Vacanza in the Hills

414 Bourke Street, Surry Hills, NSW

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Vacanza in Surry Hills
Less is more ... Vacanza in Surry Hills. Photo: Sasha Woolley

Sarah McInerney

The ''less is more'' philosophy is applied at Vacanza in the Hills with dedication and to great effect.

It's the in-house pizza rule, but could also be the general motto of this pizzeria and mozzarella bar, which serves simple, classic dishes done well, with good service, excellent people-watching and a casual atmosphere that escalates from relaxed to buzzing as the night goes on.

If you like your pizza piled high with toppings and cheese oozing from the crust, try somewhere else. If you like a thin, crispy pizza made with quality ingredients and the option of BYO or a short but decent list of local and Italian wines, come on in.

The Margherita pizza at Vacanza.
The Margherita pizza at Vacanza.

This Surry Hills restaurant is the second to fly the Vacanza flag; the original is on Bronte Road in Waverley. The new location is at the busy intersection of Bourke and Fitzroy streets, with lots of foot and road traffic whizzing past. Windows all around give a good view of the comings and goings.

The menu firmly sets the scene. ''The Italian philosophy on toppings is less is more and Vacanza could not agree more,'' it reads. In fact, changes and modifications are ''politely declined, unless it's a matter of life or death''. Quibbles are unnecessary - there are more options to pique the interest than the belly can possibly hold in one sitting.

Inside, the decor is a mix of rustic and contemporary. A meat slicer sits out in the open, getting a good workout from the many orders of parma prosciutto and pizza with hot sopressa. There are distressed-brick walls, plus one decorated with stencils of bare-breasted women in a Bettie Page-esque pose, which is a little incongruous with the rest of the decor.

Take your pick of the seating - outside or in, communal, counter or table. Every option is in use tonight. A mother dines with her daughter. Couples pop in for a meal and a carafe of the house chianti. Groups of friends stop by for a feed after the cricket, and a family shares a few dishes before heading home.

The common theme on all of the tables is pizza. The crispy, thin bases are cut into quarters and there's the option of ''rosse'' or ''bianche'' - with tomato sauce or without - as well as takeaway.

But first, the buffalo mozzarella bar beckons. We dive into the creamy delights of a large globe - 125 grams to be exact. It is marvellous on its own, or with the salty, warm goodness of freshly baked rosemary focaccia, topped with a few splashes of chilli oil or prosciutto.

Buffalo mozzarella also stars on the ''Brandi'' bufalina margherita pizza. The ''rosse'' base is topped with cheese slices and basil leaves. Fresh, simple and delicious.

The Vacanza pizza is dotted with roasted mushrooms, Italian fior di latte cow's milk mozzarella and pecorino shavings. The strong taste of truffle oil gives it a decadent touch without being over the top.

Dessert is the only disappointment. The Nutella and ricotta calzone doesn't quite get the ratio of filling to dough right, with overly chewy results.

''Vacanza'' means holiday in Italian, but a visit to this place could easily become part of a midweek dining repertoire. It's hard to go past a perfectly cooked pizza and a few glasses of vino on a casual night out.

Recommended dishes

Focaccia al rosmarino, buffalo mozzarella, parma prosciutto, marinated Sicilian olives, ''Brandi'' bufalina margherita pizza, the Vacanza pizza, mista Vacanza salad.

Rating

Four stars (out of 5)

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414 Bourke Street, Surry Hills, NSW

  • 02 8964 6414
  • Cuisine - Italian
  • Prices - Focaccia $7 to $12; mozzarella bar $5 to $16; pizza $19.90 to $22.90; salads $8 to $17; dessert $10 to $14.
  • Features - BYO, Licensed, Outdoor seating
  • Opening Hours - Tues-Sun, 5.30pm-late; Fri, noon-3pm.
  • Author - Sarah McInerney
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