Al Taglio

Carl Screwvala
30th Aug 2016

It is with intrigue that we entered Al Taglio, a humble little pizza restaurant in Surry Hills. A scattered mix of bright colour, unobtrusive art and small tables, it almost has the feel of a cafe. A big serving counter narrows the entry as you walk in, a large fridge sits in the corner with a big pile of flour bags; it is all out on show, but not for show. Inspired by legendary Italian chef Massimo Bottura's philosophy of sustainability, much of the table fittings are recycled or re-purposed. All is humble and non-showy, and yet Al Taglio is the creation of one of Sydney pizza's prized assets - Enrico Sgarbossa.

Having started as a pizza chef in Bassano Del Grappa in Northern Italy, he fed his passion for quality ingredients by studying to become a flour technician for leading Italian flour mill Molino dalla Giovanna. Essentially the mill's 'pizza master', Enrico has traveled the world (including some of Sydney's finest pizzerias as his clients) consulting on how to use the right flour for the job, and get the best out of it. As if single handedly wrenching Sydney pizza standards up wasn't enough, he is also a pizza award winner - placing among the top slots at the Giro Pizza di Europe competition, including winning outright in 2014. Having shown the rest how to do it, when Al Taglio first opened under different owners and stalled, he finally plucked up the courage to take the reigns and open on his own.

Enrico has put all his love and art into Al Taglio, and what emerges is not what you might imagine - simply a best in class of the traditional pizza you might know and love - but rather something new altogether. Utilising a cereal called tritordeum, which is naturally lower in gluten, and patiently proved for a longer time (24 to 48 hours) to allow the yeast to fully react, the experience is quite unlike most other pizza I have eaten. The dough is crisp and wholemeal in texture, and does not keep expanding in your stomach to bloat you out into the classic post pizza coma (delightful though that is). This is combined with his passion for the freshest ingredients (they literally have no freezer), and a determination stretch beyond the staple pizza recipes, all the while keeping it simple.

Tonight we start with a sharing board of beautifully textured focaccia all’olio, served with assorted meats: mortadella - salami - turkey side, and these melt in the mouth savoury profiterole-style puffs called bignè, stuffed with spinach and ricotta.

For the pizza we go for one of Enrico's fresh creations - Risi e Bisi: brown rice cream base, peas and crunchy bacon. It tasted completely original without novelty (like other fusion establishments can often come across as), with the creamy base soft and rich, yet the 'clean' dough base making it feel wholesome: like fresh bread shared among family.

To ensure we had benchmark, we also had a Quattro Formaggi - mozzarella, ricotta, smoke mozzarella, provola, rounded off with truffle. Again, rather than the smorgasbord of cheese wiping you out (see Argentinian pizza for that), it was light and tastefully applied, with the truffle - as ever - a heavenly godsend.

Rounding off the night was a delightfully light tiramisu (we shared but could have slammed one each without breaking a sweat) and homemade softly sweet lemoncello to settle the meal down.

We drank an organic Shiraz that was tasty if a little acidic, but also sampled a deliciously smooth dark beer from Italian craft brewer Labi that Al Taglio stocks full range of, complete with tasting notes.

The true achievement of this all is that through sheer passion and craft in the dough making, and a commitment to organic and fresh ingredients, Al Taglio has achieved the impossible. To make a pizza meal feel like a healthy night out. It may be that to some (myself included), the pizza experience is in itself a doughy oily experience to be cherished, and that is not what you will find here. But to go out for delicious pizza and yet feel healthy is an experience unto itself, and not to be missed.

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102 - 104 Albion Street
Surry Hills

Tues – Sat 11.45am – 2.30pm 5pm – 9.30pm
Sun 4pm – 9.30pm