Al Taglio review

Diavola pizza with piped cheese and spicy salami.
Diavola pizza with piped cheese and spicy salami. Photo: Christopher Pearce

102-104 Albion St Surry Hills, NSW 2010

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Opening hours Thu-Sat noon-3pm; Mon-Sat 5.30pm-10.30pm
Features Licensed, Accepts bookings, Vegetarian friendly, Outdoor seating, Gluten-free options, Wheelchair access
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Phone 02 8021 5944

On a scale of one (meh) to 10 (the horror, the horror), how much do restaurant manifestos and philosophies bother you? Personally, I've always been of the opinion that you shouldn't let a mission statement get in the way of a good time. And that's certainly the case here at this Surry Hills pizzeria.

At any rate, the fact these guys have such a thing at all is pretty sweet. And very, very funny. At one point, the manifesto (which is printed on the menu) suggests sharing the love, buying a piece of pizza for your neighbour and slipping it under their door. I haven't been this tempted to literally follow through on an act since I found out Australia Post lets you send live bees in the mail.

But I digress. This here is a slice with pedigree.

Pizzeria with pedigree: Al Taglio in Surry Hills.
Pizzeria with pedigree: Al Taglio in Surry Hills. Photo: Christopher Pearce

Pizzaiolo Enrico Sgarbossa opened a little over five months ago, having spent over a decade on the dough. A former miller and, as he wrote in an email to me, "the only flour technician in Australia". And the thing is, he's making focaccia and pizza bases unlike anyone else in the city.

He's proving the sourdough for the bases for 48 hours, creating an incredible depth of flavour. These aren't the charred and puffy things you might expect to see at say, Via Napoli, but rather crisp and flavoursome with a decent amount of chew.

Start with the spongy focaccia, crisped up around the edges and crusted in salt flakes, with ribbons of soft silky prosciutto. There's a little bruschetta to start as well – that dusty base, slightly blackened in patches, is covered in juicy tomato and dressed in olive oil. Actually, you could probably stop there. But there's "peas chips".

Focaccia with prosciutto.
Focaccia with prosciutto. Photo: Christopher Pearce

No, I didn't know what the devil a "peas chips" was until I asked, either. (Just in case you were wondering, they're green peas that have been cooked, mashed into a paste then dried into a sort of crisp.) They're used to accessorise a pizza of buffalo cream and ham on a tomato base.

So here you'll find the classics – a diavola, with spicy salami and piped buffalo cheese, and the old tried-and-true margherita – but there also a few off-piste options like the mortazza. Here, soft slices of mortadella laze on top of a base spread with cream cheese pepped up with rocket.

The other thing to note here is the dairy, outlandishly piped on the pizze like Kool Whip, which may be a little frustrating for anyone looking for what you'd typically think of as a Naples-style pie in Sydney, with those telltale blobs of hot melted mozzarella.

Life-affirming bruschetta.
Life-affirming bruschetta. Photo: Christopher Pearce

But what I really like about Sgarbossa's style is his care when it comes to the cured meats (all made specifically for the restaurant) and those excellent bases. They really are a cut above, and worth seeking out.

Oh, and if you're all about a sweet finish, make it the "birramisu" – a dark beer-infused tiramisu. Like everything else here, it works in its own idiosyncratic way.

The lowdown

This here is a slice with pedigree.

Pro Tip: Grab an outside table and a round of Spritzes and make the most of summer.

Go-to Dish: Don't miss the fresh-baked focaccia. For extra points, wrap a ribbon around the bread like a delicious carb-gift.

http://www.altaglio.com.au/