|Making pizza in wood-fired oven|
It sure is, I'm telling you.
Plus, I get very excited for wood-fired oven. There's something magical about it.
So we were here for my birthday lunch with the big family; Napoli in Bocca in Haberfield, a suburb which might as well be the little Italy in Sydney. The restaurant doesn't look that big from front view, but go inside and you may be surprised about how spacious it is.
The setting of the place is really nice, it has homey and familiar feeling, it is almost like we're dining at an Italian mother's house or something. Some vintage props are stealing attention, but the menu is just a simple laminated paper. A big paper.
|Decorations, props & the menu|
Right next to the entry is the pizza making station, complete with the magical wood-fired oven. Everything is made fresh, and you can actually see the chefs making your orders of the delicious wheels. I had some conversation with the chef while he was making the pizza, and he was very friendly and happy to explain the pizzas he was constructing.
|Pizza making & the wood-fired oven|
Then the problem started bugging. I guess they were a bit short on the day, we counted and there were only two staffs serving on the floor (excluding the pizza man and cashier). It wasn't particularly busy, but we did have to wait for sometime to get our orders taken and the food to be served.
So when our entree of Pizza Aglio (oil & garlic) came, we attacked it like hungry hyenas. It was gone in a matter of minutes, and we were practically tapping our shoes for more after that.
The bad thing about being so starving and the quite long serving time is that I was blinded with hunger and failed to appreciate the flavour of what entered my mouth, and I am always cranky when I am hungry.
Crankiness aside, this garlic pizza makes a great appetizer with its sharp garlic flavour & aroma, but not that sharp to make you want to grab your toothbrush afterwards. The pizza base is cooked beautifully; thin, crispy, with some smoky burnt edges.
|Pizza Aglio (oil & garlic) - $12|
We had to wait for quite a time after the garlic pizza, and you know it's bad enough when the table scoffed bowls of salad in no time, right after it was served. I mean, they were supposed to be sides, were they not?
Man, we were starving.
Anyway, the salads are fresh and dressed simply but nicely, and I prefer the mixed Italian salad compared to the Rucola (rocket) because the latter is a bit too bitter for me.
|Rucola ($9.5) and mixed Italian salads ($8.5)|
Thankfully, the pasta dishes came quicker, and I found that it was really hard to share the two plates equally among 15-ish people when we were really hungry.
They don't have so varied options of pasta dishes (there are lots of pizza choices though), and they aren't done so fancy either. But hey, they say less is more, and that's what you'll get here.
Gnocchi Rosa is like a plate of perfectly-cooked, fluffy cloud of potato dumplings, blanketed with lovely, creamy napoletana (tomato-based) sauce. Unison thumbs up from around the table.
|Gnocchi Rosa (homemade potato dumplings in Napoletana sauce with a touch of cream) - $19.9|
Risotto Napoli is no difference. Cooked perfectly, packed of delicious flavours, adequate amount of chicken and mushrooms throughout. I wanted more.
BTW, is it true that perfect risotto is super difficult to make?
|Risotto Napoli (rice, Napoletana sauce, mushroom & chicken pieces) - $19.9|
We tried six types of pizza in offer, some were multiplied into two pans because they were so good and we had such a big appetite. It was quite a challenge to stop the hands reaching the pizzas before I took proper pictures, so I had to move fast. Now you are convinced we were so hungry we couldn't spare a second to Insta-brag them, right?
This one is my absolute favourite. For a girl who 'never seems to have enough cheese on her pizza', 4 Formaggi (4 cheeses: mozzarella, parmesan, bocconcini, gorgonzola) shut my mouth. The pizza base is faultless; thin, crispy, smoky. The cheese stretches sexily like a ballerina, and seasoned very nicely too. Less is more, indeed.
|4 Formaggi (mozzarella, parmesan, bocconcini, gorgonzola) - $21|
Scugnizzo (tomato, mozzarella, ham and hot salami) also got some highlight of the day. Topped with crispy, salty and slightly spicy salami, it is only normal to see some fighting for its last slice.
|Scugnizzo (tomato, mozzarella, ham & hot salami) - $19.5|
Pizza Bruschetta (diced fresh tomatoes, garlic, olive oil & basil) is supposed to be entree, I guess, but we had no problem having it as the main. It was the mother's favourite, and I can see why. It's fresher and tangier (no cheese, you see) than the other pizzas on the table, it is almost like a palate cleanser. Another perfect example of less is more, I reckon?
|Pizza Bruschetta (diced fresh tomatoes, garlic, olive oil & basil) - $17|
The others that joined our party were Caprese (tomato, bocconcini, basil & olive oil) and Rucola (tomato, mozzarella, rucola parmesa/rocket, olive oil & prosciutto crudo). Both were enjoyed very much, especially with some chilli oil and parmesan powder.
|Caprese (tomato, bocconcini, basil & olive oil) - $20|
|Rucola (tomato, mozzarella, rucola parmesa, olive oil & prosciutto crudo) - $22|
After two bowls of salad, two plates of pasta, and 7 or 8 pans of pizza (if I am not mistaken), our big group finally settled down. However, we still have three or four pans of pizza in pending status, and we finally decided to wait no more and get them straight for take away.
4 Stagioni is probably the most 'crowded' pizza of the day, consisting of tomato, mozzarella, prosciutto, olives, mushrooms, and egg. I particularly like the egg part; it makes the pizza moist somehow. And those thin slices of prosciutto? To die for.
You may think that we were pizza drunk by the time we went home, but we polished this one in no time at all. No such thing as too many pizzas, eh?
|4 Stagioni (tomato, mozzarella, prosciutto crudo, olives, mushrooms & eggs) - $21|
So in a nutshell, we had a great time but it would be so much appreciated if the service was better i.e. we could have someone to get our orders quicker, and also get food on the table faster. But I guess every restaurant has its bad day, and from the cousin's experience, dining in smaller groups seems to get better fare in the service and serving time.
Nevertheless, I had such an unforgettable Italian experience here, especially with the pizzas. In the end, I didn't go out saying ciao bitterly.
P.S. The birthday feast hadn't ended just like this. We had the most amazing ricotta cheesecake, which will be up soon so stay tuned!
Currency: $1 = IDR 9,200
Rating: 3.5/5 (Really worth the try)
Excellent pizzas and pasta dishes, price is reasonable, ambiance is nice and suitable for large groups, service may need some improvement.
NAPOLI IN BOCCA
73 Dalhousie St
Haberfield, NSW 2045
Phone: (02) 9798 4096
Web: Napoli in Bocca