Something unexpected can be found in Lane Cove – an authentic slice of Italy, or Naples to be precise. Tucked into the tiny strip of shops opposite the refurbished library on Austin Street, Via Napoli has been packing the locals in since it threw open its doors in late 2011.
Full of flavour, passion and some of the most authentic Neapolitan wood-fired pizza you can find, diners are lining up for the perfectly executed pizza. Owner and Pizzaiolo, Luigi Esposito, was born in Naples and has worked in pizzerias all over Naples and Europe, so he is passionate about the authenticity of his offerings, happily pointing out that the oven is the key. It must be domed, wood-fired and the pizza must be cooked at 485c for no more than 60 or 90 seconds.
Then there is the base; the dough must be hand-kneaded only, no more than 35cm in diameter and 1/3 of a centimetre thick at the centre. Those are the rules of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (True Neapolitan Pizza Association), of which Esposito has been a member since age 15.
But the talk of the locals is the one-metre long pizza with up to three toppings sectioned across the top. Combinations might be a simple margarita, radicchio with prosciutto, or decadent truffle, pancetta and gorgonzola. The metre-long pizzas arrive on metre-long wooden boards, making quite the centre piece- and quite the spectacle as the pizzaiolo flips and slides them out of the oven. Now that’s real skill.
Get in early if you can to avoid waiting with a watering mouth, and keep an eye out for the kids’ master classes on pizza making.