Stefano De Blasi and Edoardo Perlo are men on a mission: to bring real Italian flavours, ingredients and authentic Neapolitan pizza to Sydney and beyond.
Starting as a wholesale business in 2012, the business partners soon discovered that Sydney food-lovers were also craving hard-to-find ingredients from all over the world. So Salt Meats Cheese was born in the Grounds of Alexandria. Since then, Salt Meats Cheese have opened in Mosman and Surfers Paradise with more openings planned.
The Alexandria store’s old-meets-new interior design not only comprises shelf after shelf of dazzling coloured pasta and ingredients from around the world, but an impressive Meat House in the sprawling space. Want a little Kangaroo or Lamb Proscuitto, Truffle Salame or acorn-fed Iberico Jamon? There all here.
There are cooking classes from mozzarella and pasta-making to regional Italian cuisine. You can buy Mexican corn tortillas, truffle Pecorino, vintage Merlot sea salt or a Bialetti espresso maker. The store has the prettiest range of its own brand pastas This Magnificent Life has seen outside of Mario Batali’s famed Eataly providore in New York’s Flatiron.
Transported from the home of pizza, Naples, ‘The Pizza Box’ is a custom-built wood-fired colossus in a 10ft shipping container. The wood-burning oven adds a cheery ambiance to the old warehouse space. This is not a red-check table-cloth kind of place, more industrial and utilitarian yet comfortable. The pizzeria and store ring with the assuring sounds of real Italian accents.
The straightforward menu is divided into To Share, Pizza and Dessert. We start with a bowl of slightly crunchy arancini with interiors of silky risotto flavoured with pumpkin, spinach or Bolognese. There is also a fine looking Caprese, as well as meatballs and grazing plates of cured meats or cheese. Combined with a glass of Tuscan Sangiovese and a local Young Henry’s lager, the night is off to a good start.
Our pizzaiolo tonight is Alfonso, born and raised in Naples, then honing his pizza-making skills before moving to Sydney to man the oven at Salt Meats Cheese. His pies display all the simplicity and balance of great pizza.
With lots of flavours from the old country but some shake-ups like The Black Lobster – lobster tail on a squid ink pizza with fontina, fior di latte, garlic oil and thyme, choosing is difficult.
This pizza is pure alchemy: the magical combination of chewy, leavened dough and just-sweet enough good tomato base makes for amazing pizza with primo toppings from fior di latte and San Daniele prosciutto to fresh chorizo and chilli oil.
Just a couple of minutes in the oven and the char-kissed pizza is ready. Pizza here is earthy and fragrant – blistered from the fiery embers.
Our Caramelized pizza of fennel salame, caramelized Spanish and scamorza is puffy, golden, sweet from the onions and deliciously smoky. Served in the box it is thicker than most – puffed with warm pockets of steaming air.
Our decision to share dessert was in hindsight a mistake. Everyone can handle a slice of this light as air Tiramisu – with just enough chocolate and espresso richness to make for perhaps the perfect dessert. This is Tiramisu perfection.
How else to finish the night but with some shopping? All Pizza Box diners get a 20% discount on grocery items at Salt Meats Cheese.
Pizza devotees all declare their favourite is the only one that matters, thin and crispy or rustic and thicker; with traditional or edgy toppings. No matter your style, the Pizza Box is one to check out and you can even learn from the experts with pizza cooking classes. http://www.saltmeatscheese.com.au/