Walking away with the title of best pizza in Australia is nothing to be taken lightly. That’s exactly what Lucio De Falco did at this year’s authoritative World Pizza Championships, snatching the title from the usual suspects and bringing it home to his two Sydney restaurants, Darlinghurst’s acclaimed Lucio and its more recently opened Zetland location. What’s more is that this was the first year in which Lucio competed in the championships, attracting much attention with his award-winning signature STG (specialita traditionale garantita) which highlights the traditional Naples style with ease.
Lucio has long been known as one of the country’s best pizzerias, so it’s of little surprise to find the modestly sized restaurant completely full on a breezy Saturday evening. They had just opened for dinner service and were already at capacity by the time I sat down, jumping straight onto the menu with a swift order of the kitchen’s fantastic Antipasto Misto ($36.50). The towering platter is full from end-to-end with antipasto, all fresh and full of flavour with the buffalo mozzarella and polenta being the highlights. It’s proof that Lucio’s isn’t just all pizza, although their Fiori di Zucchini ($21.50) flowers filled with ricotta and parmesan are tasteless and disappointing, despite generous in serving.
There’s plenty to try here by way of antipasto, but unless you’re in a large group it’s best to stick to maybe one or two and save room for the pizza. Not that the pizza is too demanding on the stomach; Lucio’s dough is exceedingly light and floppy, with a couple of slices not even making a dent on the appetite, although whetting it with plenty of taste. Those with a particular love of the authentic need but take a bite of the STG to fall in love; it’s not overdone, balanced exceptionally well, and remains one of the best and freshest Naples-indebted pizzas in town.
Though lovers of more unconventional pizza toppings also get a nice little nod here. The Rustica ($21) is a menu highlight, the flavour given room to stretch across the palate thanks to the light and unintrusive dough. On top you’ll get a decent spread of mozzarella, sausages, potatoes and rosemary and a taste that is creamy and soft with a very salty (though not overly so) aftertaste. Those not a fan of their salt need but look elsewhere on the menu, Lucio has grown their range to a nice point, from the tempting Napoletana with tomato, olives, capers, anchovies and oregano, to the Tartufata with mozzarella, porcini mushroom, proscuitto and truffle oil. Of course, the crowd favourite here remains the Lucio ($24) which is a half margherita and half calzone creation topped with ricotta, mozzarella and ham.
The kitchen doesn’t seem to put much stock in their dolci but the few options are all well-priced and light enough to end the night without overdoing it. Those just looking for something light should go for the 3 scoops of Gelato at $9, but the biggest player here is the traditional Tiramisu ($10.50) which has become such a standard option at Italian restaurants that it always seems unexciting; not this one though, it’s a meticulously made dessert highlighting that when it comes to Italian food, tradition is always the way to go.
Address: 248 Palmer St, Darlinghurst
Contact: (02) 9332 3766
Images by Nikki To.