It would be safe to say that everybody has been propositioned with the question: If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? For years, my answer was always a confident and unwavering: PIZZA. The omni-delicious flat snack has always held a special place in my heart, providing me with a triumphant fist-clenching “yesss” on its mention well through my formative years into a no-brainer hangover staple and all-round crowd pleaser today. The purveyors of Wollongong’s most superb slices of comfort are one of mate-ly moot, each opinion being swayed by a plethora of preference. Some like lots of toppings, others swear by minimal – many believe it is a matter of cheesier the pleasier, although some are all about the dough. After careful deliberation and market investigation, I have arrived at four establishments (restricted to the city limits of 2500) that I enjoy for their ex-‘za-llence.
1. Lupa: In my opinion, they are the reigning champions of pizza in Wollongong. The authenticity of their Italian fare is undisputed, serving up some seriously good slices on a day-to-day basis. The owners have a passion that is present as soon as you enter; the wood-fire oven glowing in the background fills the restaurant with a toasty temperature. The all-Italian menu will see big rounders arriving on your table in no time, with more traditional options focusing on a respect for quality ingredients. Another highlight of this gem on the corner of Keira and Smith is the option to purchase wine by the half litre.
2. Napoli Pizza: An often forgotten landmark of Italian cuisine in Wollongong, Napoli is perched neatly next to the cinemas on Burelli St and has been turning over a steady trade since before I was born. The Australiana influenced menu choices cover those most expected by pizza eaters: Hawaiian, meat lovers, supreme, etc. – but the Napoli Special is my slice vice when I enter the modest eating-house. A generous helping of toppings ranging from pepperoni to artichoke to anchovies nested on a sturdy base make for a winning chicken dinner (chicken not included). Handmade, good value and in an environment so humble you can wear trackies!
3. North Beach Pavilion: The success of the pavilion at North beach has been an issue of contention amongst Wollongong locals, the large newly reinvented building once provided large public showers for swimmers and at one point housed the Surf Life Savers. The distinctly functionalist façade deceives its modern innards, with an open kitchen greeting punters as they waddle along the narrow entrance way. A waterfront position, that doesn’t obviously say pizza, does provide – in good fashion too. The za’s here can be ordered by the metre, with the general rule that 15cm of the good stuff feeding one. The menu gives good homage to the traditional options you’d expect at an Italian wood-fired trattoria, with some more interesting alternatives in the segregation of white and red sauce bases. A delightful composition in a pesto based pork belly offering is a suggestion, but not a must.