Puffy, chewy, a gentle crunch and a soft gooey centre – it’s the perfect Neapolitan pizza crust and it’s impossible to perfect. Impossible unless your name is Lucio De Falco – owner of Sydney institution Lucio Pizzeria in Darlinghurst.
As the Harbour Bridge has always spanned the city’s sparkling waters, and the sails of the Opera House have forever craned their necks for the view, so it seems that Lucio’s has been in Sydney since the beginning.
I mean, imagining a Sydney without any of these three landmarks is imagining a different Sydney altogether.
Since arriving in Sydney when he was just 21, Lucio has been making the finest pizza in the country.
In fact, in 2018 Lucio won best pizza in Australia at the Campionato Mondiale Della Pizza in Parma. He was also awarded fifth best pizza in the world.
And these accolades make absolute sense. All you have to do is try one of his masterpieces.
These days, there are two Lucio Pizzerias in Sydney – one in Darlinghurst and, since 2015, one in Zetland. But the original in Darlinghurst is where you really sense that Napolitano soul.
Lucky numbers, perfect pizzas and free dinners – Lucio Pizzeria turns 13
Unlike the rest of the world, Italy believes that 13 is a lucky number. The call of ho fatto tredici! – I have thirteen – is a favourite expression when someone hits the jackpot.
We’ve got the whole story about how 13 isn’t bad luck in Italy (but why 17 is) right here – it’s an interesting tale.
But this celebration isn’t just about a lucky number.
Not only has Lucio survived the hospitality-crushing effects of 2020, his baby has just become a teenager as well. Of course he should celebrate.
And in true Italian style, Lucio wants to celebrate with everyone!
So if you’re also celebrating 13 – whether it’s a birthday, wedding anniversary or if you celebrate the 13th of the month for whatever reason, Lucio is inviting you to come and eat for free! Check out the deal here.
Christina and I have just started our thirteenth year of being married, so we feel a bit of connection with Lucio’s. Even more so when I think we’re all on the same wavelength when it comes to food.
The dinner we enjoyed in Darlinghurst recently was excellent. And we got to chat to Lucio about Naples, food and his plans for the future as well.
Dining at Lucio’s Darlinghurst
The first thing that strikes us as we sit down at our al fresco table in the courtyard on Palmer Street is how very much like Naples it feels.
There are neither bells nor whistles here, and in a good way.
It’s a true reflection not only in the authenticity of the food, but also Lucio’s down-to-earth personality and his confidence in his food.
Sitting here with everything going on around us, we’re transported to the alleyway dining and true Italian-ness of Naples. It’s a wonderful city – a living museum. It’s good to feel we’re back.
The only difference here is that there are printed menus, which makes ordering much easier!
For entree, we order the burrata con pan gratatto e spinaci. Sitting atop a pile of wilted spinach and covered in the crunchy crumbs of gratatto, this huge, glorious balloon of milky cheese bursts at the merest touch.
Decadent and delightful, yet simple and perfectly balanced. That’s Italian cooking for you.
We also try the casarecce con ragú d’angello. All made in-house, this is a real southern Italian dish. Spirals of firm, chewy pasta embracing the rich, unctuous slow-cooked lamb shoulder and its dark tomato sauce.
The casarecce here is different to the stuff we’ve had before. It’s made of tighter twists than fusilli but looser than those we’ve found further east in Puglia. It’s excellent nonetheless.
Finally we have the pizza from the monthly specials board. I’ve become obsessed with n’duja, so this pizza was an easy choice for me. If you haven’t had it before, n’duja is a super rich meat that’s soft and crumbly and turns to almost a sauce when you heat it.
It’s a traditional spicy sausage from southern Italy, but it’s only now becoming known elsewhere in the world.
This pizza – along with n’duja – has mozzarella and fresh ricotta. And it’s nothing short of perfect.
In true Neapolitan style, the edges of the pizza are quite puffy and ‘deep pan’ but it’s not dense. The centre is soft and gooey, but it’s not undercooked, which is something people tend to think the first time they have southern-style pizza.
Thin and crispy is not Naples’ style at all and I doubt it ever will be.
We finish off with a caffè corretto. This is a simple espresso ‘corrected’ with a shot of grappa – definitely my kind of dessert.
We leave feeling very satisfied, but still missing Italy hard.
It was wonderful to chat to Lucio, to hear his story and have a laugh.
Next up for Lucio
In mid-2021 Lucio’s pizzeria pair will become a trio, with a new venue opening in Kensington called Bar Lucio.
This will be a traditional Italian cafe offering proper Italian coffee and some classic Aussie breakfast and lunch snacks. The perfect storm.