Alessandro Bollino of Gemma Simply Italian.
Alessandro Bollino of Gemma Simply Italian. Photo: Pat Scala

Hilary McNevin and Roslyn Grundy

When Alessandro Bollino's lawyer heard he was planning to open a pizza joint ''off-Lygon'' in Carlton, he told Bollino (pictured) he was crazy. ''But it felt right, so I am doing it,'' says the Naples-born pizzaiolo, who owned a pizza restaurant in Auckland for 10 years before moving to Melbourne a year ago. He's named his new place Gemma Simply Italian after his mother, and ''because I want people to understand that Italian food is simple and not expensive''.

The 58-seat dining room has exposed brick walls and a simple Italianesque decor. Bollino's focus is on pizza and gnocchi, based on authentic flavours he grew up with. Italian sausage with friarielli, like broccolini, has been the favourite topping. Gemma Simply Italian is licensed and BYO (wine only). Open daily 5pm-late and Sunday noon-2.30pm.

Details: Gemma Simply Italian, 183 Elgin Street, Carlton, 9349 2835.