Each of the three partners behind Mount Hawthorn wine bar Casa has his own definition of “great pizza”.
Alex Cuccovia has a soft spot for bianco pizzas, such as the clam number he served at Beaufort Street’s dearly departed Ace Pizza. Cale Mason, designer and caretaker of the bar’s wine list, keeps it classic and “very, very rarely” strays beyond a margherita or a marinara, the cheese-less Naples classic made with tomato, garlic and tomato. Paul Bentley, Casa’s chef, shares Mason’s love of simplicity, but also admits that the lure of pineapple on pizza is something he finds hard to resist when eating out. (And, it would seem, in the kitchen: a special Bentley dreamed up at Si Paradiso featuring pineapple chutney, mortadella and ‘nduja is one of your correspondent’s favourite ham-and-pineapple-adjacent memories.)
“I’m a bogan at heart,” laughs Bentley.
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Between their pizza credentials and Italian travel experiences, team Casa has an excellent set of resources to draw on when they unveil Casa Pizza Wine this winter, the bar’s takeaway pizza offshoot. Hiding in plain sight on Oxford Street, next door to Casa – regulars may have noticed wine boxes slowly taking over the shop’s window – Casa Pizza Wine will help realise some of the owners’ original plans for their neighbourhood spot.
“This was meant to be a provedore of sorts, but it just evolved into something else very quickly,” says Mason. “We thought that if we did an extension of the [concept] next door, it would help fulfil that vision.”
Powering the kitchen will be a twin-deck Moretti Forni oven, a souped-up version of the same stone-based oven that gives the pizza at Si Paradiso its crisp, puffy base. But whereas the Si Paradiso pizza – like most Naples-inspired pizza – is designed for eat-now enjoyment pretty much immediately out of the oven, the takeaway-friendly Casa Pizza Wine version will be sturdier and hardier – designed to survive a car ride between the pizzeria and home. The pizzas will also sport a more international flavour than the Italian-leaning ones served at Si.
“We understand that there’s a bit of pizza in this zone, but we'd like to think our version will be different to what’s already available,” says Mason.
Casa Pizza Wine, once it’s fully operational, certainly won’t be your garden-variety pizza joint. While the shop will initially operate as just a takeaway shop, management hopes the finished outfit will be a standalone destination, as well as an overflow spot for those waiting for a seat at the mothership. A communal table will allow guests to enjoy their pizza (and wine) in situ, while the range of take-home goods will grow to include house-made pasta and focaccia, oysters, plus other wine-friendly snacks that can be taken away or delivered.
In preparation for Casa Pizza Wine’s opening, the team is hosting chefs Zackary Leon Furst and Casey Wall from popular Melbourne pizzeria and red-sauce emporium Capitano for a one-night pizza pop-up on Monday May 29. The duo will prepare some of their famous deep-pan “squares” of pizza alongside more traditional round pies, before cooking at another (ticketed) pop-up on Tuesday May 30.
Casa Pizza Wine (397 Oxford Street, Mount Hawthorn) is slated to open in July.