The CBD’s Lalla Rookh, Perth’s high-water mark for Italian cuisine, has opened a pizza bar specialising in charred pizze and Italian street food.
A four-week pop-up that’s been opened as part of Eat Drink Perth, the Lalla Pizza Bar is next to the dining room and offers a more casual take on the restaurant’s northern Italian cuisine.
“It’s about having a little bit more fun,” says head chef Joel Valvasori-Pereza. “As the food in the dining room has gotten a little more serious, there’s now an opening for a simpler Italian food offering through the venue.”
Of course, being one of the city’s more exacting Italian chefs, Valvasori-Pereza has a different concept of “simple” to most. The dough, for example, is aged for four days to develop its flavour. Rather than simply rolling out the bases, chefs push out the dough to form a raised crust that puffs and blackens wonderfully inside the high-temperature electric oven. Once baked, pies are served with a pizza cutter rather than sliced in the kitchen to ensure each pizza remains crisp for as long as possible.
As far as toppings go, pizza chef Alberto Gilardi-Nadin prescribes to the less-is-more maxim. None of the nine pizzas have more than four ingredients with margherita (tomato, mozzarella and basil) and bianca (olive oil, sea salt and rosemary) among the standards offered. Whereas pizza marinara might conjure images of seafood, Lalla Rookh’s version is a traditional Neapolitan sailor-style – alla marinara – pie of oregano, garlic and olive oil on a tomato sugo base.
Not that Lalla Rookh is chained to the past. Smoked scamorza cheese with pork sausage, broccoli and chilli denote the Smoke the Sausage pie as a contemporary creation. The gamberi (king prawns, smoked pancetta and onion) is inspired by the shrimp and bacon number served at Chelsea Pizza, owned by Valvasori-Pereza’s stepfather.
And what of that other modern masterpiece, the wondrous combination of prosciutto e ananas (ham and pineapple)?
“You may see it on the next menu reprint,” Valvasori-Pereza says, laughing.
Lalla Pizza Bar runs until April 12, 2016. The Lalla Pizza Bar menu is available from 11.30am till 10pm in the pizza bar and courtyard.