Two years on and food lovers across Sydney are still reeling over the closure of Surry Hills’ treasured Pizza Mario. The highly celebrated pizzeria was long-established as one of the very best this city has ever seen, and its unfortunate closure in 2015 was a huge hit to the otherwise rich and consistent Italian dining scene across the city. Though the blow was somewhat softened by the news that Da Mario, the owners’ spin-off which opened in Rosebery in 2013, would remain open, boasting the same award-winning pizza located in a barely-formed dining district that has long been known for quality over quantity.
The industrial-looking surrounds of Morley Avenue are mirrored in the fairly plain and rustic interior at Da Mario, presenting a no-fuss warehouse space with the usual raw brick walls, exposed pipes and plenty of character coming from the use of antique and vintage wine barrels as well as a large, open kitchen space through which guests can spot pasta machines and an enormous pizza oven that has been shipped over from Naples. For such an open space it feels nice and cosy, even more so out on the deck with plenty of natural light.
The smell of fresh dough wafts across the space as groups of diners greedily tear into pizza and wash it down with classic Italian cocktails, like the beautifully made signature Negroni. The pizza selection is generous, varied and tempting enough to narrow your vision and block out pretty much everything else, event dolci. That’d be a bit foolish though, specially since the commitment to keeping things traditional and full of flavour extends to every bit of this menu.
As such, essentials from the antipasti include the light and fluffy Caprese ($18) with fresh buffalo mozzarella, tomato and basil soaked in a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. That’s the lighter side of the antipasti menu, but if you’re feeling a bit more indulgent try something heavier like the Provola ($15). It’s some grilled provolone cheese that’s been drizzled in honey and oregano, a pull-apart serving that’s generous enough to share but addictive enough that you’ll want one all to yourself.
Pasta here is decent but nowhere near as memorable as the pizza. Still, if you’re in the mood an order of Tagliatelle al Ragu ($25) will go far, presented as a tower of fresh tagliatelle pasta dripping from the hearty ragu and topped with parmesan.
Sticking to the particulars of Naples obviously means a lot to the team at Da Mario, which is why the pizza here is so just damn good. The crust is puffy around the edges but soft and chewy in the middle, the smell of wood-ash rising from the char – the texture is faultless, although the salt may be a bit too much for some. Order up just about anything here and you’re guaranteed a satisfying meal, although some top picks would be the Speck e Fontina ($25) with mozzarella, smoked proscuitto and fontina cheese. For a tomato base order up with Margherita con Bresaola ($26), which is topped with plenty of freshly sliced wagyu bresaola, wild rocket and parmesan.
Without a doubt Da Mario has one of the best value Tiramisu ($12) in Sydney, perfectly layered and dense while still light and fluffy without an overpowering palate of coffee. Though it’s the summery Hazelnut Semifreddo ($12) which is the best of the dolci, with fresh strawberries neatly jutting out of the surface, which is layered with white chocolate. It’s perfectly fine to opt for a few scoops of gelato though, sourced from the always reliable RivaReno Gelato.
Address: 36 Morley Ave, Rosebery NSW 2018
Contact: (02) 9669 2242
Hours: Fri-Sun 12pm-3pm (lunch); Tues-Sun 5pm-late (dinner)