Every morning La Bufala's pizzaiolos knead, stretch and separate hundreds of pizza-dough balls. They're not going to use them that same evening. All of these doughy pizza babies will need to ferment for at least 36 hours.
“Look, it's double the price this flour and it's difficult to manage, you need to be ready all the time,” says Nicholas Sottile, La Bufala's owner (who is joined in the business by Piero Brisa and Domenic Timpano).
Why do they go to this much effort, you ask? They’re determined to use a healthier, unrefined flour with a natural yeast (lievito madre). While many of Sydney's more passionate, artisan pizzaiolos use ultra-refined Caputo flour (type 00, the easiest one to use), La Bufala uses a stone-ground, less refined flour called San Felice (a type 1 flour). “It's like wholemeal bread and white bread. All the new pizzerias in Italy, not the old-school ones, use type one flour,” says Sottile. “You can see it’s a bit brown. It’s very light.”
With it, Sottile and his veteran pizzaiolo Francesco Moramarco (ex-Merivale, Rosso Antico and Da Orazio) hand-roll a new style of Neapolitan pizza. They still have the wood-fired oven and the same thin, floppy base with a puffed, blistered crust but these pizzas are smaller at the edge, more elastic and sort of gelatinous. The bases are as flavoursome and complex as one would expect from a good sourdough and their toppings are fresh and classically Italian. “Some people like the real Neapolitan style, but for me, this is the best,” says Sottile.
A burrata comes with pureed San Marzano tomatoes, long sheets of prosciutto and a single fat blob of semi-molten burrata. Another, the Genovese, is covered in blobs of fior di latte (Italian soft cheese), potato chunks, pork sausages and pesto.
Sottile is proud and excited by the work of Moramarco and his pizzaiolos and has designed the restaurant to show off their craft. The oven, which Sottile imported from Italy, is at the restaurant’s centre, with dark furnishings and blackboard-menu walls shaped around it.
If it was up to him, Sottile says he’d only serve pizza, but to cater for other tastes he also serves home-made pastas, grilled fish and focaccias.
Shops 17 & 18, 19-33 Kent Road, Mascot Central