Sydney pizza lovers will know Luigi Esposito’s work from Via Napoli, the pizza joints in Surry Hills and Lane Cove. Building a reputation for serving pies true to tradition, Esposito has contributed significantly to Sydney’s maturing pizza scene. Now, after pleasing customers for over a decade with his honest take on Napoli-style pies, Esposito’s taking a trip to the Italian capital. 170 Grammi – on the bright corner where his other spot Pizza Fritta 180 sat (before relocating closer to Surry’s Via Napoli) – is devoted to la tonda Romana, Roman-style pies characterised by a thinner and crispier crust.

“Thanks to us, a lot of the city now orders Neapolitan pizza,” Esposito tells Broadsheet. “I’m proud of what I created, what I received, but there is no option for crispy pizza in the Roman style.”

A Neapolitan himself, Esposito was inspired to open the new place for his wife, a native of Rome who’s been missing the style in Sydney. “I promised her I’d open a Roman pizzeria,” Esposito says. La tonda Romana pizza is based on rounds of thin-stretched dough, from balls that weigh exactly 170 grams – hence the venue’s name. On Crown Street, it’ll be cooked to crunchy perfection in a hand-made woodfired oven – a centrepiece of the 170 Grammi kitchen.

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“With pizza Neapolitana we cook at 450 to 500 degrees [Celsius], with [Romana] we bring it a little bit lower to 260 to 280, maximum 300,” Esposito says. Along with the standards, the crispy crusts will be topped with nods to great Roman dishes – think carbonara, and an amatriciana with guanciale and pecorino.

While the pizza may be in a different style, Esposito’s sticking true to the warm atmosphere that’s kept Via Napoli buzzing over the years. “The pizzeria, for us, isn’t a restaurant,” he says. “It’s very casual, very friendly.” The 60-seat venue will have a long bar inside and tables spilling out onto the sunny corner of Foveaux and Crown streets, extending the friendly vibe to the neighbourhood.

Esposito knows Sydney diners are ready. “When we started, a lot of people thought the pizza was raw,” Esposito says, referring to Neapolitan pizza’s chewy crust. “We educated people, we trained people, we made people understand what Neapolitan pizza was.” All he hopes is that the new restaurant will bring out the most important things in a pizzeria: “Happiness, friendship, great food.”

170 Grammi is due to open at 428 Crown Street, Surry Hills, in mid-May.