There are plenty of contenders for Canberra’s finest pizzas but these are our favourites, for fun, flavour and authenticity. By Diana Streak and Alex Greig.
There are traditional pizzas at Pizza Gusto – your Margherita, your Napoletana – but you won’t get sneered at for enjoying pineapple on your slice (the Tropicale is a kid-pleasing ham, pineapple and mozzarella), and the Affetato is a glorified meat-lover’s with shaved leg ham, Calabrese salami and prosciutto. The dough is triple-proved, making for a light, crisp base; the toppings are high quality; and the wait-time for one of the few outdoor tables could be long. Don’t come to Pizza Gusto for a restaurant experience; come for the pizza. Grab a bottle of chianti from the bottle shop next door and for God’s sake, use your hands.
23 Lonsdale Street, Braddon; (02) 6257 7508
From the vibrant pink neon signs, blush walls and copper cutlery to the rosé on tap, Agostinis is the warm glowing heart of Italian home cooking. Pizzas are created with Neapolitan artisan flair from dough that rises for 72 hours before going into the state-of-the-art rotating Marana Forni pizza oven imported from Verona.
East Hotel, 69 Canberra Avenue, Kingston; (02) 6178 0048
Four Winds Vineyard
The imported Italian brick oven is fired up to 350 degrees by burning local hardwoods and churns out pizza cooked to perfection – it’s particularly delicious when matched with the impressive Four Winds Vineyard 2015 Sangiovese. There are only four pizza options but we defy anyone not to love at least one: Potato and Gorgonzola, BBQ Chicken, Salami and Black Olives, and a monthly vegetarian special. Pizza is served from midday to 3pm, Saturdays and Sundays.
9 Patemans Lane, off Murrumbateman Road, Murrumbateman; (02) 6227 0189
The slogan says it all: “Our pizza dough: born in Italy, raised in Australia.” Locale is as genuine as it gets; beautifully thin and crisp bases slathered with San Marzano sugo and dreamily creamy fior di latte. Napoletana fans will relish the authentic version here, topped with juicy white anchovies and dotted with capers and olives.
5 Duff Place, Deakin; (02) 6162 2888
Briscola Pizzeria é Stuzzichini Bar
The folks at Briscola like to keep things local with meat from Red Hill Butcher, regional wine and nonna-made pasta – but to get their bases just right, only Italian would do. The flour used in Briscola’s blistered, slightly stretchy bases is tipo 00 imported from Italy and risen twice before being slid into the wood-fired oven. The pizzas come in small, medium and large sizes and the pizzaioli will do a medium-sized gluten-free base. For our money, the simple Funghi – bocconcini, mushroom, parsley and a drizzle of truffle oil – really lets the ingredients sing, but those with more intrepid tastebuds should venture further down the menu for flavour hits such as the Briscola, layered with salami, gorgonzola, sweet caramelised onions, chilli and fresh rocket.
60 Alinga Street, Canberra; (02) 6248 5444
In the throbbing heart of the vibrant Acton Precinct, Bicicletta offers a convivial indoor space or gorgeous courtyard setting for generous pizzas that engulf the edge of the plate. Industrial chic décor is the perfect backdrop for tucking into the signature Bicicletta – tomato sauce, smoked salmon, baby spinach, sour cream and sprigs of fresh dill.
1/15 Edinburgh Avenue, Canberra; (02) 6262 8683
10” Custom Pizzeria
Located in The Hamlet, a village of food trucks in Braddon, 10” Custom Pizzeria pulls ahead with its own dedicated shopfront. Here, the process is more hands-on than your traditional no-half-and-half pizza joint: starting at one end of the counter, you choose your sauce (San Marzano tomato is the obvious choice but if you go for barbecue sauce or peri peri, that’s your business), then shuffle up to select your cheeses (there are eight options, including buffalo mozzarella and haloumi) and from there, you can really go for broke with anything from house-made meatballs to jalapenos. Two minutes at 400 degrees in the wood-fired oven and you’re the mayor of pizza town.
16 Lonsdale Street, Braddon; (02) 6247 1010
Trecento Woodfired Pizzeria & Bar
If a restaurant’s menu states “apologies no changes to the menu” you know the proprietors have absolute faith in the authenticity of their product. With an Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) certified master pizza-maker in the kitchen using a 300-year-old recipe from Naples, Trecento diners are advised not to dare ask for extra chilli on the Diavola or no eggplant on the Siciliana. Pizza bianca devotees are spoilt for choice here, too, with seven tomato-free options including the excellent Pistachio, which is laden with fior di latte, parmesan, Neapolitan sausage and basil.
Unit 33, Manuka Terrace, corner Flinders Way and Franklin Street, Manuka; (02) 6260 7111
The owners of Pizza Artigiana have dual passions: pizza and soccer. The latter is evident in the lurid mural of Italy’s greatest players on the back wall and the TV screening the latest match; the former passion is evident in the well-executed traditional pizzas cooked in the blazing wood-fired oven. Here, the dough is allowed to rise for three days, the fermentation time making for an extra-tasty base – there won’t be any crusts left on plates here. The menu is a greatest-hits list including Margherita, Quattro Stagioni and Capricciosa, but the Patate e Salsiccia – a satisfyingly chewy base topped with thinly sliced potato, mozzarella, Italian sausage and thyme –could be Artigiana’s MVP.
Corner of Bowman and Wiseman Street, Macquarie; (02) 6251 3315
Salotto Bar & Kitchen
Nothing warms the cockles of a pizza-phile’s heart more than the sight of a big wood-burning oven and tables set with candle-wax covered chianti bottles and surrounded by bentwood chairs. The comfortable interior at Salotto – the word means “sitting room” – sets the right tone, but what about the pies? The menu is short but sweet: the six pizzas cover all the bases amply from the carnivore’s choice Amanti della Carne to the umami-seeker’s Piccante with salami, olives and mushrooms. Salotto uses house-made Napoletana sauce and fior di latte for its wood-fired creations – and extra points must be awarded for the inventive and delicious chocolate lasagne dessert.
25 Kennedy Street, Kingston; (02) 6295 1813
Top image: Bicicletta
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