”Too much of a good thing is wonderful”
~ Mae West, legendary American actress, singer and sex symbol
Mysaucepan reckons I’m a cheapskate when it comes to seeking out good food.
Apparently my continuing search for the best Malaysian-style char kway teow in the back streets of Kuala Lumpur which costs the equivalent of $1.50 is no comparison to a $35 Italian pasta on the trendier end of Sydney.
Well, she’s correct. Because in many respects, this cheap, smoky plate of goodness beats fresh pasta in taste and flavour Every. Single. Time.
But I know there’s a time to seek out cheap and cheerful and a time to pamper and indulge. After all, good food is subjective. It means different things to different folks.
So when Pizza Autentico offers an all-you-can-eat deal in trendy Surry Hills, the question on everyone’s mind is whether the pizza will hit or miss. The brainchild of restaurateur Hamilton Kings who owns Bondi Social, the inspiration for this pizzeria came from those all-you-can-eat Brazilian churrasco restaurants.
The concept is simple.
There is a limited time slot where $20 buys you ninety minutes for dinner while $15 gives you an hour during lunch to sample an unlimited array of ten pizzas and five pastas. There is also half a dozen classic Italian sides to share for $9 each if you so wish.
With an invitation from Evans Media PR, my friend Towkayso and I are about to experience what seems to be an enticing deal.
Split into two levels, we are lunching on street level where a large concrete table is the centrepiece for communal dining.
There are probably ten different parties seated at this huge table totalling up to twenty five hungry pizza lovers. The casual ambience feels like a Japanese sushi train restaurant, minus the train and sushi of course.
Complimentary house-made bread, marinated olives and olive tapenade arrive as soon as you are seated.
Filo pastry on anchovy cigars are crisp and pillowy but even being a fan of anchovy, I find the innards a tad too salty and concentrated. I would love to taste an easy fix with chunky mashed potato in the mix.
The breadcrumbed classic Sicilian arancini balls are golden brown and piping hot with creamy arborio and melting mozzarella inside.
After finishing our arancini balls, I pour a little EVOO onto the bed of rocket, cherry tomato wedges, olives and whalla! – a simple and healthy salad appears before we declare war on the pizzas.
Waiters bring out the pizzas on wooden boards one at a time (See cover image above).
Depending on when you join this communal bandwagon, our waiter offers a slice of Quattro Stagioni with prosciutto, olives, button mushrooms and artichokes.
I like a bit of spice in my pizza so I’m warming up to the hot and spicy bits of Italian pork sausage in the N’duja pizza.
After a couple of slices, I am curious to check out Pizza Autentico’s providore in Alexandria that specializes in imported salt meats and cheese. Apart from Spanish chorizo, this is definitely a sausage I would throw into a Friday night pasta at home.
Although she’s not a big fan of cheese, Towkayso likes the flavours in the Di Marcello Pomodoro with buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomato, shaved parmesan and basil.
Perhaps it’s the expensive buffalo mozzarella sourced from gourmet providore Salt Meats Cheese that’s making all the difference in flavours.
Or maybe her healthy appetite is fueled by being squeezed so close to me in this communal setting. Whether its the food, me or both, I can sense she is savouring this time.
The wine list is an all-Italian affair with famed varietals such as Tuscan chianti, Sicilian chardonnay and Veronian soave.
It’s probably a good thing when we see more restaurants offering their wines in carafes, especially in a eat-all-you-can concept. I choose a 2008 Racemi Monili Tarantino Primitivo to go with our pizzas. Similar to California’s zinfandel though not as heavy in alcohol content, this medium bodied red has hints of pepper and eucalyptus.
I sprinkle black pepper, chilli flakes and my penne arrabbiata immediately comes alive. For me, I would focus more on the pizzas as pastas can be easily replicated at home.
The food seems a little slow in making its way out and during busy lunch hour and we sense diners on a lunch break are pining for the food to arrive a little faster.
The price of a pizza in some of Sydney’s notable pizzerias range anywhere from around $18 to $28. Personally, I’m totally stuffed if I decide to eat one whole pizza and that’s also when I am hungry. And all-you-can-eat pizza is not totally new as La Botte D’oro in Leichhardt offers a similar thing on Mondays and Tuesdays.
The simplicity of this dining concept helps to keep overheads low and hence offer a wide selection of pizza and pasta at a very competitive dine-in price. Just because it’s “unlimited”, it does not mean you really have to gorge yourself silly unless you are totally famished. The honesty of quality ingredients and choices at this price point should be your consideration to visit Pizza Autentico.
Surry Hills trendites may have another restaurant to cheer about but more importantly for pizza lovers, too much pizza is probably a wonderful thing.
ChopinandMysaucepan dined courtesy of Evans Media PR and Pizza Autentico. Prices are included for readers’ information. All views and opinions are our own.
15 Brisbane street, Surry Hills
New South Wales
Tel: +61 2 9267 9992
Opening hours: Monday – Friday 12pm till late, Saturday – Sunday 5pm till late