Redfern’s changing. It’s been happening for years but has sped up over the past few weeks. Eveleigh Street has seen a new collaborative cafe; on Pitt Street, there’s a Japanese banquet two nights a week; and on Redfern Street, a Sicilian pizzeria.
The latter is the latest home of Steven Scopelliti, a pizza merchant who’s worked in as many NSW suburbs as a career politician. “I've been doing this since 1988. My first business was in Miranda, Kingsway Pizzeria,” he says. With just a single shared table and a few outside seats (likely to increase in coming weeks), La Coppola is much like the owner’s original pizzeria in Miranda, barely more than a takeaway counter. That’s not to suggest any compromise in quality, though. Not only does the tiny kitchen squeeze in a production line of chefs freshly prepping ingredients for each pizza order, it also houses a traditional Italian wood-fired oven.
The pizza variety Scopelliti produces, based on his home region in Italy, is not that common in Sydney: the Sicilian style. “The style is a cross between a Napolitano pizza and a Roman pizza,” he says. It has a crisp base with a doughy, blistered edge, not as thick as Roman pizza but certainly not thin and wet like the Neapolitan style either. Scopelliti’s dough is particularly soft and puffy. His secret recipe, he says, makes the base different from a purely traditional one.
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Despite his 30 years of experience, Scopelliti isn’t a stickler for tradition like most of Sydney’s other top pizzaiolos. Most of the pizzas are based not on old recipes but on Italian cuisine more broadly. “We had a day where we spread all the different ingredients we’d use for pastas, sandwiches, everything. We laid it all out and said, ‘Right let’s use this,’” says Scopelliti’s daughter Cassie. Other pizzas, such as the Ciccio with fior di latte, ricotta, fried zucchini and Parmigiano-Reggiano, or the Lila with fior di latte, Italian sausage, artichoke, fennel, garlic, parsley and fresh chilli, are named after people.
Cassie, as well as encouraging her father to come out of retirement to open in Redfern, is also the pizzeria’s designer. The priority was to eschew current pared-back, industrial trends, so instead the theme is a simple reincarnation of colours and images of Sicily. Ornate tiles line the walls and tables are adorned with imported vases and salt shakers.
4/152 Redfern St, Redfern
(02) 9699 8450
Sun to Wed 5pm–10pm
Fri & Sat 5pm–11.30pm