PizzAperta - CLOSED
Make yourself comfortable at Stefano Manfredi's casual pizza piazza.
Located at the entrance to the Star City Casino, this open-air pizzeria offers you a better place to spend your dough. With stone-milled flour from Padova, olive oil from Tuscany and a pizza oven from Naples, I'm putting my bets on this one being a winner.
PizzAperta was created by Stefano Manfredi, the Australian godfather of Italian cuisine, and it's backed by an impressive Neapolitan woodfire oven (a Stefano Ferrara M130 for all you buffs out there). The outdoor venue has piazza seating (aka Pirrama Road footpath) or you can people-watch from a sleek timber bench bar — a particularly enjoyable sport with the casino entrance nearby. The odds of good pizza seem pretty high with pizzaiolo Gianluca Donzelli in the kitchen. The Michelin-starred chef recently placed fourth at the International Pizza Competition in Naples.
With expectations high, PizzAperta delivers (on taste that is; it's actually pick-up only). You can't hide behind a classic margherita ($19), and this one reveals delicious, chewy, light dough punctuated by crispy bubbles, delicate tomato sauce and milky globules of Buffalo mozzarella. A quattro formaggi ($19) is equally impressive; a classic four cheese with mozzarella, pecorino, gorgonzola and show-stealing clots of fresh ricotta with a walnut crumble on top.
The menu also welcomes a 'new wave' of contemporary flavours — think slow-cooked lamb belly and ricotta ($23) — as well as a few Roman 'Teglia' style pizzas on a thicker, foccacia-like base. To accompany, there is a small selection of salads and sides including meltingly rich arancini ($12) made with fior di latte and crisp rice grains. The food comes all packaged up, designed to be enjoyed in a casual, communal manner, straight from the box.
As much as we all love a carafe of watery Italian table wine, PizzAperta offers an expert list of cocktails, wines and beer, definitely not your run of the mill. The Vesuvius ($16) cocktail blends Havana 3 Anos rum, blueberry jam, mint and citrus together and is served beneath a mountain, or possibly a volcano, of shaved ice. It's beautiful, strong and has depth, much like its namesake. Italian and Australian beers can be found by the jug, while Italian varietals dominate the wine list.
If you're not sure what's on the cards for dinner, PizzAperta at The Star offers humble Italian street-food at a very high standard.