Monday, 27 October 2014

Tartufo - this time its all about the Pizza

A couple of months ago, I started an adventure to try to find the best pizza in Brisbane (see posts here), but after eating a little too much pizza in such a short time, I paused for a moment.  After going without pizza for almost two months, I started to get that feeling in the pit of my stomach that can only be resolved with a dose of pizza.  Not just any pizza, margherita!

So far in my travels, I've had some great pizza with my favourites being Sorellina (see post here) and Beccofino, which to date had been my favourite by quite some distance.  It was time to get some hatted pizza and by that, I mean get some pizza from one of Brisbane's best restaurants, Tartufo.  I've been to the Tony Percuoco restaurant a heap of times and rate it as one of the best Italian restaurants around but it's only been relatively recently that I became aware that Tony had moved into another great love of his life - pizza!

Being a native of Naples, the home of the margherita pizza, following in the footsteps of the most famous pizzerias in the world, Brandi, Da Michele and Trianono Tradition, it was only natural that a pizza oven would grace the floor at Tartufo.  With a view of using only the freshest ingredients of the highest quality, Tony aims to be accredited through the 'Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana' (AVPN), an association dedicated to the protection and veracity of the 'true Neapolitan pizza'.

We'd been trying to get in to see Gone Girl for a couple of weeks, so we'd had a plan to get in to Tartufo right on pizza opening time of 5:30, so we'd have enough time to eat and then get over to the CBD for the movie.  Surprisingly, we were able to score a park on the street, right out the front of the Emporium, the Valley complex where Tartufo is located.  

Tartufo is a restaurant where we've been a heap of times and I know Tony Percuoco reasonably well, so we were never going to be able to dine anonymously.  As we arrived, we were greeted warmly and welcomed back by the restaurant manager and told we could sit anywhere we wanted.  After having a bit of a chat about the Good Food and Wine Show and my Barilla cooking class (see post here), we got down to the serious business of ordering pizzas.  The Tartufo pizza menu consists of about a dozen different pizza options, including the traditional margherita as well as a raft of options that you'd expect to see on any decent pizza menu.

What I loved about the set up of the Tartufo pizza restaurant was the traditional dome shaped pizza oven that took pride of place near the entrance.  I also loved watching the chefs preparing the pizza dough and rolling and tossing it about with a skill that I could only ever dream of.  With a pizza oven temperature that meant our pizzas only needed to cook for sixty seconds, it wasn't long before our pizzas arrived.

There was never any doubt that I would be going traditional and I was stoked to see the perfectly formed margherita pizza presented with a flourish.  It looked perfect, the tri colours of the Italian flag were aparrent with the deep red of the tomato base, the creamy yellow of the mozzarella and the green of the basil leaves.  With super thin bases, the idea with the Tartufo pizzas is not to muck about and to get straight into the eating.  My first bit of my pizza transformed me immediately to my happy place, the sweetness of the tomato sauce, along with the creamy cheese and every so sweet base combined to perfection.  There is an important balance with the perfect margherita pizza and Tartufo had struck that balance impeccably - I just hoovered up the pizza and before long, it was gone.

SC had decided on the Diavola, which came with tomato, mozzarella, hot salame, chilli, extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil.  Behind the margherita, the pepperoni pizza is arguably the next most popular pizza and this Tartufo bad boy was like a pepperoni pizza on steroids!  It was hot, very, very hot.  I was intrigued to see a little sheen of sweat appear on SC's brow and with regular comments that the pizza was hot, damn hot, SC dug into the pizza with gusto.  It had the same wonderful balance as the margherita, the same perfect base and lovely sweet sauce - the only real difference was a fire and heat that felt like it had come from the depths of hell but in fact came from the chilli and salame.  SC loved it but I made the mistake of taking a bite - whoa, it was hot - I was glad I'd finished my pizza already, otherwise I might not have tasted anything else!!

Due to the speed in which out pizzas had arrived, it left a little time for dessert.  The last time we'd been to Tartufo, SC had ordered the panna cotta and I'd experienced a jolt of dessert envy, so it was my time to taste the sun!  Tartufo has a stunning honey and vanilla infused panna cotta that is served with fresh strawberries and house made gelato, which I had no hesitation in ordering. When presented, the dessert not only looked spectacular but was just incredible to eat.  There was a wonderful flavour of honey in the perfectly set and creamy panna cotta which worked beautifully with the fresh strawberries raspberry gelato.  Initially SC had declared that she had no room for dessert, but somehow found a way to 'share' the dessert with me.  I felt like I'd been scammed a little!

There is a reason why Tartufo is recognised as one of Brisbane's top restaurants, the food is beautiful and the setting perfect.  Regularly listed in just about everyone's top ten restaurants, Tartufo has a Brisbane Times Good Food Guide chefs hat and it is well deserved.  But..... I now have a bit of a conundrum, the pizza is so good at Tartufo, I'm not sure I'll be able to go to the formal dining room side on my next visit!

I was really impressed with my pizza at Tartufo and I get a sense of the passion for pizza that Tony Percuoco brings to his restaurant.  There is not much more to say about it than it stretches the boundaries of perfection and has rocketed right up to the equal top on my list of Brisbane pizza.  Now, I will go on to say that in my travels around the world, including the pizza meccas of NYC and Italy, the best pizzas in Brisbane actually rival the best pizzas I've had overseas, so really, the pizza doesn't get much better.

We left Tartufo in a pretty happy place and found our way to see Ben Affleck play a douche in the movie Gone Girl.  It was actually a pretty good film and the adaptation from the book is not too bad.  I'd recommend getting along to check it out - but make it part of a pizza dinner first and get along to Tartufo for their scrumptious margherita pizza!

** Thanks to Tony Percuoco who picked up the tab for our visit on this occasion

Hot, damn hot - too hot for the likes of me!!
The margherita is more my style and this was perfect - just the right amount of cheese 
Pizza perfection
The honey infused panna cotta was to die for!
The dome of perfection - or pizza oven as others might call it

Ristorante Tartufo on UrbanspoonTartufo Ristorante + Bar

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