Here’s one way you might like to have a good time this summer. Set course for Cottesloe Beach, go for a swim, then towel off and walk up to Marine Parade. Find Canteen Pizza and settle in for the day. An inviting haven of white walls and furniture; blond timber; and polished concrete, the new pizzeria from the Il Lido crew has been built for maximum fun in the sun. And volume.
“We wanted it pretty loud,” admits partner Lyndon Waples about the room’s lively spirit. “It can get a little obnoxious, but I kind of like that about it. We were going for that cool 1950s beachside pizza den meets today’s era.”
While much of the interest in Canteen Pizza has revolved around its namesake, picky eaters could make a strong argument for the co-stars showing-up the headliner, at least this early in the piece. The $25 market fish, for starters, might just be the biggest bargain on the western seaboard. The night I take it for a spin, the kitchen is serving whole blue-spot emperor, the fish’s flesh succulent within and golden without. Then there’s the porchetta (wood-roasted pork), another study in crisp-skinned, juicy-fleshed deliciousness. Porky salvation is dished out in portions for one, two or four and – during lunch hours – as a porchetta “panini” with pieces of pig tucked into a pita pocket-like bun made with the same dough as the pizza.
So about those pies. Fashioned out of long-fermented dough, these malleable Naples-style specimens are a welcome addition to the Perth pizza scene. Once the kitchen starts pushing them out with a little more consistency, Canteen should start climbing the ranks. One visit the base erred on the tough side of chewy: on another, the middle of my margherita was wet and under-cooked on account of a heavy hand with toppings. The toothsome dough, though, is delicious enough to eat as is. And the kitchen has stocked its pizza bench with care: the buffalo mozzarella is a DOP cheese (basically a guarantee of deliciousness from the Italian government) imported from Campania. Sydney cheesemakers par excellence Vannella make the fior di latte, the cow’s-milk equivalent of the mozzarella. Considering talented pizzaiolo Ettore Bertonati (SPQR in Melbourne, Pizzateca in Adelaide) is overseeing things, I’m confident it’s a case of when the kitchen finds its rhythm rather than if.
Although fresh-cut chilli is available on demand, you don’t need to look any further than the bottle of chilli oil on your table. It’s a cooked, slow-burning oil made with dried bird’s eye chillies, and is closer to an Asian XO sauce then the fresher chilli oils found at most pizzerias. It also plays as nicely with pizza as it does with the fish, pork and we suspect anything else you care to throw at it.
Tying everything together is a thrilling wine list assembled by venue manager Mark Rutter. Like he writes on the back of the single-sided A4 page: “This list is dedicated to little people doing big things.” So, expect plenty of low-intervention (read: “natural”) wines from Australia and Italy, served by the bottle, half-litre, glass (150 millilitres) and smaller, designated-driver-appropriate 100-millilitre pour.