D.O.C. Pizza and Mozzarella Bar review

Go-to-dish: Pizza napoletana, $23.
Go-to-dish: Pizza napoletana, $23. Photo: Wolter Peeters

78 Campbell St Surry Hills, NSW 2010

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Opening hours Mon-Wed 5pm-late; Thu-Sun noon-late
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Phone 02 9211 1507

Such a simple formula: mozzarella, pizza and wine. "Nothing fancy," says the Italian waiter. "Nothing special." But it is special, when someone nails their flag to the wall and says, this is what I do; take it or leave it.

The Melbourne team behind D.O.C. has been doing "nothing fancy" pretty effectively since opening their first restaurant in Carlton in 2007.

They now have a collection of pizza restaurants, mozzarella bars and food stores across Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula, and have just squeezed their first Sydney venture into a narrow gullet of a space in the lower reaches of Campbell Street, Surry Hills.

D.O.C. has a good vibe, smiley staff, squeezy tables and a cool marble bar.
D.O.C. has a good vibe, smiley staff, squeezy tables and a cool marble bar. Photo: Wolter Peeters

We do well for pizza in Sydney, with a good mix of old and new-school pizzerie committed to the traditional wood-fired oven, from Lucio's and Gigi's to Da Mario, Via Napoli and Bella Brutta. So what can Melbourne offer us that the locals can't?

It's not immediately clear. Executive chef Gabriele Torre, who flies between Melbourne and Sydney, uses a mix of doppio zero and wholemeal flours, and a four-day ferment, to give structure and flavour to the dough.

The menu runs through variations on a theme of mozzarella, salumi and pizza as well as a couple of daily specials. Pizza San Daniele ($27) has splodges of fior di latte mozzarella and a good smoosh of San Marzano tomato sugo, topped post-oven with chunks of fresh buffalo mozzarella and pink furls of nutty San Daniele prosciutto.

Classic insalata caprese.
Classic insalata caprese.  Photo: Wolter Peeters

Better is a classic napoletana ($23), with the same good sugo, fior di latte mozzarella, good and salty anchovies, Ligurian olives and a dusting of dried oregano.

D.O.C.'s major limitation is an electric oven. I've had good pizza from an electric oven, but I've never had great pizza. Both pizzas hold up to being eaten in the hand but feel a little underbaked to my taste.

They're polite, mainstream pizzas, with no aggressive crust or punchy pops of flavour.

Keeping it simple with a salumi board.
Keeping it simple with a salumi board.  Photo: Wolter Peeters

It's the same with the salumi platter, a decent mix of locally made mortadella and wagyu bresaola and imported prosciutto and thick, chunky salame ($25). You can order burrata, bruschetta and buffalo mozzarella as well, all acceptable.

A caprese salad ($16) is chunky with thick slices of beefsteak tomato (always a good call) and torn clumps of buff-mozz, with two small pools of cheesy pesto and a balsamic glaze.

My tip: the fresh cheeses are more enjoyable on a pizza than on their own, and the salumi are better on their own than on a pizza.

Traditional meat lasagne is done for maximum comfort food kicks.
Traditional meat lasagne is done for maximum comfort food kicks. Photo: Wolter Peeters

There is one pasta on the menu, probably because the kitchen at the rear is a shoe-box. A big slab of lasagne ($25) comes in both meat and meat-free (eggplant) versions and is done for maximum comfort-food ticks; the pasta soft and almost indistinguishable from the meat, sauce and cheese. It's hot on the outside and just-warm in the middle, with an acidic aftertaste.

For dessert, cassata ($12) sounds like the sweet ricotta and candied fruit torta of Sicily but mine is a single-serve frozen confection.

D.O.C. has a good vibe, smiley staff, squeezy tables and a cool marble bar that's a fun place to sit for antipasti and aperitivi.

It's just good, everyday Italian, with attention paid to cheese, to dough and to wine. Nothing fancy. Nothing too special, either.

The low-down

Vegetarian: Two antipasti, four salads, four pizzas, one meat-free lasagne.

Drinks: Italian spritzes, cocktails and beers, plus a good list of mainly Italian varieties (several imported by D.O.C.), including a fresh, fragrant Marcarini Roero Arneis ($14/$65) that's a good pizza buddy.

Go-to-dish: Pizza napoletana, $23.

Pro tip: You can order a gluten-free pizza base, for an extra $3.