9 Shaw St Bexley North, NSW 2207
|Opening hours||Wednesday-Friday 5-10pm, weekends 3-10pm (lockdown hours, takeaway only)|
|Prices||Cheap (mains under $20)|
When My Mother's Cousin first opened in July, orders for their New York City-style pizza and wings were walk-in and cash only.
Even after the Eftpos machine arrived, and orders moved to phone and then online bookings, the popularity of MMC's food meant daily order time-slots were gone before noon.
The pizza parlour's success was a sweetener for owners Sal Senan and brother-and-sister team Hussein and Amani Rachid, former owners of Lebanese bakery Nineteen 43 in Rockdale.
Having initially delayed MMC's opening due to lockdown 2.0 they took the plunge a month later, encountering a raft of fans for traditional Italian-style pizzas, chicken wings with five sauces, arancini balls, mozzarella sticks, crispy apple pie and soft-serve ice-cream.
We order at 7am, after setting a wake-up alarm, and arrive 10 hours later at dusk for our pick-up. Already an ordered queue has formed down MMC's quiet Bexley North street. Staff are working furiously at the front counter and kitchen. A passing masked woman asks, "Are the pizzas good?" before joining the line. Lockdown in our LGA of concern breeds a special sort of excitement.
Peering through the gold-lettered front windows reveals an interior both unused by customers and a trip to old-school NYC pizza parlours, replete with nifty red booths, etched glass lamps and black-and-white chequered floors.
The kitchen, wrapped in a tall curving counter, is framed by see-through shelving stacked with pizza boxes behind lit-up panels stencilled with "Pizza", "Wings", "Shakes", "Soft Serve" and "Pie".
Opposite, on a wall declaring MMC "proudly pineapple free since 1983", are dozens of New York City-inspired photographs including framed snaps of Seinfeld's cast, Manhattan Island landmarks, scenes from '70s-'80s sitcom Taxi and various rappers with backward caps and "I am very cross" stares.
The best is a photo of cast members from Welcome Back, Kotter, a 1970s sit-com that not only featured John Travolta in corduroy flares but the excellent hyena-like laugh of the late actor Ron Pailillo as "Sweathog" student Arnold Horshack.
The food arrives on the footpath in an ordered flurry of huge paper bags, tubs of gravy, pizza boxes, containers of chicken wings and apple pie with instructions to put the soft serve ice-cream into the freezer, pronto.
Back home, it's minutes before the white cheese 13-incher, with garlic confit, smoked scarmoza, pecorino, ricotta, caramelised onion, fresh shallots and parsley is declared outstanding.
This is swiftly almost-trumped by the OG Roni, a vast 15-inch pepperoni-laden pie with fior di latte, pomodoro, fresh basil and parmigiano-reggiano.
Debate rages among New York natives over whether it is best to eat NYC pizza slices folded or unfolded. The pro-folders believe this prevents hot cheese burning the mouth with more efficient chewing and walking possibilities.
The anti-folders declare this behaviour as rushed-eating while decrying the loss of individual ingredient flavours mushed together.
Our only rule is no knives and forks. Pizza-covered fingers move between MMC's succulent chicken wings, each dipped in hot peppery gravy, and gooey arancini balls that are plonked into richly fragrant tomato sauce.
Brief hand-wipes on anything nearby allow us to grasp golden slabs of apple pie, reminiscent of McDonald's version, but fruitier with richer pastry and the jubilant add-on of soft serve that favours creamy vanilla rather than sugar.
Set the alarm, get in the queue, stand outside the door until they open. My Mother's Cousin will be a sit-down triumph one day soon but, for now, it's a classy jewel of pick-up pizza perfection.
My Mother's Cousin
Main attraction: New York City-style wings and pizza pies, 15 and 13-inch, crispy in the middle, thick on the crust wth classic toppings.
Must-try dish: The white cheese 13-incher, with garlic confit, smoked scarmoza, pecorino, ricotta, caramelised onion, fresh shallots and parsley.
Insta-worthy dish: The OG Roni, a vast pepperoni-laden pie with fior di latte, pomodoro, fresh basil and parmigiano-reggiano. Fold a slice to eat NYC-style.
Drinks: House-made lemonade $8; still water, sparkling water, soft drinks $4.50; non-alcoholic beer $7; Chocolate malt shakes $9