132 Wood St, Preston
When your head pizza maker has recently been crowned Australia’s best pizza maker at the annual World Pizza Championships, you know you’re doing something right.
Mr Silvio Serpa holds that title now, for his margherita pizzas, which he’s producing by what I imagine must be the truckload at unassuming little hole-in-the-wall Pizzaly, tucked away in Preston. Being an Italian girl who grew up around the family business which was based in Preston, I was feeling proud as punch that this couple from my family’s homeland were doing so incredibly well, even though I don’t actually know them :)
Pizzaly, to me, is a real pizza place. No Hawaiian, Aussie, Americana crap here. It’s real, proper, Italian pizza, sticking with that golden rule of less is more, providing it’s all quality. And they have San Pelegrino Aranciata Rossa soft drinks, which is basically the taste of childhood to me. Good start!
They have around 20-odd pizzas on offer, half on traditional tomato bases and half on white bases (AKA no tomato sauce base), and picking one or two out is not easy. Made even harder was our seat right by Silvio’s counter, where we watched him fire out pizza after pizza, completely unassisted. Watching him was like watching poetry in motion – he was in a pizza-making trance, and it was incredible!
Eventually we decided on the margherita ($15.00), obviously, and a prosciutto crudo e rucola ($20.00) which was a white base with prosciutto, rocket, and mozzarella.
The margherita deserved the title. I’m sure this won’t make a lot of Melbournian’s happy, but I liked Silvio’s margherita a lot better than the other award-winning margherita from 400 Gradi. That dough is unbelievably thin and light, and the simplicity of good quality tomato, cheese and oregano is pure magic.
The prosciutto was equally impressive, again because of the freshness and quality of the few ingredients on there. The prosciutto was sliced thin enough that you could have held it up and seen through it, there was just enough of everything to balance; it was just the way pizza should be.
They were actually not super filling (despite the large plates they came out on) because of the thin bases, so I took that as a green light to get dessert. The window counter out front was filled with deliciousness, but under a mesh cloche, I spied an old favourite – crostata. Basically, it’s just a tart shell filled with jam and topped with lattice pastry, but it’s a traditional Italian dessert and one that I absolutely LOVE to eat. I had a piece of the raspberry one, and it was the perfect end to the meal.
I had to stop on our way out to thank Mr Serpa for the magnificent pizza, because it really was. And not only the pizza, but everything about Pizzaly – it felt like dinner at Nonno’s house out in the suburbs; comfortable, warm, unpretentious, inviting. That’s how Italian food should be. And seeing as it’s not far from home for us, I think we’ll be eating there a lot more often now!