Fun as it may sound, compiling this pizza list really was an odious task. As a result of the testing, there were nights of waking up at 3am with indigestion from stodgy pizza bases and fatty cheese, there were disregarded side salads with wilted yellow leaves or no dressing, and then to top things off there were even sleazy waiters to contend with. Yet, we broke through all the rubble to discover that with the bad and the ugly (and yep there was a bit of that) there was also lots of good, very good.
The pizzas that made our best five, have traditional thin bases using long fermentations, show consideration for the source of flour and other ingredients, offer traditional toppings, or sometimes contemporary creativity, and the pizzas (the plural is pizze in Italian FYI) are cooked by fire. Most importantly, they all taste bloody delicious!
So. Forget asking for pineapple on a pizza, forget the half and half. We've done the leg work for you, so that you know what to order and where to go:
So, let's start at the beginning, with the all important base. PizzaPerta’s dough is made from unrefined stoneground Molino Quaglia ‘Petra’ flours imported from Italy. The dough is matured and leavened naturally for a minimum of 24 hours using a classic biga method, which makes it easier to digest. The resultant base has also got a bit of oomph, it's light, sure, but also has a surprisingly complex depth of flavour. The toppings use the best ingredients - such as Fior Di Latte Mozzarella - and pizzas change seasonally. The classic choice of topping is the best of breed Margherita. We're over the moon that favourite, the satisfying yet refreshing Prawn, Zucchini and Mint is a PizzaPerta signature, so thankfully a menu constant. An asparagus pizza is only offered when in season. Others stay on the menu, but toppings are updated.
The pizza box (that breaks into individual cardboard plates) is pretty darn cute too, and apparently it's not just a pretty face, it's biodegradable.
One tip: make sure to leave room, if you can, to cuddle up for a Nutella Pillow of Dreams, as the name suggests, an enclosed square pizza pillow of dessert, that pulls apart in four pieces.
An even better tip: Go soon. (Dine in or take away.)
Ground Floor, 80 Pirrama Road, Pyrmont +61 2 9777 9000
Francesco Spataro pulls together an incredible pizza. It's so incredible it was listed No. 30 in the world and the only Australian pizza in an international line-up, by the True Neapolitan Pizza Association. Back to basics, again quality comes down to the selection of the best flour and ingredients - Spataro choose garofalo bufala freshly imported by plane from Campania Italy - and the leavening technique. Spataro uses doppio zero La 5 Stagioni flour. For the topping Spataro says "simplicity or a good and simple match is the key..." He suggests trying two pizzas. "The true test is the Margherita." Then he says, move into something catching, like a particular cheese or a combination of ingredients...
163 Norton Street, Leichhardt +61 2 9564 0003
If you're into pizza, it's worth a trip to the The Shire for these traditional Neapolitan treats, made with care and the best ingredients. We loved that the menu is divided into red (with crushed San Marzano tomatoes DOP) and white (with no tomato) as we tend to balance with at least one of each type when we're eating out with a group of friends. Recommended: Ragu e Ricotta, Beef & pork ragu, fresh ricotta & basil; Salsiccia e Rapini, Fior di latte, pork & fennel sausage & broccoli; (and always our first choice) Marinara (no cheese), Tomato, olive oil, oregano & garlic.
Shop 9, 2-8 Surf Road Cronulla +61 2 9527 4992
The outdoor courtyard setting and the white table cloths lift this pizza pick, just a bit higher and into romance territory. The service is terrific, caring and unhurried, even though Lucio's is busy. It's best to get there early to avoid a wait even early in the week (as they don't take bookings). The pizzas speak for themselves; there's always a take away queue. Crisp yet melt in your mouth base, with tasty toppings, our pick (as well as the signature scoop Marinara) is white: potato with truffles. It kind of goes with the territory, the all white restaurant design. Delicious, and a bit schmick. This is the pizza place for date night!
248 Palmer Street, Darlinghurst +61 2 9332 3766
Established in the Kellett Street hey day of the '80s, and enjoying the current Kellett Street revival, the Kings Cross terrace courtyard of Caffe Roma has been serving late night pizzas for close to thirty years. Try vegetarian Capricciosa, Tomato mozzarella seasonal roasted vegetables; Napoletana, Tomato anchovies fresh garlic olives and oregano; or Pizza Tonno Cipola, Tomato mozzarella tuna onion and basil. The service can be a little slow if owner Danilo Tozzi is not around, but don't let that bother you. Enjoy your drink and once you've ordered, the pizza arrives, on its stand, quickly enough.
9 Kellett Street, Potts Point +61 2 9358 3578
If you are after a night of entertainment, you might be up for the award winning Sydney Food Bloggers pizza pick. Via Napoli Pizzeria (Lane Cove and Hunters Hill) is boisterous and fun, with loud music and lots of hand clapping and 1/2 metre and 1 metre long pizzas.