Owner of A25 South Yarra, Remo Nicolini, is no stranger to good Italian fare done well. Over the years, he has built a reputation for creating some of Australia’s best locations for pizza and could perhaps have been one of the major determinants in triggering the Melbourne pizza revolution. In fact, Remo has come a long way over the years since his humble beginnings at the celebrated Pizza Espresso in Templestowe. When he envisioned his A25 pizzeria, the concept was simple; he wanted to make great pizza at an affordable price. After all, as Remo says, “pizza is pizza”.
Despite relocating to one of Melbourne’s trendiest belts, the vibe at A25 remains laidback and stylishly understated with a cool modern space, open kitchen and street-side seating. Perhaps most convincing of all is that Remo’s passion for delivering the best produce he can to his dedicated customers is as strong as ever.
Remo is enthusiastic as he describes his deep appreciation for Neapolitan culture and cooking techniques. Although he enjoys being able to educate his Australian customers on what Neapolitan pizza is all about, he explains that it is the Italian customers who keep him on his toes as they become more adventurous with their cherished staple. Soon to open is his latest venture, A25 Espresso in Melbourne’s prominent Hardware Lane. Intriguingly, Remo says that his new outfit will feature the essence of traditional Italian cuisine influenced by Japanese flavours. In the meantime, he continues to concentrate on A25 South Yarra and plans to introduce some new dishes this week to herald the changing of the seasons.
The current menu at A25 is already fascinating; reading the titles makes you feel as if you have been nudged into the midst of a theatrical cast. Return customers tend to head straight for the Bunga Bunga [$17.50], which was awarded ‘Best Pizza 2013’ at A25’s sister pizzeria, NSP Docklands. Topped with fior di latte, tomato, Italian sausage, porcini mushrooms and Parmesan it is no wonder that this pizza is so popular. If you’re feeling bold, then try the L.S.D [$17.50]. Listed as one of A25’s ‘Crazy Pizzas’, this innocuous flavour explosion features Remo’s characteristic light, slightly wood-charred crust with a moist centre topped with the dulcet lusciousness of cream of dates and a sprinkling of liquorice dust. Radicchio provides a whisper of bitterness, though it is balanced well by the savouriness of Italian sausage, fior di latte and pecorino shavings.
If pasta is more your style, then opt for the squid ink tagliolini [$17.50]. Each dusky mouthful bursts with a hint of chilli, sweet crab, cherry tomatoes and cavolo nero.
Those with more subdued tastes really can’t go wrong with sharing plates such as the polenta chips with avocado mayo [$9.50] or deliciously well-seasoned meatballs [$9.50] topped with shavings of Parmesan. Don’t forget a side of bread to mop up the rich Napoli sugo sitting beneath.
To accompany the meal, there is a choice of Italian wines and cocktails, including the captivating citrus notes and sparkling Prosecco in an Aperol Spritz [$14]. For dessert, try the sweet calzone, which will take you to heaven in a honeyed bliss.
Otherwise, you simply can’t go past the rosewater pannacotta [$9]. Its layer of blueberry jelly and impressive mound of Persian fairy floss leave it looking somewhat akin to an alpine fairy-tale mountain.
With all these wonderful flavours, it’s easy to forget that there is no real secret behind A25, other than the honouring of old-world Italian tradition where the integrity of ingredients is paramount. The mozzarella is sourced locally, while the pizza bases are made using amazing southern Italian soft wheat flour with vital wheat germ. If there is any particular element that separates A25 from the rest, it is Remo’s abundance of experience and relentless passion to perfecting the evolution of pizza. The end product lives up to the creative virtuosity that precipitates it, making for a truly amazing pizza experience. It is little surprise then that this gem on Chapel Street is packed out every night of the week, both inside and out. If it’s anything to go by, then Remo’s latest venture, A25 Espresso, looks set to be a hit.
A25 South Yarra
Address: 720 Chapel Street, South Yarra, VIC
Contact: (03) 9826 2233
Hours: Open 7 days a week, 11:30am to 10pm
A25 Espresso will be located at 399 Lonsdale Street Melbourne and will open mid December 2015.
Photos by Serena Ho for the AU Review