In Italy, pizza comes in two distinct categories: Italian pizza and pizza from the rest of the world. Cue the Melbourne Pizza Festival. Spanning three weeks, this event is a celebration of authentic Italian pizza right in our own backyard. It’s the brainchild of Calabrian native Matteo Rubbettino, who was working as a food journalist for SBS when he picked up on the sheer number of talented locals in Australia who could toss the dough just so. Deciding he wanted to showcase their skills to even more palates and “reduce the confusion” about what constitutes a veritable Italian pizza, Rubbettino founded Melbourne’s first Pizza Festival last year, firing up the varying styles our city has to offer.
Featuring one of 13 different restaurants each night (including Supermaxi, Ladro, Pizza Farro, 400 Gradi, Cantina Centrale, Feldmans, Pizza e Birra, Firechief and Pinocchio) the festival allows attendants to enjoy some of the best pizza in the city and an accompanying drink (alcoholic or non) for a mere $20, or three restaurants for $50. Serving up a combination of regional Napoletana, Romana and Italiana wood-fired pizza, it is worth noting that the Pizza Napoletana these restaurants are dishing up has been accredited by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN). This is a non-profit organisation of pizzaioli (traditional pizza makers) that helped to make the law in Naples specifying exactly what constitutes a real Neapolitan pizza.
So what is it that makes a perfect pizza? Rubbettino puts it down to the dough. He insists that how you feel ten minutes after eating the pizza – not too heavy – should let you know whether the dough was the real deal or not. With a closing event featuring all the pizza makers at the Rose St Markets on the afternoon of June 30, you can put these pizzas to the test yourself.
The Melbourne Pizza Festival runs from June 11 to June 30. For a list of participating restaurants, click here.