Before going to this restaurant its made me think of a greasy takeaway slice and a zero-character mainstream beer. Luckily, I was completely wrong.
My sister Gladys has got a new job (well, it’s not that new now) and she wanted to celebrate with us. A few options had crossed her mind but in the end she decided to satisfy her craving for traditional-style pizzas. According to the Everyday Eats guide (which lists good, relatively cheap restaurants), Pizza e Birra seemed to be a good option.
We arrived there well past lunch time but the place was still packed. After a brief wait we were assigned a table in the busy dining room. Service was prompt and attentive, and as other reviewers have noted, authentically Italian. Our waiter asked where we came from and we had an ice-breaker chat about our city.
It was clear we were there for the pizza but the delicious sounding ingredient combinations made it difficult for us to choose. Finally, we settled on an Inverno and a Sicilia pizza, plus a Caprese salad to share.
To drink, Gladys wanted a glass of Pinot Grigio but they didn’t have it. The waiter suggested one of the wines in the specials list, the Bombino Bianco Telero, which was very nice.
I had a bottle of birra. My Italian beer knowledge is extremely limited (Peroni and that’s it), so I asked the waiter for suggestions. The Ichnusa, a Sicilian low-alcohol beer was crisp and refreshing. Not a bad thing when the room’s temperature is fairly high from human warmth and hot pizzas.
Italian beer ($8)
All food came at once. Caprese salad may be one of the simplest salads in the world but it’s a delight when good ingredients are used. This was definitely the case. The Italian buffalo mozzarella was amazingly creamy and delicate, a pleasure to eat..
Caprese salad ($15)
Both of the pizzas we ordered had tomato sauce base. They were not piping hot when we got to eat them (after the photos and the salad), so the super thin and nicely toasted crust was a bit of a challenge to cut. The toppings were not piled up on top, which is the way a good pizza should be. I didn’t take note of the ingredients because I relied on the online menu but sadly it hasn’t been updated. If memory serves, the Inverno pizza had mozzarella, mushrooms, prosciutto and basil.
Inverno pizza ($23)
The Sicilia pizza, with mozzarella, fried eggplant, fresh ricotta and smoked provola, was my favourite of the two. Gladys and Alvaro liked the Inverno pizza better, but we all agreed they were both really good.
Sicilia pizza ($23)
Dessert time had arrived. We were almost full at this stage but couldn’t resist our sweet tooth. The pear and chocolate tartlet in the specials menu got our attention, as well as the panna cotta in the regular menu.
The panna cotta was excellent. Not over-set, which seems to be a common mistake in restaurants, and with an incredible flavour that can only be achieved with good quality vanilla. The poached quince was a nice complement, and quite rare as most restaurants prefer to use the paste.
Panna cotta w/poached quince ($12)
Unfortunately, the tartlet wasn’t that good. The crust was extremely hard and on the thick side, which made it really difficult to share. The filling was a dark chocolate ganache with poached pear slices on top. I’d have preferred a firmer, more moussey filling.
Tartalleta con pere e cioccolato ($12)
There were a couple of small incidents with the service but I attribute them to the fact that the restaurant was packed. When I got my beer, the waiter asked if I wanted a glass and I said yes. He forgot, so I got a glass from the bar. He noticed and apologised. Then when the food arrived we realised we didn’t have cutlery. I walked towards him and before I opened my mouth he asked if I needed something, apologised again and sorted things out.
Pizza e Birra
500 Crown Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
(02) 9332 2510