The Dolphin Hotel’s new head pizzaiolo, Sasha Smiljanic, has one benchmark for success: a clean plate. “My goal with our pizzas is that people don’t leave any crusts behind,” he tells Broadsheet. “We do a long fermentation process with our dough, which makes a nice puffy crust that’s light and easy to digest.”
Delfino Pizzeria is the latest offering at Crown Street classic The Dolphin Hotel. There’s a new Mesiano wood oven burning ironbark from the Blue Mountains, and Smiljanic joins executive chef Danny Corbett from Newtown’s highly rated pizza spot Bella Brutta.
“The (old) pizza oven has gone to the gods,” owner Brett Robinson says on The Dolphin website. “After eight years and thousands of delicious pizzas, it needed a replacement … so we sought out the best in the business, and that’s how we found Sasha.”
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While most of the ingredients are Australian – from the double pepperoni and buffalo mozzarella on the peperoni di bufala, to the eggplant, ricotta and olives on the caponata – there are a few exceptions. San Marzano tomatoes, anchovies and what the menu dubs “proper parmesan” are imported from Italy, as are the flours used in the deceptively simple base.
Making the base is a lengthy process which takes between 72 and 90 hours. “We start with a biga [starter] which is mixed with water and rested for 24 hours,” Smiljanic explains. “Then we make the dough using a combination of two Italian flours – tipo 1 stone-ground and high-protein 0 flour. That rests in cold fermentation for another 24 hours. Then we make the pizza balls and they go back in the fridge. Finally the dough rests outside for five to seven hours until it’s increased in size and it goes back in the fridge for another 24 hours.”
Toppings are kept to a minimum so the individual flavours can shine. The classic margherita comes with sweet tomatoes, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil and mozzarella finished with shavings of parmesan. But not every pie is strictly classic – Smiljanic says his time at Bella Brutta opened his eyes to the possibilities of pizza.
More adventurous picks include the patate e formaggio, with smoked scamorza, pecorino, garlic, sage, roast potatoes and pancetta on a white base, and the mari e monti – the Delfino’s version of surf and turf – including king prawns, pancetta, XO sauce, and fermented chilli with tomato and mozzarella.
Delfino Pizzeria at The Dolphin Hotel