Piccolino Pizza & Gnocchi Bar in Fitzroy North
Piccolino is a wood fire pizzeria and pasta specialist in Fitzroy North, a restaurant that has hit the ground running since it renovated and re-opened recently. It's a fresh new look and the attraction of a new traditional woodfired pizza oven that is drawing locals and those from afar.
I felt a warmth as soon as I walked into Piccolino greeted by "AJ" Anthony LoPiccolo and Andrea Fioriti, also taking in the music, the mural on the wall and the open kitchen.
AJ is an impeccable host and full of character, proud of his establishment and someone who brings warmth and hospitality. He says he like to express his vibrancy and engage customers without pretension. While we were there we saw him engaging locals like old friends, knowing some of their names.
AJ sits us at the counter to begin with and pours us a Spritz apertivo from Tap Wines, and starts sharing the vision and philosophy of Piccolino.
The woodfired pizza is getting star status at Piccolino.
Approachable dishes with seasonal, fresh, quality ingredients. AJ is proud of the pastas but the wood oven pizza is getting star status. We noted the Aperitivo special between 5.30-7pm daily which includes an individual serve of the chef's selection tasting plate with a beer, tap wine or spritz option.
We began our feasting with Italian style tapas, including suppli della settimana which was like a croquette or arancini with a rice filling, perfect with tomato relish. Piccolino notes this dish is renown as Rome's most talked about street food. And a highlight of our meal.
We also enjoyed the torta al testo flat bread from the homeland where the head chef resides, Perugia, filled with prosciutto (nice touch with Italian flag on top) and cheese, as well as a selection of warm marinated olives pan seared in EVO oil (a Sicilian thing to do). The torta al testo was tasty and I can't recall ever having enjoyed this dish before.
This antipasto selection was top notch and perfect to share.
Italian stallion is a showstopper.
The pizza menu includes some exceptional signature pizzas such as The Italian Stallion (with meat sourced from a top butcher), Funghi pizza, Potato Head, and Spag Bowl to name a few. Yes you can find the Margherita and the Capricciosa here for example, but we recommend venturing into the signatures zone.
Funghi pizza is a must order for mushroom lovers, drizzled with truffle oil.
The new wood oven made by specialist from Calabria is sensational and we loved the signature Italian Stallion pizza with napoli, mozzarella, pork & fennel sausage, salami, olives, fior di latte, fresh chilli, basil as well as the Funghi pizza with mushroom, mozzarella, rocket, truffle, pecorino, basil (veg). We concluded these were top notch pizzas featuring quality ingredients.
Made with love.
Like all pizzas we look for quality of the base and @piccolino3068 pizzas had perfect base with nice “chew”. The pizza dough undergoes a 72 hour levitation process before being cooked in the woodfired pizza oven. This is how Piccolino gets the perfect ratio of dough to "crisp".
The pasta selection evolves and changes depending on what ingredients are in season and available - we like this flair in a local restaurant that pasta and gnocchi are made on site. The tagliatelle bolognese is a tasty hit, hand made with a compelling bolognese sauce.
Our favourite was the plump soft pillows house made gnocchi with a Napoli sauce.
Andrea Fioriti has joined the Piccolino team as head chef and partner, offering diners traditional Italian fare inspired by his home city Perugia in the region of Umbria. With trattoria-style eating and a ‘what’s fresh today’ philosophy, diners are treated to a weekly seasonal menu of house made pasta, hand-stretched woodfired pizzas and Fiorit’s specialty: traditional aperitivo just like you would see in Italy – torta al testo anyone?
While the menu and direction has changed for the restaurant since opening in 2018, Piccolino continues to push the boundaries on how Melbournians view Italian fare. The space is quirky, fun and always a little cheeky. Highly recommended.
Drinks include TAP wines, local and Italian beer, and Aperol Spritz on tap.
Amaro Montenegro to finish was a nice touch.