One of the most universally liked and fabled foods in Italian cuisine, the pizza is both a simple and sublime creation. The birthplace of the modern pizza is the Italian city of Naples and The Argyle have wisely gone straight to the source for their new pizza-heavy Canteen menu, recruiting Naples-born chef Andrea Fontana to run the woodfired oven and source ingredients from the northern Italian region.
Authenticity is a key word here, and the results are stunning — a significant upgrade for this always popular Rocks venue. Having had stints in pizzerias at home and in London, Fontana is passionate about bringing the authentic tastes of his home city to a Sydney clientele which has grown increasingly refined and educated in their pizza-loving tastes.
Featuring fresh ingredients, the pizzas here are made on dough which is proofed for 24 hours before entering the woodfire oven, where it is cooked in just 45 seconds to give it that authentic melt in the mouth softness with gnarled and bubbled edges.
Favourites on the pizza menu include the classic San Daniele ($18), with prosciutto and fresh, peppery rocket, and the capricciosa ($15), with the salty hit of the olives cutting through the tomato and mozzarella gooeyness.
Fontana's own favourite, meanwhile, is the excellent quattro formaggi ($15) with gorgonzola, crecenza and generous shavings of parmesan as well as the famously creamy Campania mozzarella. It's an impressively creamy and rich affair, and has already been described as the best pizza of its kind in Sydney by at least one satisfied punter.
While the pizzas are their pride and joy, there's also a range of Italian-accented entrees, like stuffed zucchini blossoms ($17), bruschetta ($10) and porcini mushroom and four cheese arancini ($10). Even the bistro staples offer a bit of a twist, with the Caesar salad ($17) including slow-cooked eggs and subbing out bacon and croutons for speck and house-made grissini in a bid to up the stakes on an often stodgy option.
Of the starters, the house-made chunky sweet potato chips are particularly recommended, making good use of the often underrated vegetable's fluffy texture and slightly nutty taste. There are also some Italian side salads, like the insalata radicchio ($12), which nicely balances the bitterness of radicchio with slivers of sweet pear and gorgonzola.
The familiar, dimly lit room with its exposed beams and casual layout are still intact, as is the well-stocked bar, which includes some nice wine options from Italy and France as well as locals like the Kiwi Opawa Pinot Noir ($12.50/$55). Aperitifs include an expertly made example of the drink that bartenders drink, the Negroni.
Because too much pizza is never actually enough, you'll be wanting to double down on deliciousness with a Nutella pizza ($15) for dessert. Slathered in the rich hazelnut spread and topped with pretty sliced strawberries, it's an indulgent and fitting end to a first-rate pizza feast.