After hearing impressive reports about Pizzaiolo Micheluccio, Bilby Blue and I decided to try it ourselves – over two lunches, because the pizzas were so good we came back for more. We are in very good company – the world champion margarita pizza maker from Zero95 has also dined here.
Pizzaiolo Micheluccio is a simple, modern café in the increasingly food-focussed Burwood Village shopping strip. The smallish interior seats only 20 or so diners, with a few extra tables outside, both front and back. A table just inside the back door gives a good view of Micheluccio performing his culinary magic at the large, domed wood-fired pizza oven. Prominently displayed is a certificate from the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana – the international organisation promoting and protecting the true Neapolitan Pizza – attesting to Micheluccio’s expertise and dedication to authentic techniques and ingredients. On each table is a wooden canteen containing Sicilian sea salt, serviettes, cutlery and, curiously, a pizza cutter (more on this later).
The regular menu (available for lunch and dinner) offers 13 pizzas, two calzones and six focaccias, all with classic Italian toppings; a couple of salads; the promise of a pasta special (unfulfilled on both our visits); and six desserts. Handwritten specials change regularly. The venue is licensed, and there is a good range of Italian beverages, including soft drinks.
There is a special $15 lunchtime menu which is excellent value, offering a choice of eight pizzas (and a rocket salad for $10). Over our two visits we chose three pizzas from the lunchtime menu and one from the regular menu. All of our chosen toppings began with the traditional hand-crushed San Marzano tomatoes and fior di latte mozzarella.
The Napoletana adds oregano, whole pitted olives and salty anchovies, before blasting the pizza in the 450 degree oven for no more than 90 seconds.
Diavola (“devil”) adds a generous amount of salami before its turn in the oven (see first pic). We chose mild salami, but you can also have hot. The salami is cooked just right to release its flavours without going dry and chewy.
Ortolana (“from the market garden”) adds layers of roasted peppers and eggplant and is then baked – a classic Italian flavour combination.
The Prosciutto (from the main menu) is a little different. The generous serving of parma prosciutto, rocket, and finely grated parmesan is scattered over the base after the pizza, tomato and mozzarella are baked.
All of these pizzas were excellent! The San Marzano tomatoes and fior di latte mozzarella provide a great foundation and the various toppings are super fresh and full of flavour. The pizza base is soft and light, and has a subtle salt/savoury flavour. Despite some toppings (particularly the Ortolana) being very juicy, the bases do not go soggy.
This is especially notable on our second visit when we adopt the traditional method of eating Neapolitan style pizzas – folding them in half, and then half again, forming a substantial handheld pizza parcel. It’s not particularly photogenic, but it is very tasty. Hint: Your last few bites will be overflowing with topping, and concentrated juices may drip onto your plate. Save some of the outer crust to mop up the drips. A bit messy, but delicious.
Which brings me to the pizza cutter supplied on each table. Micheluccio serves his pizzas uncut, inviting diners to eat them in the traditional way, but you can cut the pizzas if preferred.
Is the traditional way better? For Neapolitan-style pizzas, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’! The folded pizza base acts like a blanket to keep the filling warm, and seems to intensify the flavours. Plus it is a lot less messy – assuming you folded the pizza correctly.
Micheluccio also convinces us to try his ‘dollnuts’ – Nutella encased in pizza dough, deep fried and then drenched in cinnamon and sugar. You might expect this to be very heavy, but his pizza dough is very light, and the dollnuts are very indulgent – the standard serve of three large dollnuts (using one portion of pizza dough) is huge! Supposedly for one or two to share, Bilby and I reckon it would easily satisfy up to six with half a dollnut each.
OverallPizzaiolo Micheluccio makes great pizzas using traditional Neapolitan techniques and classic toppings. We also recommend you eat the pizza in the traditional way – folded, not cut. It will change the way you appreciate pizza.
There is a great value $15 lunch menu, and special offers on most weeknights, including a ‘buy 4 get 1 free’ on takeaway orders any time of day.
Find it atPizzaiolo Micheluccio
1398 Toorak Road
Camberwell Vic 3124
Phone 9889 1114