Pizza Mario had long been considered a big cheese in the Sydney pizza scene, so it came as some surprise to learn they had abandoned their original outpost in Surry Hills in June. What? Where? When? Why? Before you get upset, you'll be pleased to know the site has already been taken over by a vibrant new Roman-style pizzeria, Maybe Frank. Their all-you-can-eat Tuesday night represents some of the best value that Bourke Street has ever seen, and it can also help you deal with any post-Mario's trauma you may be experiencing.
Maybe Frank is much trendier than your typical neighbourhood trattoria. Yes, there is still the odd kid with a napkin stuffed in their shirt and pasta sauce on their fingers — but primarily this is a young, lively crowd who have been lured just as much by the caprioskas as the capricciosas.
Maybe Frank's menu features 20 different pizzas, and you can try them all on Tuesday for $20, when they hold their aforementioned all-you-can-eat pizza night — that is, if Pizza Hut hasn't already ruined that concept for you. Waiters come around throughout the evening and offer around plates filled with freshly baked slices of Vernazza (stracchino, pesto and pine nuts), Zola (gorgonzola, walnuts and radicchio) and Zafferano (saffron, zucchini and prawns), among other classic styles.
There are two main schools of thought when it comes to pizza bases. There's Napoli-style, which is blasted in extreme heat to forge an airy, chewy and blistered base. Then there's Roman-style, where the dough is cooked for longer at lower temperatures to create a stiff, crunchy base. Maybe Frank is a disciple of the latter. Their bases have a rustic, bready quality which makes them easier to handle sans cutlery however the heaviness of the style occasionally steals the limelight away from the more delicate flavour combinations, such as margherita or marinara.
The only requirement for the all-you-can-eat pizza night is that you purchase a drink. Feel free to stinge out and order a Pepsi Max — but, trust me, you'll want to try the cocktails, which are as good as any bar in the city. There are two cocktail menus to choose from, a contemporary list of fresh, striking flavours, including a Mexican Ninja ($17) — made from tequila, watermelon, rose, citrus and shiso — or there's a traditional list made from classic Italian spirits such as amaro, vermouth, Campari and Aperol blended with fresh juices and homemade syrups.
If you come on a night other than Tuesday, you can access the whole menu, which includes a selection of Italian and Australian meats and cheeses, focaccias, salads, pastas and a brilliant pesto lasagne. So, what are you waiting for? Maybe Frank? Definitely.
Images: DS Oficina