Antico's Is the New Family-Run Pizzeria Located Upstairs at the Beach Road Hotel
Set to run for three months, the pop-up is by the team behind a 15-year-old pizzeria in Sydney's southwest.
Changes are afoot at one of Sydney's historic beachside boozers. A long-standing locals haunt, the 1956-built Beach Road Hotel has a new resident — and it's travelled far from the eastern suburbs. Wander upstairs to the bar's sprawling lounge, and you'll find a space replete with couches, pool tables, a large central bar and a new pop-up pizzeria called Antico's.
While this beachside pop-up is new, opening in early March 2021, the pizzeria itself isn't. The OG Antico is located an hour southwest of Sydney, in a heritage-listed Narellan building. Opened 15 years ago by Mike Nikolovski, the suburban eatery is now a true family affair. Mike's wife Margarita — "the best pizza cutter in the world" — works in the restaurant alongside their son Aleks (head pizza honcho), Aleks' partner Lauren (customer service and marketing), his sister Sofija (front of house and events), and, most recently, his brother Alen.
If you're a Sydney bar fly, you'll recognise Alen. He's worked at watering holes across the city for more than ten years, including at Tio's, The Baxter Inn and Shady Pines Saloon. It's thanks to his connections in the industry that the pop-up was possible. "I was in here [Beach Road Hotel] for lunch not long ago and the GM Ben Pearce, who is a really old friend of mine, was asking about our family business and how it's going," Alen told Concrete Playground. "He mentioned that they had a pizza oven upstairs that they were only using a few days a week and if we would be interested in doing a pop-up. I instantly said yes and then called my brother and dad."
The pizza at both venues is closest to traditional Roman-style pizza. "Big fluffy crust, a few more toppings than the Napoli style and holds up well, not too floppy," explains Alen. The dough recipe, which Mike has had for over 35 years, is a closely guarded family secret. "It's like the Colonel's KFC seven secret spices recipe, no one will ever really tell you," says Alen. While the family won't share the recipe, they will share how it's prepared and cooked.
"It's 48-hour proof. When getting made it's under constant supervision, making sure there is enough water and flour while in the dough machine, and by feel and look deciding when it's finished. It's a true art form," says Alen. "It comes out super soft, is stretched by hand and cooked in the traditional oven at high heat, giving it a super cloudy crust while maintaining a strong middle to hold the toppings up."
And what are those toppings? At the pop-up, you'll find classics like the margherita with cherry tomatoes and a pepperoni with sopresso salami and chilli flakes; more left-of-field numbers like the truffle oil-topped mushroom and peri peri chicken pizzas; the always-controversial hawaiian; and Alen's favourite: a burrata and anchovy number.
The pop-up, which is set to run for three months, isn't the only recent expansion for the pizzeria, either. Early last year, the team launched a food truck. Because of COVID-19, however, events have been few and far between — but, in upcoming months, expect to see it rolling out markets and festivals, including at the upcoming Yours and Owls Festival, which has just been given the green light to go ahead this April
Find Antico's at the Beach Road Hotel, 71 Beach Road, Bondi Beach from 4pm–late Wednesday–Saturday. It's set to close at the end of May.
Images: Pat Stevenson
Published on March 11, 2021 by Samantha Teague