The Mitolo family give regional Italy a fresh and cool makeover with their McLaren Vale hotspot Pizzateca, and the pizzas are pretty damn good as well.
Each morning Vito Mitolo and his extended family set up trestles and prepare for the day while sipping espresso. It’s an age-old tradition turned necessity for this busy new-ish enterprise in McLaren Vale. In one corner, basil and rosemary fresh from the garden are plucked meticulously and, in another, tomatoes are roughly chopped, minced and carted into the kitchen ready to coat the dough that is almost done. It’s sauce day every day at Pizzateca.
Breakfast is served a couple of hours before service so the family can put down their tools to relax and eat before the crowds arrive. And the crowds arrive in hoards. It’s always a full house on weekends, with a vibe that sits somewhere between a traditional Italian family lunch and a raucous wine party, depending on where you are seated. The buzz is almost as intoxicating as Pizzateca’s Limoncello.
Number One Son Tony Mitolo is an enigma of sorts. The former drummer for bands such as Empire of the Sun returned home to open Pizzateca with his father. Now he can be seen running between the kitchen, pizza station and the floor, where his skill at entertaining groups of diners shines before doubling back to make sure the playlist is on-track, and on-point.
We bask in the sunshine on the covered terrace, overlooking nearby vines and trays of pizza that fly past. The view through to the corner cooking station is a delight for the senses: the smell of fresh ingredients and the dedicated precision of the chefs who whip between flourcovered benches and flame.
Starting with a bottle of Zaptung Prosecco produced by Pizzateca’s mates and neighbours Alpha Box & Dice, we’re served olives marinated in olive oil infused with fennel, rosemary and chilli, and a Caprese con Burrata to get things moving. I’m pretty sure ‘Burrata’ translates from Italian to ‘the dreamiest cheese ever made’ but is more specifically a ball of Mozzarella with a creamy centre, served atop heirloom tomato and sprinkled with fresh basil, pepper and a generous dash of olive oil.
Pizza Schiacciata is essentially a pizza base coated in garlic that is miraculously transformed into Italy on plate, with toasted rosemary, olive oil and just the right amount of salt. Lightly charred edges and a crisp but chewy base offers a taste of the dough-handling skills possessed by the kitchen.
V.Mitolo and Son’s 2016 Grenache Rosé is the perfect match to small but delicious Abruzzese-style lamb skewers that offer a delicate balance of citrus and smoke. This dish is followed quickly by the arrival of pizza number one: Quattro formaggi, which is a cheeselover’s delight. A mix of Gorgonzola, Fontal, Parmigiano and Fior Di Latte, like all good four-cheese pizzas, this teeters on too much salt but then tapers off thanks to the crispy generous base and fresh thyme that offers a lingering herbaceous flavour that cuts through the cheese.
Radicchio insalata is a brightly-coloured necessity to offset this carby lunch, with iceberg lettuce and red onion, coated in house-made Shiraz vinegar. Orange segments are a zingy addition.
Pomodoro showcases more of that Fior Di Latte with barely baked baby roma tomatoes arranged neatly between clusters of garlic and basil, all of this contained by a billowing ring of crispy goodness. The ever faithful salami pizza wraps up the formalities, and we force ourselves to finish because it is just too good not to.
No Italian meal would be complete without home-made tiramisu. And Nonna Mitolo would never let you leave without dessert. This is a creamy and dreamy dish that pays homage to the home land, with a fluffy sponge that is lightly soaked and topped with just the right amount of cream with a dusting of cocoa. Just gorgeous.
As quickly as they arrived, the crowds depart. Espresso pots are restocked, and the family regroup, reset, and prepare for the night ahead. The only thing better than Pizzateca at lunch, is Pizzateca under the stars; ending with a swig of Limoncello.
319 Chalk Hill Road, McLaren Vale
Hours: Friday, 12.30pm–9.30pm