pizzaiolo from Naples, who is helping him launch this establishment), this place also marks itself as a pretty casual eatery. It’s located on the harbourside entry to The Star (on Pirrama Road), on the ground level, near the cab rank. It’s open-air and laidback, with pizzas being served inside their boxes. Don’t expect anything as five-star or fancy as actual plates. I actually dig the relaxed and informal feel. You just overtake one of the outdoor tables with your friends, spread out your boxes like you’re at some slumber party, and switch take-out containers around when you want to try something different.
The menu is split into ‘Traditional & Classic’ (think Margherita; Quatro Formaggi; Potato Rosemary & Gorgonzola Piccante), ‘Seasonal & New Wave’ (Prawns, Zucchini & Mint; Artichoke, Buffalo Ricotta & Fennel Sausage), and Roman ‘Teglia’ Style (square, foccacia-like pizzas, such as Calamari & Rocket; Prosciutto, Burrata and Eggplant).
Will, Tom, Adele and I ended up getting the Hot Calabrese (cherry tomato quarters, thin mushroom slices, a good melty glug of provola, and fiery mouthfuls of ‘nduja sausage), Lamb Belly (slow-cooked, and scattered with Mediterranean herbs, tomato wedges, and a round of ricotta), Grilled Vegetables (slices of zucchini, eggplant, capsicum, tomato and onion – given a little kick from a light sprinkling of herbs, while all the mozzarella crash-landing on the base adds a creamy heft), and Asparagus & Parmesan (the asparagus spears and slices and tomato ‘fillets’ produce a snappy counterpoint to the rich shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano and good blanketing of mozzarella). It was all excellent – light enough you could blitz through slice after slice, but not so airy and unsubstantial that you felt like you made barely any headway into your hunger levels.
Oh, and if you’re not already carbed out, the rosemary and sea salt Focaccia Fingers ($10 for 4) are a nice upgrade from the default garlic bread option you might find on other pizzeria menus.
One downside to the casual, open-air set-up, though. If you are a bit of a slow eater like me, everything gets cold a lot quicker eating out of pizza boxes than if you had warm plates to slow down the fading heat. Also, this part of The Star can get a little wind-tunnel-y, which isn’t gonna keep your slices toasty, either. But, if you’re lucky enough to get the weather on your side, then this isn’t much of a problem. (Also, PizzAperta has a focus on takeaway, so you can just rock up, order, and swoop home with some hot boxes under your arm.)
As for dessert, the Roasted Peach with vanilla ice-cream and sour cherry ($7.50) doesn’t quite compete with Gelato Messina (which is only one escalator trip and a few brisk footsteps away) – the intensely sweet fruit is wonderful, but the vanilla scoop tastes a little too frozen. Do get the Tiramisu ($7.50) – easing your spoon through the cocoa-sprinkled layers of mascarpone and espresso-soaked biscuits and excavating all these elements is a damn delicious exercise.
PizzAperta is a way more casual spin-off to Manfredi’s slick Balla operation upstairs, and its charms are straightforward and wonderfully obvious. It seems like one of the few places where eating in a group is not a drag, but a real delight. Just don’t be a slowcoach like me and let your pizza get too cold.
Pizzaperta, The Star Sydney, Harbourside Ground Floor, 80 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont NSW (02) 9777 9000, www.star.com.au. Follow Pizzaperta on Facebook and Instagram.
, The Star