The margherita is the standard by which any pizza outlet can be judged. You can call it boring, the missionary position of pizza, whatever, but with the margherita there’s nowhere to hide. That’s why it’s my go-to. And as I browsed the menu inside Forno Antico, an unassuming pizzeria on the edge of an industrial area in Hamilton Hill, there was no question in my mind what I was going to order.

It was my first time at Forno Antico. I was accompanied by my Italian girlfriend, Giovanna, who insisted this spot was as close to the real thing as you could get this side of the Mediterranean.

Even on a Tuesday night the restaurant was full. We were redirected to the car park and while we waited for a table I nipped next door into the sticky-floored tavern to grab some BYO beer – because apparently only Australians drink wine with pizza.

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Giovanna pointed out that most of the patrons were Italian. There’s the mother with the vintage, logoless Bottega handbag and thick Roman accent; the family drinking espresso after their meal; the man in the linen shirt gesticulating and roaring with laughter as he pays the bill. Always a good sign.

We watched the pizza come from the open kitchen, with its large, central woodfired oven decorated in mosaic tiles. The first thing I noticed was the smell: pure, tomatoey goodness wafting in thick, hazy curls.

The margherita comes with just the right amount of tomato sauce: not so thin you can’t taste it, nor too thick it drowns the tastebuds in a lake of lycopene. Cheese is dusted over the top like a fresh layer of snowfall, and the basil is crisp and fresh with no signs of wilting or scorching.

The real test of quality comes at the crust. On the outside, smoky woodfired flavours are imprinted with the occasional, delightful scorch mark. Inside it’s soft, fluffy and beautifully honeycombed.

The first bite is the perfect temperature, and the pizza remains so for the duration of the meal.

If a margherita forms the basis of any pizza menu, Forno Antico’s foundation is solid. I can guarantee you, I’ll be back again and again.