Pizza e Birra Balmain, The Agenda Daily // 2 March 2011

My piece in today’s Agenda Sydney news:

Ah, pizza – the Neapolitan gift to eating that needs no introduction.

You’d have thought. But as ubiquitous as the Italian staple can be – at best elevated from peasant food to a thing of artistry, at worst a cardboard-like munchies fix– it’s often hard to find a great slice in a great setting.

Surry Hills-billies have been lucky enough to have had a Pizza e Birra for years now, and a second St Kilda branch proved the unfussy Italian fare can go down a storm in Victoria. Now, the mavens at PeB have just officially opened a third branch in Balmain, adding a family-friendly, sophisticated and – dare we say it – damn fine pizza to the city’s pie portfolio.

That’s another notch for Balmain, which already has two of the city’s top pizzaioli in Rosso Pomodoro and Piccola Napoli. Maybe the suburb is overtaking Haberfield as Sydney’s pizza mecca?

Full of atmosphere, PeB dives off Darling Street like a maze of Naples alleyways, with rambling dining areas of paper-topped tables and candles. It’s best to head to the back, past the open pizza kitchen, to be amongst the italiano action.

The menu’s accent is, unsurprisingly, on woodfired pizzas and there are 24 to chose from, including a seafood-laden frutti di mare (no cheese, people – the way it should be) and the old fail-safe olive-studded capricciosa. Housemade pastas stand out in their freshness and punchy flavours – worth a special mention is the unctuous tagliatelle with duck ragu, as is the ravioli with eggplant and tomato concasse.

Cap it all off with a tiramisu that Anna, the Italian manager, tell us is “honestly, best after my mother’s” (wow, we’d like to try her mum’s version), and it’s easy to see why this new Darling Street eatery is the new, well, darling of the suburb’s eat street.

Hours: Mon-Fri 7.30am-3pm, 5pm-late. Sat-Sun 7.30am-late.
Phone: (02) 9810 5333
Address: 332 Darling St, Balmain
Note: No bookings

Or read online here.


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