Enrico Sgarbossa is determined to make his pizzas different. “This is gourmet pizza. It's the first in Sydney,” he says. What he means is that the pizza at Pizza al Taglio is not defined by regionality or tradition, but is playful with toppings.
The “first in Sydney” is a bit of a stretch; other chefs (check out the Dolphin Hotel) are breaking regional rules. But Pizza al Taglio is definitely different. There are pizzas with pureed pea, cream-like buffalo cheese and smoked turkey; creamed cannellini beans, tofu, cauliflower, pumpkin puree and black sesame; and slow-cooked lamb, ricotta and mint. “I find it boring in Australia, it's always the same thing. On pizza you can put everything, you just need the skill to make it,” says Sgarbossa.
It’s the pizza base that is most remarkable. Sgarbossa’s other job is flour technician for Molino Dellagiovanna (an Italian flour brand). He’s spent the past few years teaching other chefs how to make pizza dough, and has placed in several international pizza competitions (including gold in Giro Pizza d’Europa in 2014).
For Pizza al Taglio he’s created two kinds of dough. For the takeaway lunch slices Sgarbossa uses a hybridised barley and semolina flour. For the full pizzas he serves at dinner it’s a type-one Italian wheat flour similar to wholemeal in roughness. That’s combined with Sgarbossa’s biga (a pre-fermented baker’s yeast starter), proved for 24 to 48 hours and baked in the high-tech electric oven. The product is incredibly refined – soft, light and slightly crunchy at the base and at the very edge of the crust.
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As you might expect, the dough master is handy with a few other Italian baked goods, most notably his perfectly soft and crisp focaccia, and his cloud-like savoury bignè (profiterole-like baked puffs). There’s also a small list of organic wines and beer from Italian craft brewer Labi and Sydney Brewery. “This is my [first] pizzeria, so I can do it how I like, and that's organic, fresh and high quality,” he says.