What’s Brazilian pizza? “[This is] what I say to people when they ask me: the last 70 years we've had a lot of Lebanese, Italians, Germans, Turks immigrating to Brazil. They all brought their food over. We already had ours and with theirs, it's a big mix,” says John Azevedo. He’s the owner of Topping Mad Pizza, along with his wife and chef Christiane. This combination of cuisines and cultures is at the heart of Brazil, and is what Azevedo is really passionate about.
Chicken Catupiry is a pizza smothered in catupiry, a Brazilian cream cheese invented by an Italian migrant in 1911. It’s named after the Tupi (an indigenous group in Brazil) word for “excellent”. First comes a bed of tender, pressure-cooked chicken. The homemade cream cheese is mixed with mozzarella and then poured into the crust and all over the pizza. It becomes incredibly stringy when melted.
There’s also the Portuguese-inspired Portuguesa with ham, tomato, mozzarella, catupiry, olives, peas, eggs and onion; or the Palmito with parmesan, catupiry and palm hearts. The dough is similar to Neapolitan style; thin and soft from a long fermentation (Azevedo’s goes for anywhere between 24 and 48 hours) but with a slightly less sloppy base.
Another way to order is rodizio-style: a set-price ($27–$30 per person here) all-you-can-eat table service. It’s everywhere in Brazil; not just for pizzas but for churrasco (barbeque) and a variety of other foods. Rodizio is characterised by having a huge variety of dishes and here it’s no different.
It starts with street snacks, esfihas (a doughy Lebanese-Brazilian dish with mincemeat and cheese) and coxinha (tear-drop shaped croquettes with shredded chicken and cheese). The rodizio pizzas don’t have any crust; instead they’re more like flat breads with curled edges. Toppings include pork ribs, stroganoff and chips, and shitake mushrooms, soy sauce and mozzarella.
Then come the sweets. Dessert pizzas are very much a thing in Brazil; the most popular of which are the banana com canela, with sweetened condensed milk, banana and cinnamon powder, or the brigadeiro with chocolate (Nutella here), strawberries and more condensed milk.
Regardless of the pizza, make sure never to grab a slice with your hands. In Brazil, pizzas are eaten with a knife and fork. “We don't treat pizzas as just pizzas, we love pizzas,” says Acevedo.
Topping Mad Pizza
65 Macpherson Street, Bronte
(02) 9389 0127
Hours: Tue to Sun 5pm–10pm