The difference between pizza in teglia (on a tray) and more familiar round pizzas starts with the dough.
“It’s got a lot of water inside the dough,” says Stefano Zanco, the Venetian half of Ballaró, a small Sicilian eatery on King Street. Business partner and chef Daniele Arnone is from Sicily. The wobbly dough takes three days to prove before it’s ready to be made into pizza bases.
“On the first day, we prove the dough in a cool room so the yeast has time to mature,” says Zanco. “At night we mix it again, divide it into two balls and leave it to prove again. On the third day it’s ready for pizza.”
Australian flour can’t handle such a long process, so the pair imports flour from Italy.
The toppings for pizza in teglia lack the sameness of pizzas made with tomato sauce and topped with mozzarella. For the Arzia, Ballaró uses nduja, a spicy salami that’s so immature and soft, it can be spooned out of its casing like a paste. Italian pork sausage, caramelised onions and provolone picante (a stronger version of its mild cousin) finish the pizza.
The key to serving Ballaró pizza is reheating. “When it first comes out of the oven it's steaming,” says Arnone. “I won't serve it straight away; it needs to be reheated for the water to evaporate.”
After a few minutes reheating in the oven, the base becomes so crisp it makes a cracking noise as you bite into it. When customers have their first bite, Zanco’s ears seem to prick up for that sound, and when he hears it, he smiles.
Ballaró serves the kind of street food you’d find in a Sicilian market. The eatery is named after a famous food market in Arnone’s hometown of Palermo. Balls of arancine sit under the glass counter next to sheets of pizza. Arnone calls his classic Sicilian version the “queen of arancine”. It’s a ball of saffron rice filled with beef ragout and peas. Like the flour, the rice is imported from Italy. It’s more robust and holds its form better than the Arborio rice typically used in Australia.
The space is small and bright with a handful of tables and a high glass counter that houses the day’s offerings. Swathes of fabric in the Italian flag’s red, green and white drape from the ceiling, mimicking the decorations of the Ballaró marketplace.
With Zanco and Arnone smiling brightly from behind the counter, wearing matching coppolas (Sicilian flat caps) and calling out “ciao” and “grazie” to customers, it’s fun to imagine you’re in Sicily.
213 King Street, Newtown
Mon to Sun 11am–10pm