If you’re looking for a national treasure on the Northern Gold Coast, you don’t have to go far to find it. True Neapolitan style pizza has entered your ‘hood.
Napoli Zero81 Pizza Bar has opened in Southport, joining a clutch of eateries in the new precinct of Brooke Avenue, Chirn Park. Alongside the outstanding Meraki Kitchen and 5B2FBakehouse, Quan 55 & Bar has sprung up on the top corner, with Charm Thai and Napoli Zero81 Pizza Bar on the western side. With plenty of parking in the area, for locals, this area’s an easy choice.
Napoli Zero81’s owner, Justin Palumbo, is already well known on the coast through his mobile pizzeria Wildfire Pizzas.
His years of owning a restaurant in Sydney and running Wildfire Pizza for five years at Miami Marketta and private functions has culminated in a modern pizzeria, its roots firmly grounded in the tradition of Justin’s parents’ homeland.
While the finishing touches to the venue are still in progress, the visual focus is on the gorgeous wood-fired oven imported from Naples, its green mosaic marble gleaming, its open mouth flickering from the flames within.
On a shady corner, with seating flowing outside to surrounding verandas, this pizzeria’s a very pleasant spot for an evening meal.
Named after Naples and its dial code 081, the pizzeria’s main focus is ‘Pizza Napoletana’ with crusts as airy as cushions, their toppings light and flavoursome.
And that’s where the ‘treasure’ comes in…
As Justin was opening his pizzeria in December 2017, UNESCO declared ‘pizzaiuolo’ (the art of making Neapolitan pizza) a national treasure, joining hundreds of other ‘intangible heritage’ treasures including other culinary practices such as the Mediterranean diet, Turkish coffee, Croatian gingerbread making, French gastronomy, traditional Mexican cuisine, North Korean kimchi and washoku (a collective term for traditional Japanese food), all “traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants”. (UNESCO)
It was the culmination of a campaign for recognition of its 250-year-old heritage, including a petition to UNESCO signed by more than 2 million Italians.
Surprisingly, it’s not the pizza that is recognized, but the practice of making it. Firstly, the dough, made from simple top-quality flour, water, salt and yeast, must be kneaded by hand for at least 15 minutes, then allowed to rest and rise for 12 hours. Balls of dough are formed and again left to rest. After the toppings are added to the hand-stretched bases, the pizza is baked in a woodfired oven for less than two minutes.
Justin says that, like many pizzaiolo, he learned about pizza the hard way. Thrown in the deep end at his first restaurant and without a mentor, he sought one online, learning to make real AVPN pizza by spending hours watching tutorials on YouTube.
Justin’s passion is obvious, the pizzas delicious in their simplicity. Either Rossa (topped with San Marzano tomatoes) or Bianca (with Fior Di Latte) based, there are sixteen toppings to choose from, including the most famous of all, the signature Margherita ($19), named in honour of Queen Margherita and her love of a classic tomato, mozzarella and basil pizza.
While pizzas form the core of the menu, other street-style items are not to be overlooked: soft handmade pillows of potato gnocchi cooked in a Napoli Sauce, topped with Fior Di Latte, woodfired to finish; crisp Aranchini balls hiding Bolognese, peas and mozzarella; potato croquettes filled with pancetta, Grana Padano and Mozzarella, served with a tangy Gorgonzola cream sauce; Seafood linguini (Frutti Di Mare), or traditional Polpette meatballs cooked in a Napoli sauce, as well as salads and pastas.
There’s the option to order dishes per person, traditional style, or to dine from share platters – a great way to cater for functions or parties in the space.
Five delicious treats are offered for dessert: Nutella pizza, Profiteroles with gelati, Tiramisu, Cannoli and Nutella-filled Bomboloni.
While Central and Southern Gold Coast have gained an explosion of new talent and dining choices, it’s fabulous to see growth on the northern end of the coast, especially when the food quality is as much of a treasure as this.
58 Brooke Avenue, Southport, Queensland 4215
Open: Tues – Wed 5.30pm – 9.30pm; Thurs – Sun 5.30pm – late
Ph: 07 5636 8092
NOTE: At present, the restaurant is BYO, its liquor license pending. Good Food Gold Coast dined as guests of Napoli Zero81. Photo credit of bomboloni to Napoli Zero81. A version of this review has been posted on Blank GC here.