What’s the best birthday present for a pizzeria? How about acknowledgement from Naples’ foremost pizza authority, the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN)? Exactly a year after opening, Queen Margherita of Savoy has become only the fifth pizzeria in Sydney to be recognised by the AVPN for making traditional, high quality Neapolitan pizza.
“Now I feel like we’re living up to the expectation the association sets,” says Lee Carroll, owner and head chef. To get accredited, Carroll had to prove both the authenticity and quality of his ingredients and his production method, most crucial of which is the dough prep. Neapolitan pizza relies on a precise and intricate day-long fermentation process. It involves kneading, rising, resting and proofing, but each of those elements relies on a complicated tapestry of variables. Carroll, who studied pizza making under some of Naples’ most acclaimed pizzaiolos, says there’s no exact method you can read and copy every day. The fermentation relies on the humidity, temperature, yeast and salt proportions, the age of the flour and the water. “You never really master Neapolitan pizza. It’s like a lion; you can only cage it for a while.”
Carroll may never master the perfect pizza, but he should be proud with how close he gets. The base is thin, flavoursome, slightly chewy and just moist enough to sag at the slice’s tip. On top Carroll uses pure crushed San Marzano tomatoes, fresh cheese from Marrickville’s Vannella and cured meats from South Sydney institution Pino’s Dolce Vita Fine Foods. When you go, try the Margherita or the Marinara, the only two pizzas deemed worthy of the AVPN pizzaiolo training. Because pizza is traditionally a cheap street food, Carroll recommends downing it with gulps of Stelle e Strisce, a zesty Italian craft beer. “The Australian craft-beer market is going so crazy, we don’t really focus on the rest of the world, but it’s going crazy in Italy as well.”
Carroll says if it were up to him, he’d only sell pizza. But business dictates otherwise. “I’ve opened a few restaurants in this area. If people see a menu that doesn’t have much variety they’ll be turned off.” Of the non-pizza menu items, try the gnocchi and arancini made by the restaurant’s resident Sicilian nonna, Carmela Manfre. For dessert it’s best to forget tradition and order the outrageous Queen’s Hot Fudge Sunday, combining local Frangipani gelato with homemade beer-nut brittle and hot chocolate fudge sauce.
Queen Margherita of Savoy
9/2–8 Surf Road, Cronulla
(02) 9527 4992
Mon to Thu 5pm–10pm
Fri & Sat 5pm–midnight