Unlike a certain fast-food chain, Alfredo’s Pizza is upfront about the recipe it uses to make its fried chicken. Norman Harvey, executive chef of the late-night pizza joint in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, says the key is a blend of cumin, coriander, smoked paprika and fennel seeds, roasted and ground in-house.
It’s part of what makes the popcorn-chicken pizza one of Alfredo’s most well-known menu items. The Sweet Home Alabama features popcorn chicken, barbecue sauce, crispy pancetta and garlic mayo, and Alfredo’s serves more than 500 of them a week.
But Alfredo’s popcorn chicken does have one secret. It features on a special new “off-menu” pizza designed by Harvey. But you won’t find it in-store: it’s only available on Deliveroo.
Called the Boys Don’t Cry, this meat monster puts popcorn chicken with cured bacon, spicy meatballs, mozzarella and barbecue sauce. “Boys Don’t Cry is a merging of two of our most popular pizzas,” says Harvey. “We’ve never been able to take them off the menu.”
The other pizza he’s talking about is the Brown Sugar, featuring meatballs, pancetta, provolone and barbecue sauce. “I like the idea of doing a pizza that people only know about through word of mouth,” says Harvey. “When it’s a ‘secret’ off-menu item, it comes to you by recommendation so you know it’s probably going to be good. It makes it more special.”
It’s the first time Alfredo’s has offered anything off-menu. Open since 2013, this popular pizzeria and bar is part of the Alfred and Constance family, owned by Damian Griffith. It’s one of the city’s few late-night eateries, slicing up the good stuff till the early hours of the morning.
Alfredo’s pizzas are made the traditional way, but Harvey – a subscriber to the “put anything on a pizza” philosophy – is the first to agree there’s nothing traditional about popcorn chicken.
“We follow very traditional Italian methods in terms of the way we prepare the pizza and cook it in the wood-fired oven,” says Harvey. “But we like to incorporate a bit of fun with our toppings.”
Harvey takes inspiration from New York–style pizzas. In fact, Griffith flew Harvey to New York City soon after he started at Alfredo’s to get some ideas for back home.
And here’s something else you may not know: Mr Alfredo is not who he says he is. The grey-haired, singlet-donning Italian gent, whose face stretches over an entire wall inside the restaurant, is the cheeky personality behind Alfredo’s.
But Alfredo is actually Aldo Nicolosi, from the Sydney suburb of Haberfield. Alexander Lotersztain, the designer of the industrial-influenced space at Alfredo’s, met him in a cafe and knew immediately he was the “Mr Alfredo” they’d been looking for.
Mr Alfredo loves “sexy pizza” – he wears the phrase on his singlet and it’s splashed across the wall in neon. Alfredos’ pizzas are named after songs and musicians: aside from the Boys Don’t Cry and Sweet Home Alabama, you can pay your respects with a slice of Pizza Formerly Known as Prince. It’s all about creating conversation around the Alfredo’s experience.
“We live in a social-media world now, and it’s interesting to see how much influence that has on the business,” says Harvey. “Word of mouth is really more important than ever.”
The Boy’s Don’t Cry pizza is no longer available.
This article is presented in partnership with Deliveroo.