Dining reviewer WENDY JOHNSON reveals her list of Canberra’s top five restaurants for 2017.
WHEN dining on pizza I never think about “AVPN”, but “AVPN” popped into my mind on a recent visit to Trecento, the new woodfired pizzeria and bar in Manuka.
Why? Because AVPN stands for Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana and in the pizza world many think a membership in this prestigious “Academy of Pizza” is as hot as a piece of spicy pepperoni. Founded in Italy in 1984, the AVPN is devoted to training passionate folk on the century-old art of making “true Neapolitan pizza”.
Trecento’s co-owner Jon Kosteski is a “master pizza maker” and so, too, is head pizza chef Salvatore Perna, here from Italy.
The AVPN has more than 450 members internationally. Only a handful of restaurants in Australia are certified and Jon hopes Trecento will be soon.
Making authentic Neapolitan pizza is a big deal. The leavened dough matures for some time so it’s easy to digest. The base is made with a one-inch rim and thin middle. It’s sacrilege to make this traditional pizza the wrong way. Only certain ingredients are allowed and the method is sacrosanct.
My favorite is from the “pizza bianca” menu. The Porcinella is delish with a lovely kick of chilli. It’s created with quality, smooth, buffalo mozzarella, parmesan, porcini mushrooms, zingy sausage (Neapolitan, of course) and fresh basil ($22).
It is also thumbs up for the Capricciosa, a “pizza rosso” created with fresh cow’s milk cheese (made in the style of Italian mozzarella), parmesan, ham, artichoke, mushrooms, basil and more ($22). Our only recommendation, which Jon says Trecento is on to, is that the tomato sauce be further reduced so it’s thicker and more flavoursome.
Before digging into pizza, we shared the calamari, which is the best we’ve had in ages ($14). It’s incredibly tender and the chilli dust adds a nice vibe. We had fun dunking it into house-made citrus aioli and perked up our palate with the rocket salad.
We also shared four-pepper crust beef carpaccio. It had buckets of flavour – tasty with tangy pearls from rainforest finger limes, crispy capers and anchovy emulsion ($18). The strength of the emulsion has been pared back since Trecento opened. I admire restaurants that pay attention to customer feedback.
Pasta is also on the menu ($22 to $29) and desserts look yum ($13 to $16).
Trecento’s wine list is intriguing and we enjoyed a bottle or two, including a Pinot Bianco.
Trecento is where the old Mecca Bah was. Sadly, the space has been empty since 2015. The restaurant is small but well designed, with indoor and outdoor dining. It’s been transformed with its modern edge softened with warm, rustic touches throughout.
Trecento, Unit 33, Manuka Terrace, open Tuesday to Sunday. Lunch midday to 2.30pm; dinner 6pm to late. Call 6260 7111.
Photos by MADDIE McGUIGAN