Monday, October 08, 2007

The Pizza Rules

An Hawaiian Pizza

I'd never had cause to doubt cousin Howie's sanity before, but I'd definitely heard him say "lamb pizza" at least twice now and I was going to have to investigate. He'd mentioned the word "delicious" too. He'd always struck me as someone in charge of all of his mental faculties, but clearly he hadn't heard of the Pizza Rules.

Rule One: Only Italian Style, Pork-Based Meats.
Forgive me Rabbi, but there's no place on a pizza for lamb, chicken or beef. Pizzas need pork based products; salami, San Daniele and Parma are the pizza holy trinity. Oh, and anchovies. Even though they're not made of pork.

Rule Two: No Pineapple.
The Hawaiian pizza was invented in 1984 at Anglia Polytechnic by man called Gerald who, having smoked far too much weed, called his local pizza delivery place and basically tripped out. Seriously though, I've tried to find the origin of the Hawaiian pizza and it's shrouded in mystery. Which is a Bad Thing.

Rule Three: No Sweetcorn.
I might actually change this rule to no tinned stuff, because there's clearly a correlation between things from tins and badness on pizzas.

Rule Four. No Fusion.
Thai style satay with snow peas and roasted red onion.
Tandoori chicken with sweetcorn.
Roast duck with plum sauce and spring onions.
Ignoring the fact that satay isn't even from Thailand, all of these are the culinary equivalents of a nuclear war. If you want duck, go to a Chinese restaurant and have it with some nice pancakes. It's delicious.

You see, what's happened is that the pizza has become a sort of omni-cultural open sandwich. You wouldn't expect your local Indian restaurant to serve you a fish and chip biryani, so why do pizzerias prostitute themselves this way? Luckily there are some places that are trying to keep the flag flying for real pizza. RossoPomodoro, tucked away in White Bay in Balmain, is one such place. They have their own rules and make a very authentic, yeasty, Neapolitan pizza with a slightly floppy middle and a blistered crust. Their range is split into two- pizza rosso like the San Daniele and mozzarella one I had last time and pizza bianca, like the gorgonzola and prosciutto I first tried- and it's all the better for knowing what it does, and doing it well. This place is so popular it's impossible to just tip up on a Friday or a Saturday night but I'm happy enough to get take out and scarf half of my pizza by the time we've driven home. Because everyone knows that the final rule is

Rule Five: No delivery pizza. Because there's nothing worse for pizza than a 2km bike ride in a steamy cardboard box.

Oh, and the lamb pizza? It's at the Centennial Hotel and it's not bad at all. The base is thin crust, a little floppy and too crisp at the edges, with a rich tomato and aubergine topping. This would have been enough for me, and while not authentic at all, it was delicious enough. It was topped with a couple of large, rare, char grilled lamb filets. Well, you wouldn't serve a steak and kidney pie with a Cornish pasty garnish, and the lamb pizza had about the same cohesion. If they'd rolled the whole thing up and served with with a slick of the Caesar sauce that came with, I would have been very happy with my kebab.

RossoPomodoro is at Shop 90/91, 24 Buchanan Street, Balmain. Call 02 9555 5924
The Centennial Hotel is at 88 Oxford Street, Woollhara. Call 02 9362 3838