Il buco translates quite literally to 'the hole', which is exactly what Ponsonby's best pizzeria is: a cozy nook across the road from Ponsonby Central (yet still holding its own), with little more than a long glass cabinet housing over 30 different varieties of pizza.
Somewhat unusually, all pizza is served the traditional Roman way - rectangular and by the slice ($6 each).
Great for mixing and matching, pizza is displayed partially cooked; if you're dining in just pick what you want - a tough feat - and they'll finish it off in the oven for a few minutes, serving you the goods hot and fresh every time. Slices are small but perfectly formed and generously topped: you'll only need one or two.
Enjoy your pizza in nearby Western Park or with the locals, perched at the street-facing counter on the footpath. Owner Johnny Rudduck has built up a remarkably loyal following over the years, thanks to his effortless chatter and the consistently excellent quality of his food (Il Buco also does an unbelievable roast vege salad, soup of the day, lasagne and a selection of pocket-change sides).
I've probably sampled every pizza flavour by now, but the quattro formaggi (mozzarella, gorgonzola, brie and parmesan) and the double-carbing patate e salsiccia (potato, rosemary, and Italian sausage) are stand-outs.
Many varieties are dairy-free and vegan-friendly, and can be made sans gluten upon request. And if you're one of those rare souls not into pizza, Il Buco is worth visiting for the soups alone. They're healthy and light - swapping out the cre am for fresh herbs and spices - but somehow completely satisfying. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for flavours of the day and drop everything you're doing for the potato and leek or the minestrone ($8.50 and served with soldiers).
Johnny has also recently expanded his empire by opening up Il Buco No. 2 on Vulcan Lane - the perfect spot for a cheap cobblestone-and-sunshine lunch or Supreme coffee.