Broadsheet is in Il Bacio’s kitchen for a lesson and, although he’s smiling widely, you can tell pizzaiolo (pizza maker) Alessandro Sciamanna isn’t entirely happy letting someone else make his pizza. I’m not shaping the base right; not spooning the sauce with the correct flourish; my cheese sprinkling is too concentrated in the centre of the pie.

Sciamanna’s drive to complete each step precisely makes sense. In a simple dish like one of Il Bacio’s modestly topped, delicious pizzas, every detail needs to stand out.

The base is the key to an excellent pizza. “We make sourdough, and you need to start at least three days in advance,” says Sciamanna. “Two days to feed the biga [the sourdough starter] and then at least one day to make the dough.”

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The result of Sciamanna’s process is a hybrid of Roman and Neapolitan styles: crisp, chewy, tart and something you want to devour in minutes.

The lesson is over and Sciamanna takes the reins. His deft hands quickly coax the round of dough wider without squashing the air from the outer border. As it gets closer to the right size, he lifts it and spins it a few times before placing it back on the counter, ready for Italian tomatoes and toppings such as pork sausage or grilled eggplant and a handful of mozzarella – made in Australia from imported Italian buffalo milk – to be added.

He holds up a freshly baked slice; it’s poker straight. “When you pick it up, it should hold its crisp so you don’t lose any toppings. Maybe yours won’t be quite like this,” he says, laughing.

Il Bacio isn’t just a pizza joint – its pasta game is strong too. Although the venue is on the casual side, executive chef Jason McCauley brings an element of fine dining to the dishes, drawing on his time at (long-gone and lauded) Banc and a stint on TV show Masterchef. The squid-ink pasta, for example, is tossed with ’nduja (chilli-infused spreadable salami) and roasted tomatoes, and is twisted into a dramatic shiny black tower. “It’s my signature,” he says.

Il Bacio incorporates elements of Asian and modern Australian cuisines. The corn cakes available at breakfast are served with the Thai dipping sauce nam jim, a balance of sweet, salty, sour and spicy flavours. And the house-made duck ravioli comes in a dashi broth – an umami-rich Japanese stock made from bonito fish flakes.

Fratelli Fresh recently opened to much fanfare nearby at Tumbalong Boulevard, bringing the second Italian eatery to the area. Il Bacio’s space is more modest in size and the fit-out is simpler, but everything from the Italian meringue to the pizza is focused and well executed.

When construction is finished, the big front windows will look out to Darling Square’s park.

Il Bacio
Shop 3, 35 Tumbalong Boulevarde, Haymarket
(02) 8054 0722

Mon to Wed 6am–5pm
Thu & Fri 6am–11pm
Sat 7am–11pm
Sun 7am–5pm

This article was updated on October 4, 2018. It first appeared on Broadsheet on July 31, 2018. Menu items may have changed since publication.