Ever since Gigi switched to their plant-based menu and stopped serving bases adorned with dairy delights, inner west cheese fiends have been looking for a new place to get their pizza slice fix. Now that Rosso Antico has opened it's doors, they're in luck.
White tiles and exposed brick walls paired with simple low lighting characterise this new Italian eatery, with the only splash of red a mosaic pizza oven at its cosy heart. The simple menu reflects the pared back space — antipasto, pizza and pasta — while the drinks menu is a little more extensive, showcasing a selection of international and locally sourced beers and wines (though it's hard to pass up the trusty Aperol Spritz or the Rosso Antico).
On one of the walls, the words "Pe' fa' e cose bone ce vo' tiemp" are scrawled in black, a statement that roughly translates as "All good things take time". It's a cute sentiment when applied to, say, painting a masterpiece, but not when you're hungry. It's a good thing pizza production only takes the chefs three minutes, because there's only so much politely watching other people devour pizza slices that is physically possible.
The quality of a good pizza lies predominantly in its base — and the bases at Rosso Antico are super legit. They have that prefect crispy, chewy balance only true Italians seem to be able to produce, and the toppings that amply adorn those base are on point. We particularly enjoyed the Norma ($19), with generous caramelised slivers of roasted eggplant, tangy sauce, islands of salted ricotta and a generous amount of fior di latte. The Zucchini ($20) — with crispy pancetta, roasted zucchini strips and melted fior di latte and scamorza — was equally cheesy. We found the middle of our pizzas were a little wet in the centre, and we were left with no choice but to eat the pizza folded in half to make up for the lack of structural integrity, which wasn't really an issue because it makes you feel like you're in the movies.
The pasta dishes left a little to be desired. Although the house-made fettuccine ($19) was cooked perfectly, the ragu was heavy on the tomato sauce, and we counted only five chunks of the melt-in-your-mouth pork and veal scattered on top. It was also served without the required pile of grated parmesan, which was a shame. It's the one part of the menu you can feel free to pass up.
If you've got room for dessert, the Nutella calzone ($13) with its molten chocolate and strawberry centre served with a generous scoop of vanilla gelato is enough to satisfy a party of three, while the Pastiera Napoletana ($9), a traditional baked ricotta tart, is more manageable for one.
Images by Diana Scalfati.