The Limoncello Spritz ($14) should be the palate cleanser of your Sydney summer.
Made with limoncello, Prosecco and soda, then garnished with mint, it’s light, bright and refreshing, and – just like Solo – you can slam it down fast.
It’s even better when consumed in the transportive surrounds of Pizzeria da Alfredo’s upper dining room.
With windows onto a plant-lined terrace and a fresco scene enhanced with a mock balcony along one wall, the room feels like dining in the piazza of a small Italian town.
Hanging copper pots, loaded grapevines and bunches of mock chillies hung as if to dry from exposed dark timber rafters, all add to the effect.
Restaurant Manager Nino Di Donato is a big, welcoming presence. He greets everyone with bella (beautiful) or bello (handsome), and his enthusiasm is contagious. Right from the outset, I want to like this restaurant.
And I do like it, starting with Truffle Polenta Chips ($17), stacked like the beginnings of Jenga over a luxurious puddle of four-cheese sauce. They’re better than Bloodwood – and the memory of their polenta chips with Gorgonzola sauce has been my benchmark for the last eight years.
Di Donato’s dexterous wine and food service steering us away from ordering double dough - as enticing as those dough pockets sounded - and towards a more sensible Swordfish Carpaccio ($23).
Topped with lemon, capers, olive oil and boiled potato, this clever plate of thinly sliced game fish shows you just why salad Niçoise is such a thing. It’s great with Prosecco ‘Millesimato’ Val d’Oca DOC ($12/glass) from Veneto (the geographic region governed by Venice), which coats your mouth with fruit sugar then dries up nicely without being either too sweet, too dry, or too frothy.
Paccheri Genovese ($28) is pretty much a perfect pasta dish. Chewy fat tubes of pasta (paccheri) are served with a meaty white ragu. The textural beef has been slow-cooked for hours with carrots and onions, and has bags of flavour, without needing to be drowned in too much cheese. It's the kind of dish that wants to cuddle up with a nice glass of red; and Di Donato will help you find your perfect match from the succinct Italian list. He'll also let you bring your own wine selection.
Despite the obvious lure of the domed wood fire oven that dominates the lower dining space, manned by chef and owner, Alfredo Repole, himself, I find myself ordering the Calzone Fritto ($22).
This classic Neapolitan street food, is made from folded, deep fried pizza dough stuffed with ricotta, Fior di Latte mozzarella, thin strips of mild salami, basil, black pepper and enough tomato to turn it the interior pink. It arrives looking rather majestic on a brown paper-covered wooden board.
It's a visceral pleasure to puncture it with a knife and watch it deflate into what proves to be a surprisingly supple and fluffy calzone that is tasty and oil-free against the wet and simple stuffing.
Sated and smiling, on the way out I pause to watch Repole expertly wrangle classic Neapolitan pizzas inside his oak-fueled, 500-degree Celsius oven.
With thin, elastic bases and puffy blistered crusts, I get the distinct feeling I might have saved the best bit of Pizzeria da Alfredo for my return visit, forthwith.
Pizzeria Da Alfredo
331 Glebe Point Road, Glebe
Ph: (02) 8964 9612