Indulgent: Creative offerings and an attention to detail score points at this Manly restaurant. Photo: Brianne Makin
Fried pizza is the kind of indulgence that comes with a generous side of food guilt and mandatory fourth course in a different location, namely the gym.
And not just for pilates.
But who can lay claim to this culinary novelty? Is it the Scots with their reputation for battering fast-food items and chocolate bars to pop in the deep fryer? Or the Italians, originators of the pizza?
Something for everyone: Ricotta, ham and tomato calzone. Photo: Brianne Makin
In this case, the Italians can take the credit (or blame, depending on your standpoint), and the batter-free result can be sampled at Manly's recently opened DeVita.
Folded like a crescent and filled with tomato and mozzarella that oozes out when cut, it tastes less like a pizza and more like a doughnut. All that's missing is the sugar and cinnamon on top. It's doughy stuff, high on the curiosity factor but not exactly a powerhouse of flavour. It's only a side attraction at DeVita, however. The main event is the non-fried pizza, cooked in a wood-fired oven imported from Italy.
Luca Canonico and Salvatore Leva's Italian restaurant is a family affair, taking its culinary cues from their home city of Naples. The chefs, the De Vita brothers, also come from Naples and are Leva's uncles. Vincenzo De Vita is head chef, and his brother Antonio looks after desserts.
Two styles of dining are offered. Sit at the bar and watch pizzaiolo Dino Mauro in action, working the dough, laying on the toppings and releasing it all into the heat of the oven. It's a good place to sit for a glass of wine or espresso.
Or dine at one of the tables, inside or out. The sleek modern fitout includes red bench seating along one wall hung with framed pictures. The bi-fold doors open right up, giving a breezy feel that works for the location, without veering towards the overly casual. Bring your family for a low-key lunch or early dinner, or pop by later for a meal and bottle of Australian or Italian wine with mates. The service is relaxed but attentive, which also suits the locale.
We share a plate of calamari fritti to start. The thinly sliced calamari are tender and not too oily, but need a good squeeze of lemon for flavour.
DeVita's creative pizzas offer something for everyone, from classics such as the marinara to the Stella, a five-pointed star version. The Neapolitan standard, the margherita, is a faithful rendition. The light, thin crust is perfectly cooked in the wood-fired oven, and generously topped with sweet tomato sauce, fior di latte mozzarella and fresh basil leaves. It's conveniently cut into quarters - pick up a piece, fold it over and eat. We find this is the only way to stop the filling from falling out. It's a mighty fine pizza.
Pasta, meat dishes and salads are on the menu, too. The large serving of gnocchi alla Sorrentina has house-made pillows of light gnocchi in a thick tomato sauce with mozzarella and parmesan. It's a good cheesy, tomatoey option for kids.
Desserts change regularly, but if the tiramisu is on offer, grab it. It's light, not too boozy and perfect to share, especially following that fried pizza.
The dessert menu has another interpretation we could have explored: deep-fried pizza dough served with Nutella. What time's the next gym class?
Wood-fired pizza and other Italian classics.
Margherita pizza, tiramisu.
3.5 (out of 5 stars)
- 02 8068 6751
- Cuisine - Italian
- Prices - Starters $12-$20, main courses $12-$24, pizzas $17-$42, dessert $8.
- Features - Family friendly, Outdoor seating, Licensed, Bar, Vegetarian friendly
- Chef(s) - Vincenzo De Vita , Antonio De Vita , Dino Mauro
- Owners - Luca Canonico, Salvatore Leva
- Opening Hours - Mon-Sun, lunch noon-4pm, dinner 5-10pm
- Author - Sarah McInerney