Andrea De Luca started making pizza in his hometown of Milan at 17. He moved to Australia in 2011 and became pizzaiolo at Zanini in Elwood, owned by Gabriele Rossi and Maurizio Speranza.
Now 29, De Luca has teamed up with Rossi and Speranza to open a second Zanini in St Kilda East. “[We wanted] to bring something … simple and traditional to the bayside area,” he says.
Adrian Genobile, who met the trio as a supplier Italian goods (such as olive oil, flour and San Daniele prosciutto) to the Elwood restaurant, is also co-owner of the new location.
“They were my very first customer,” Genobile says. “They were always happy … great people really.”
De Luca’s kitchen efficiently turns out plates of fettucine bolognaise and spaghetti carbonara, working with traditional Italian recipes “directly from our nonnas”. The menu spans the northern Italian alps to Tuscany, Rome, and Sicily. You’ll find Milanese-style veal schnitzel, Sicilian arancini, friarielli (rapini) sautéed with garlic and chilli oil (which De Luca says is close to how it's done in Naples), and a classic Roman cacio e pepe (cheese and pepper) with home-made tagliolini pasta.
Dough for Zanini’s pizza is fermented for at least 48 hours, made using Petra L’Unica soft wheat flour. De Luca says that unlike 00 flour, this flour is less refined and has more fibre, so it’s easier to digest. Classics include margherita and focaccia al’aglio (garlic), alongside an oozy burrata pizza with San Marzano tomatoes and rocket. A pesto pie comes with smoked scamorza, and for sides, there are truffle fries, green beans and fennel, and a few salads to choose from.
For dessert, there’s deep-fried pizza dough pieces covered in Nutella, and a light panna cotta topped with bitter chinotto syrup. Drinks-wise, there’s shiraz, sangiovese, pinot grigio and rosé on tap, plus Birra Baracca Italian lager and Aperol spritzes.
Studio Lancini designed the light, contemporary space with many features mirroring the Elwood restaurant, such as exposed brick and white subway tiles. A large, blond-wood round table is strategically placed for communal dining (“We wanted to be able to gather people together … like at nonna’s house,” Genobile says). Marble benchtops and the glow of a neon “You wanna pizza me?” sign lend a modern edge to the Inkerman Street space.