There’s a white-walled building at the end of Lyric Lane, a laneway that runs off Maylands’ busy Eighth Avenue. Save for an old chemist’s sign, its facade is pretty much bare. You think Google Maps has – not for the first time – sent you on a wild goose chase and begin to turn back, but then you spy those telltale naked Edison bulbs through the window. Congratulations. You’re one step closer to some of the city’s best pizza.
Rossonero is the latest tenant in a building that, at various stages in its life, has been home to a chemist, church group and – originally – an automobile garage. It’s the latter that owners Nat Atkins and Fil Pakioufakis have drawn most inspiration from for their four-month-old pizzeria. Polished concrete. Timber accents. Painted brick. It’s an aesthetic that falls that side of stripped-back, but the mood is anything but reserved: certainly on Friday and Saturday nights when the room buzzes with the roar of a great many people having a good time. For Pakioufakis, this lively atmosphere is no accident.
“I wanted to create an environment where everyone could enjoy themselves around the table,” says Pakioufakis. “Friends. Work groups. Couples. Anyone. Pizza lends itself to that. It’s more social because it’s more causal. No one goes in to a pizzeria and expects it to be quiet.”
Despite this being Pakioufakis’s first tilt at running his own place, our man’s CV is dotted with plenty of respected venues. Among his previous ports of call: Clarences, Bivouac, The Brisbane Hotel. Most tellingly, though, is the time he spent with his sister Stephanie Nelkovski at Mount Hawthorn’s lovable Neighbourhood Pizza. From each venue’s fit-out and casual nature, to similar taglines – one is “a Maylands pizza joint”; the other “a Mount Hawthorn pizza joint” – the family resemblance is clear, until you get to the pizza itself.
Whereas Neighbourhood Pizza – like so many pizzerias – serve charry, blistered woodfired pizzas, Rossonero has gone the other way and bakes its pies golden and lightly tanned. Intriguingly, its kitchen is decked out with a conveyor oven – a shiny piece of kit that will be instantly familiar to anyone that’s worked at Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Eagle Boys and any other pizza restaurant with a seven-figure budget for television commercials. Again, this is no coincidence; Pakioufakis cites consistency as the main reason for going with gas rather than logs. Pakioufakis prefers to keep an open-mind when it comes to celebrating the joys of pizza consumption.
“I’m not a snob in the context that one is better than the other,” he says. “It’s horses for courses and there’s space for a variety of pizza. People will gravitate to the style they like.”
As to the secret to Rossonero’s elegant, crisp bases, Pakioufakis is playing his cards close to his chest. All he’s willing to disclose is that he and Pugliese pizzaiolo Luigi De Luca use fresh yeast and the dough is left to slowly rise for a minimum of four days. The result is a light, barely-there base that accentuates rather than dominates the rest of the ingredients.
The names and toppings of the lightly topped pies are best described as “not your nonna’s pizzas”. The tomato-based Glaze of Glory features – among other things – cacciatore, rocket and a balsamic glaze. What do you call a pie with brussels sprouts, pancetta and parmesan? Brussel Crowe, obviously. The current spring menu has a good smattering of vegetarian options and vegan cheese is also available.
The rest of the menu is as sparse as the fit-out. Dessert options begin and end with gelato sandwiches featuring Chicho Gelato between house-made vanilla choc-chip cookies. Tables waiting for guests receive a little tin tumbler of fleshy olives while cut chilli is available on request.
Oh, and the name? The red (rosso) and black (nero) is a subtle nod to Pakioufakis’s sporting team of choice. And no, it’s not the Perth Wildcats or local WAFL team, the Demons.
“I didn’t want to plaster the colours everywhere,” says Pakioufakis, an AC Milan fan all too aware of the taboo associated with a Greek lad publicly supporting an Italian soccer club. “This is the closest I’m going to get to being Italian.”
18 Lyric Lane, Maylands
0411 492 295
Tue to Thu, Sun 5pm–9pm
Fri & Sat 5pm–10pm