Nutella pizza where have you been all my life? Of course I’ve seen dessert pizzas on menus around town but I had never been tempted to try one until I was invited along to a dinner for bloggers and journalists at newly opened Itali.Co in St Kilda. All those nutella pizzas I haven’t eaten over the years? Big mistake by me. Huge mistake.
Itali.Co is the latest restaurant from Remo Nicollini and master pizza maker Lino Maglione. They are the pair who started (and sold) award winning pizzerias +39 and now have Itali.co in Sorrento and Non Solo Pasta which may be the only decent place in the Docklands right now. The restaurant is at the bottom of an apartment block and is modern and stark – all hard angles and polished concrete.
Nicollini describes the menu at Itali.Co as being the most serious of all his restaurants. That Itali.Co is not just a pizza and pasta joint is underlined by dishes like the slow cooked boneless rack of rabbit ($16.50) which is rolled and wrapped in prosciutto showing serious technique. You also wouldn’t find beef cheek cooked so slowly that it disintegrates when you cut it at most local Italian restaurants.
It’s not all perfect. Fat scallops ($14.50) bronzed from the frying pan are perfectly cooked but the wobbly cauliflower pannacotta they are served with detract from the seafood and there’s too much of it.
Itali.Co sets out to be more than a pizza and pasta place but the pizza and pasta is where it really excels. The pasta is made by hand and you can really taste the difference in the squid ink tagliolini ($21.50) which uses fresh squid ink. It’s great pasta – slippery with that hint of the sea which goes well with the blue swimmer crab and mussels.
The pizza is cooked in a Marana oven which spits out the pizzas in three minutes flat after scorching them at 400 degrees. This baby cost $50,000 and the pizzas are perfection with a base that is just the right thickness and crisp while still being pliant. It doesn’t have the charred taste you get in a wood fired oven but its certainly consistent. Of the toppings on offer there’s the award winning Bunga Bunga ($18.50) with the Silvio Berlusconi combination of Italian sausage, smoked scamorza and friarielli, an Italian broccoli. But I’m a firm believer that when it comes to pizza, simple is the best. So my vote goes to the Regina Margherita with its minimal toppings of tomato, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil ($15).
As for the dessert pizza? It’s sensational. There’s that same great pizza base, smeared with rich Nutella, sprinkled with chopped fresh strawberries and served with a scoop of vanilla bean ice-cream ($8.50). I think I’ve found my new guilty pleasure.
Gourmet Chick was invited to review Itali Co.
Details: Itali.Co, 1/173-177 Barkly Street, St Kilda (Ph +61 3 9537 5300) Open: 5pm till late 7 days a week.
Damage: Reasonable. But on this occasion I did not pay.