428 Crown St
Surry Hills, NSW 2010
Picture this: pizza, but deep fried. But not that horrible American thing where they coat it in a thick layer of batter before dunking it into vat of oil. Think instead Neapolitan-styled pizzas filled with gourmet ingredients, flash-fried until golden and puffy. Intrigued? So was I, and that’s why I’m here at Pizza Fritta 180.
Every time I wander through the area, I can’t help but notice Pizza Fritta. Located right on the corner of a busy intersection, the bustling al fresco dining (bolstered cleverly by pedestrians waiting at the intersection) and vivid mural seems to promise a great time, and that’s not even taking into account the fried pizza bit.
When we actually went inside however, I have to admit I was a wee bit disappointed. Although fried pizza is meant to be street food, the namesake restaurant goes a little bit beyond that, and not in a good way. I imagine they were going for a local bar-and-eatery sort of thing, but the sterile ambience of it gave the place more of a fast-food vibe. It also didn’t help that the doors were left wide open for the freezing draught to blow through.
But anyway, let’s move on to the important bit – the pizza. There were about a dozen very tantalising flavours on offer, with the option of small or large for each. We decided on one of each size to share, the first of which was the Nonna Rosa ($25, large), which arrived delightfully blimp-like and golden.
The first thing that’ll hit you is the smell of fried dough. But instead of the expected grease, what you have is a sweet, bready aroma without a hint of oil. Beneath the tissue-thin golden shell is a layer of soft, chewy pizza dough, and a centre of stretchy provolone, ripe tomatoes, and salty pepperoni. When eaten fresh, this really is street food at its finest.
On the recommendation of our waitress, we also ordered the Elena ($20, small). Now this thing means business. Stuffed with two types of cheese – provolone and ricotta – and pieces of smoke-cured pork cheek that’s almost all fat, this is one hefty snack that’s relieved only by the addition of grassy basil and cracked black pepper. I don’t even drink and I was wishing for a crisp white to wash this down.
Now, let me share a very important lesson with all of you out there: one large is enough for two people. In fact, I wouldn’t even recommend getting a small to have by yourself unless you’re extremely hungry. And just for reference, we usually tear through two full-sized Neapolitan pizzas with ease. The dough may feel light in the mouth, but the deep-frying really does catch up with you, and that’s not even taking into account the generous portions of cheese, and in our case, pork fat. Taste-wise, there really isn’t much to dislike about Pizza Fritta, even if it isn’t all that exciting. What I did find surprising was how similar our two pizzas tasted, despite the very different ingredients list. Once again, I blame the deep frying – it’s just too strong of a common denominator, overshadowing everything else to a certain degree. Still, Pizza Fritta is a great crowd pleaser, and definitely a good place to remember when you’re not sure where to take a group of picky eaters.
Rating: 13/20 – i repeat: the large is enough for two.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.