Oozing corner store charm, Pizza Madre adds a deep red glow to an otherwise industrial corner of Marrickville. Even on a night plagued by torrential downpours, it’s rammed, with a queue waiting for an inside table to escape the overflowing storm-water drains that threaten to spill over onto the pavement.
Inside you’ll find two simply furnished rooms packed with people, with the front room dominated by a large round pizza oven. We pull up on a high marble table with stools on two sides, and a wooden window seat on the other.
Both the menu and the drinks list are single page affairs. Catching up with a mate, we’re in the mood to wine, so kick off with the Express Winemakers Chenin Blanc ($15/glass) a minimal intervention wine from the Great Southern in Western Australia. With lime, chalkiness and an interesting funky rumble, it’s easy to drink with or without waiting for your pizza. Looking more like borscht than pinot noir, the unfiltered Good Intentions Wine Co. Noir Dee Toot Dah ($16/glass) is actually more fun than it first seemed: think sour cherry soup with the tart fruit overlaying something dirty, earthy and rather delicious.
Owners Piero Pignatti Morano and Kim Douglas, who are also behind Two Chaps café that’s located a few blocks away, have kept a little continuity between their businesses by using their sourdough starter (rather than yeast) in the Pizza Madre dough. They’re living a buy-local ethos by using Australian flour (rather than imported Italian 00 flour) in their puffy and blistered Neapolitan-influenced sourdough bases. The bases are soft and chewy, with an earthy, faintly tart, smoky flavour.
The softness makes the sweet’n’smoky Butternut Squash Pizza ($27) with walnuts, purple trevisano radicchio leaves, fior di latte, smoked garlic oil and generous splats of buttermilk ricotta, a knife-and-fork job. I’m impressed with the topping – while not classic Italian, it’s certainly complex and delicious, and leaves me enough unadorned real estate to appreciate the base.
It edges out a Potato Pizza ($26) that teams the expected thinly sliced spuds with fior di latte, English spinach, smoked cheddar and fried capers, then drizzles the lot with vividly green watercress purée. While it’s tasty enough, it does have me reaching for the (slightly disappointing) house-made chilli oil to inject some heat. What impressed me most about Pizza Madre is the effort they’ve gone to in creating flavoursome bases with interesting, high quality toppings to ensure you won't miss seafood or meat.
Shop 2, 205 Victoria Road, Marrickville
Ph: none provided