The pizza industry has come a long way. Chicken and barbeque sauce dominated, with not a traditional Italian pizza in sight. Then it flipped and pizza shops went ultra-traditional – it was Neapolitan-style and nothing else. Now, we’re in golden age of mixing tradition with innovation (although thankfully barbeque sauce has not made a comeback).
The latest chef to throw their ideas into a wood-fired oven is Luke Powell of Chippendale’s LP’s Quality Meats. The lauded salumi and sausage maker and meat smoker is readying to open a pizzeria, Bella Brutta, with Elvis Abrahanowicz and Joe Valore of Porteño, Continental Deli and more venues in their expanding empire.
“My partner Tania [Houghton] and I have been talking about this for a long time,” says Powell. “We went to the States last July and, with LP's ticking along, we were just like ‘let's do it; we should talk to Joe and Elvis’. As soon we did they were like ‘yeah, we're keen’. Everyone is excited.”
Although Houghton and Powell were clearly inspired by a pizza-gorging tour of the US, we can’t say if the pizzas will be New York-style, or any other style for that matter, because Powell and the team don’t know themselves.
“People have been asking us what style we're doing but because there's all these people involved [designer Sarah Doyle of the Porteño crew is another], there's different preferences for what we like,” says Powell. “I love Neapolitan pizza [but] I also love New York-style pizza. I guess I just want it to be something of our own. We're not sticking to tradition at all, it's whatever tastes good and whatever we all agree on,” he says.
The only things they’re certain about food-wise is the use of a sourdough base and the pizzas being topped with LP’s custom-made salumi. The bar snacks are to-be announced too, with Powell saying they originally wanted it to be a takeaway shop, “but due to the nature [and size] of it, everyone is keen to get involved and get good stuff on the bar.”
The site (where Mad Pizza e Bar once was on King Street in Newtown) is being refitted like a diner-inspired reimagining of LP’s Quality Meats. “It's a long skinny space,” says Powell. “Down one side we'll have the bar and kitchen, and down the other will be one large banquette.”
They’re also working with the green colour palate from the business before. “We've got the epoxy floor done in the kitchen to be a vibrant green. I don't know if that's the best idea, but it looks incredible,” he says.
Bella Brutta is slated to open later this month at 135 King Street, Newtown.