If there’s one thing Brisbane loves, it’s an Italian restaurant. But while there are plenty of options if you’re after a sit-down meal, casual choices are limited. That’s what inspired Simone Presta to open Scugnizzi in the CBD.
Dedicated to Roman-style pizza, Scugnizzi is effectively a bakery. Items are on display in a cabinet, and when a slice is ordered, the pizza is popped in an oven to reheat before serving. It’s a concept found in bakeries throughout Italy, where they typically sell pizza al taglio (pizza by the cut).
“In Italy, it’s very common to go to a local bakery and grab a slice of pizza,” Presta tells Broadsheet. “We [wanted] a place where the display [cabinet] is full of pizza. The customer can point at the slice they want, grab it and go.”
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For Scugnizzi, Presta has partnered with Carmine Guarino. Located on Adelaide Street – next to Noosa Chocolate Factory – the pair have given the former hair salon a lick of bright yellow paint and fitted out the space with a few framed pictures, a clutch of white stools and a red counter. On display are pizzas like truffle and pancetta with mushrooms; salamina (mozzarella, mild salami, olives and stracciatella); and ripiena (filled pizza) with mortadella, pistachio and stracciatella. As soon as a pizza sells out, it’s replaced by a freshly cooked one.
If Scugnizzi’s first week is anything to go by – Presta says they sold around a thousand slices of pizza – this is exactly what the CBD needed. Presta reckons the secret to their pizza is chef Damiano Proietti’s house-made pizza dough with 85 per cent hydration. The high hydration gives the dough lots of air, so when it’s rolled thin and cooked, the dough becomes crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside.
“[Proietti] arrived from Rome three weeks before we opened,” Presta says. “We said, ‘Come in, make a pizza and if you make a good one you’ll get the job’. He made an amazing pizza.”
Beyond pizza, the menu features a large range of pastas that are hand-rolled or extruded in-house. All the pastas are cooked to order, so there’s a slightly longer wait time. The menu includes gnocchi with duck ragu and porcini sauce, tagliatelle with prawns and zucchini, and pappardelle with mushrooms and truffle cream. There are also a couple of fried arancinis, including one filled with saffron rice, salsiccia (Italian sausage) and provola cheese.
In the morning, Scugnizzi runs a short breakfast offering with Fonzie Abbott coffee and a range of pastries from Presta’s other business, Doughcraft, including croissants filled with pistachio or Nutella.