“Pinsa is where pizza comes from,” says David Ruggiero, co-owner and chef behind Brisbane’s newest Italian restaurant, La Pinsa, located in Paddington on the corner of Primrose and Kennedy Terrace.
A Roman flatbread with ancient origins, pinsa (from the Latin pinsere, to stretch) is a peasant street food that has found its way back onto menus in Italy and is having a moment as far away as Brooklyn’s ultra-hip food scene.
The idea for La Pinsa was born after an extended holiday in Ruggiero’s home city of Rome, where he couldn’t help noticing the revival of “the pinseria”. Upon returning to Australia, he quickly trademarked his restaurant name. “La Pinsa is a name that can grow,” he says. “I want to create a brand.”
The difference between pinsa and pizza is in the base. Pinsa is made with a multigrain flour mix (at La Pinsa it’s a secret blend of soy, rice and organic wheat flours) that’s highly hydrated, fermented for between 36 and 72 hours, then baked in an imported Moretti Forni oven. “I didn’t know if it could even fit in this kitchen,” Ruggiero says. It produces a crust that is lighter and crispier than, say, a Neapolitan-style pizza.
Toppings at La Pinsa include gamberi, alici and capperi (prawns, anchovies and capers); zucchini and pancetta; and fiche and caprino (fig and goat’s cheese). As well as pinsa, there’s bruschetta, pasta and traditional desserts such as tiramisu. The restaurant is currently BYO (pending ironing out its liquor licence) but will be serving both tap beer and independent wines from Italy.
The venue itself stands out in a way that goes beyond its bright, warm trattoria-style décor (rustic yellow walls, flashes of red, Colosseum paintings, grapevine trellis). With its uncomplicated atmosphere and al fresco dining, it’s the kind of neighbourhood restaurant anyone would be happy to have nearby.
Ruggiero marvels at how much Brisbane’s food scene has evolved since his arrival last decade. “[Back then] the knowledge of Italian cuisine was very basic,” he says. “Gnocchi with cream, spaghetti with meatballs, chicken parmigiana. If my grandma heard something like that she would like scream out loud.”
139 Kennedy Terrace, Paddington
(07) 3191 3621
Mon to Fri 5.30pm–9.30pm
Sat & Sun 12pm–10pm