Bella Brutta

Jackie McMillan
17th Jun 2023

Despite the minimalist decor, Bella Brutta is warm and convivial, particularly if you find yourself at one of the tables in front of the Italian wood-fire oven. The bearded pizziaolo performs a hypnotising dance, expertly swinging his paddle from prep kitchen to finishing station with the blazing oven in between. The resulting black blistered bases—dubbed “beautiful ugly” in the restaurant name—eat very well. 

Clam pizza ($30) dices sweet surf clams and a tonne of garlic then coats them in fermented chilli. fresh parsley and pecorino to excellent effect. The base is puffy but sits lightly in the stomach, allowing you to precede it with a mountain of creamy Jersey milk cheese—stracciatella ($13)—smeared over thick-cut sourdough ($4/each). Pickled mussels ($15) in chilli oil go nicely on top adding a little zing and tang to all that creamy goodness. I’d probably skip over the kingfish tartare ($10/each) next time: served on Italy’s answer to tostadas, gnocco fritto, they were good but consumed too quickly for the price. They did suit the 2020 Sinapius ‘Jean Maurice’ gamay rosé ($17), the best option I could find from the 10-strong by-the-glass list. Staff have the sass and personality you’d expect from a venture by the experienced restaurateurs of LP’s Quality Meats and Porteno. Make the effort to visit and eat these pizzas in situ: they’re juicy, light and best served piping.