“There’s an old saying the Italians have,” Ben McDonald says. “A man who speaks too much, doesn’t live very long.”
It’s an adage the pizza chef clearly adheres to. From details on optimum pizza cooking temperatures to the particulars of his CV (“two large Italian families in Scarborough” is all he says), McDonald remains tight-lipped. What he is happy to talk about is the fictional Alfred that informs Alfred’s Pizzeria, the upcoming pizzeria and small bar from Michael Cheang of Frisk.
McDonald sees a small-time business man, maybe a wiseguy. Cheang imagines Alfred to be a crime boss from New York who emigrated from Italy with his parents. Both agree he's definitely no snitch.
Hidden away from Barrack Street down a flight of stairs, the pizzeria is home to all of Alfred’s favourite things: pizza, cocktails, and rock’n’roll. The wallpaper features New York Times clippings about the JFK assassination and the crash of Wall Street. Counterfeit money and contraband are hidden in the floors. Gingham tablecloths scream American pizza parlour.
The dough is a blend of flours from around Italy that proves for 48 hours. “We import the flours ourselves and Ben blends them,” Cheang says. In the lead-up to Alfred’s opening, Cheang ate pizza extensively through Rome and Florence and spent time with revered Roman pizzaiolo Gabriele Bonci, of Pizzarium.
Pizzas will cost between $15 and $21 and lean traditional with toppings such as mozzarella, rocket and sliced prosciutto.
Unlike the gin-heavy offering at Frisk, the drinks list at Alfred’s will be more far-reaching and have a focus on good quality, affordable wines. But one thing the bar has splashed out on is good cognac. Hennessy Paradis and Rémy Martin Louis XIII are among the selection. “We literally bought 10 bottles of the most expensive stuff,” Cheang says. “It cost more than my car.”
The rock‘n’roll will be mostly from the ‘80s, although older stuff including The Rolling Stones and some blues will also be played. In short, Alfred’s is well-equipped to show both eaters and drinkers a good time.
“We’ll be the best little secret in town,” McDonald says. “I think the best experience we could have is someone who finds us by accident, comes down here and just has the best night of their life. That’s what we want”.
Alfred’s Pizzeria will open on April 26.
37 Barrack Street, Perth
Sat to Thu 3pm–12am