A near-death experience in Australia plays a surprising role in the launch of Roberta’s, the much-loved New York pizzeria. When Carlo Mirarchi almost drowned on the NSW coastline, it inspired him to rethink his career path – and galvanised him to help start Roberta’s in Bushwick. In 2007, it opened with such a minimal set-up (there was no gas and staff had to boil water in the wood-fired oven), so the chef often prepped food at home before getting to the restaurant. Despite its lo-fi beginnings, Roberta’s would end up ranked #6 on list of 20 Most Important Restaurants by Bon Appétit and Mirarchi himself was named Best New Chef by Food + Wine.
Roberta’s would also inspire a frozen pizza range, an LA location and, when it was targeted by Pizzagate conspiracy theorists, its team responded in the best way possible: by launching a beer named Pizzagate.
Mirarchi also runs Blanca, an ambitious Michelin-starred restaurant that has been reviewed by Pete Wells twice. The chef talks about what it’s like to be on the other side of a New York Times review, plus: where he’s eaten the best pizza in the world (“it changed my life”), whether pineapple is a legit ingredient on pizza, as well as the origin story behind his collaboration with Lennox Hastie for Firedoor’s fantastic Fireside series last month. For this occasion, Mirarchi brought Roberta’s to Sydney via the Fire & Slice pop-up event, which took place at Firedoor and involved the Gelato Messina crew helping out on tiramisu-making and other duties.
It was so great to chat to Carlo – you can hear us LOL a lot throughout the interview; given that Roberta’s is known for its jokey titles (Cheesus Christ, Lil Stinker, Jon Bon Chovy), perhaps it shouldn’t be suprising that he was so much fun to talk to.
You can listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts or download it via RSS or directly. You can also find it on Stitcher and Google Podcasts nowadays. And a massive tip of the hat to everyone who has left a generous review in Apple Podcasts, Shout-out to Lauren and Claire for kindly listening to this podcast and sharing their back-stories when they visited the Truth, Love and Clean Cutlery stall at Carriageworks.
Portrait of Carlo Mirarchi courtesy of Roberta’s.