One thing Naples is known for is its pizza. Not just any pizza, the popular Neapolitan-style pizza that’s typically cooked in a wood-fired oven and renowned for its soft, blistered crust.
Naples native Luigi Esposito is undoubtedly familiar with it – after all, it’s the signature style pizza he’s been serving since opening his first Via Napoli restaurant in 2011 in Australia’s most populous city of Sydney.
But Esposito, whose Nonna Rosa taught him how to make pizza when he was 11 years old, thinks it’s time Sydney is introduced to another Naples staple: pizza fritta – the mainstay of the menu at his new eatery Pizza Fritta 180 in the inner city suburb of Surry Hills.
Esposito tells SBS Food, “In Naples we have two kinds of pizzas; there’s the wood-fired and then there’s the pizza fritta. They’re the two items you must eat when you go to Naples.”
As its name suggests, a pizza fritta is a deep-fried pizza. While its dough is made in the same way as a Neapolitan pizza using 00 flour, a pizza fritta takes the shape of a calzone, with the fillings sandwiched inside before it’s flash fried for 60 seconds in oil heated to 180 degrees Celsius.
Pizza fritta dates back to World War II when the price of some toppings and wood to cook pizzas was too expensive.
The pizzaiolo adds Sophia Loren’s character ‘Sofia’ in the 1954 film The Gold of Naples made pizza fritta popular as she ate one wrapped in paper while standing on a Naples street.
“Bite, bite, bite so you can taste the quality of the ingredients and dough we use.”
To replicate the romantic scene, Esposito serves all of his pizza frittas wrapped in paper so you can “bite, bite, bite and feel the paper while you’re eating the pizza, and then bite, bite, bite so you can taste the quality of the ingredients and dough we use.”
Esposito has kept his fillings traditional. There’s one affectionately named after his Nonna Rosa, which is filled with salami, provola, tomato and ricotta.
Another version is Pizza Elena, which features pork cheek with provola and creamy ricotta. There’s also a vegan pizza fritta that uses coconut cheese and imported Italian plant-based salami.
The menu at Pizza Fritta 180 also features the montanara, a small, round flash-fried pizza loved for its crunchy and airy texture. It comes topped with marinara sauce, burrata and basil.
As for the dolce menu, it’s based on Italian classics such as the Nutella calzone and graffa, Naples’ version of a hot cinnamon doughnut.
Pizza Fritta 180
428 Crown Street, Surry Hills
Daily 12pm till late