It wasn't my best hour. I was clearly off my game, having come back from overseas, I had underestimated or perhaps forgotten what a wild, wooly beast Sydney can be on a Friday night in terms of getting into an establishment for dinner (if you want one of the better places). The warm weather meant that everyone was out. Children were running about, their exuberance matched by their cries and I had forgotten to make a booking anywhere.
As I walked into the first place I realised that I didn't have a booking. Of course they were fully booked. We then walked to Palmer Street past Lucio's Pizzeria, makers of authentic Napoletana pizzas. It was almost fate really as we had just come back from Italy. The restaurant looked full but we asked if there was a table available. We were told that the wait was just ten minutes and then within three minutes they were calling us to let us know that our table was ready.
We take a seat facing the wood fired oven. It's a given that we will have pizza but which one exactly from the nineteen-strong list. Mr NQN points out the Pizzas Della Casa and my eyes zero in on the Lucio, a hybrid half man half beast.... Oh sorry hang on I got a bit carried away there! It's actually a half margarita pizza and half calzone. And because I love stracchino cheese we order the Campagnola too and a calamari fritti for starters (although deep down I think I really wanted the meatballs).
Calamari fritti $19
The calamari comes out freshly fried and we divide and dig in. The pieces are tender and lightly dredged in flour and we squeeze a generous amount of lemon on it.
Oh my goodness, if I thought the idea of a Lucio was good, the actual thing is even better. The pizza is cut in half and Mr NQN forgets that it is two pizzas and folds it over to eat it as one giant mega pizza (and he seems rather happy I must admit). I cut it in two and try the margarita first. It's excellent, full of simple flavours including an Italian buffalo mozzarella and buoyed by a fantastic crust. But it's the calzone half stuffed with creamy, luscious ricotta, mozzarella and ham that I devour in small bites prolonging the eating experience. Soft and creamy the soft cheese filling threatens to spill out with every bite.
The Campagnola arrives next - they seem to time the food so that your table is not overwhelmed (they asked if we were sharing). This is pizza topped with mozzarella, stracchino cheese, mushroom and a milk pork sausage. It's creamy and soft, the centre of the pizza thin and the edges puffy and thicker just as a Napoletana pizza should be. If only I hadn't eaten so much of the other one...
Ricotta e Pere $12.50
The table next to us had ordered the Nutella pizza doughnuts but we are recommended the tiramisu or the ricotta cake. We both like the sound of the ricotta and pear cake. It comes out as a single slice without any adornment, a part of me might have liked some ice cream or cream but once we take a fork to it any queries are silenced. The filling is fantastically creamy and generously studded with small pear pieces with the perfect amount of sweetness. The hazelnut biscuit is really more like a soft cake on the top and bottom and we're amazed that it doesn't fall apart when they cut it given how creamy and soft the filling is. "I want to make this at home," I declare to Mr NQN. There is no protest at all from him, only puppy dog eyes.
So tell me Dear Reader, do you book when you go out on Friday and Saturday nights? And what is the longest you'll wait for a table?
This meal was independently paid for.
248 Palmer Street, Darlinghurst, NSW
Tel: +61 (02) 9332 3766
Wednesday to Monday 6:00-10:00 pm (Closed Tuesdays)