Ever since getting back from New York late last year I’ve been on a quiet prowl in our little town of Sydney for pizza just like the one I fell head-over-heels with at Motorino in the East Village. That is how I like my pizza’s. Crisp and chewy, blackened from the wood-fire with minimal toppings. Neapolitan style pizza is the way to go, for me.
I recently consulted Google to find my beloved “Motorino” pizza in Sydney, coming across an article on Sydney’s top 10 pizza’s compiled last year by Terry Durack, food critic for the Sydney Morning Herald. I’m not sure how many rated 14’s he pinned to his listed pizza venues but according to this list, Lucio’s in Darlinghurst was ranked number 1.
Ok, first of all I don’t buy into one persons ranking on anything. Secondly, who the hell says I’m to take that persons ranks as a benchmark? Perhaps this list should have read “Terry Duracks Top 10 Sydney Pizza’s”. Anyway, I was willing to give his number one pizza in Sydney a go, especially after it kind of fit the brief of the Neapolitan pizza I’ve been yearning since November last year.
Here we are at Lucio Pizzeria in the Republic 2 courtyard. No reservations means we had to get in as soon as they opened and in true Sydney style the space was moshing with urbanites within 15 minutes. The menu is simple Italian fare. Don’t ask me what else there was on the menu because we were here for just one thing. Any guesses? Looking around, I could already see pizza being delivered to other tables. It looked ok but in the dim light I wasn’t completely sure it’d meet my “Motorino” standards. Yes, I’m obsessed, but just go along with me on this one.
Unlike many pizza houses in this town where if you order, say, two pizza’s they come out around the same time for all to share. It seems the Lucio procedure involves one pizza at a time where you all share one, the table is cleared and the other pizza comes out within five minutes. Is this due to the small tables? Who knows. I order the rustica – provola, sausage, potato & rosemary. Simple toppings, sounds hopeful. As soon as it came to the table I knew it wasn’t what I was hoping for. Don’t get me wrong. This is good pizza; great flavours, well made, perhaps a little on the blonde-side but definitely a nice pizza to sink your teeth into. It just didn’t meet my expectations. The napoletana follows and I’m feeling the same about the appearance of the base and crust. It’s topped with tomato, olives, capers, anchovies and oregano. Again, great flavours, just not what I’m trying to find in this damn town.
The search continues…
We could have eaten dessert at Lucio’s but seeing Universal is virtiually next door, and the fact we hadn’t been there, I thought it’d be nice to wrap up the evening with some swanky cocktails and sweets. I’ve got to say I could have easily settled in for the night at the bar, boozing it up with fluffy cocktails sans the dessert. I rarely drink cocktails other than dirty martini’s or the very occasional (and very classy) Long Island iced tea so I thought I’d break that pattern and give the Turkish apple rose a burl; an “invigorating and soothing” glass of rose petal-topped tipple that intrigued me with its flavour descriptions. Rose & vanilla bean syrup, Square One organic vodka, apple liqueur and lime. Exotic flavours for a not-so-exotic dick from the Inner West. As fluffy and frou frou as it looked it was all-too easy to drink so I couldn’t help but down a second one. My side-kick went for the bitter & twisted, a concoction of Plymouth gin, Grand Marnier, bitters, lime and grapefruit. A bit sour around the lips and damn good enough to order a second.
Now, the desserts. The first is the original sin – a baked quince and apple “slice” of sorts with gingerbread base, green apple sorbet, pistachio’s and maple syrup custard. Wow. The beautiful tartness of this almost paralleled the bitter & twisted cocktail. Great stuff. The house signature is a dessert named gaytime goes nuts, a play on that classic ice cream many of us grew up with. A tuille turret containing honeycomb ice cream, salted hazelnut caramel, chocolate crunch and caramel parfait. Amazing. I’ve got to get back to try the food sometime, methinks.