As those who craved its pizza but couldn't make the drive to Surry Hills know, Pizza Mario's expansion was highly anticipated.
In September 2013, the pizzeria opened its second location, Da Mario, in Rosebery, and Da Mario continues the Pizza Mario tradition, serving authentic Neapolitan-style pizza according to the rules laid out by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN). Unlike Pizza Mario, Da Mario also has its own selection of classic pasta dishes and Italian specials, too.
Owners of the father-and-son-operated business David and Marcelo Cowdrill, alongside John Martin, have a rich history in the hospitality industry. In 1979, David opened his first restaurant ‘Ristorante Mario’ in East Sydney, before selling it in 2000. Then, in 2001, he opened Pizza Mario in Surry Hills. David received his AVPN certification in 1999; based in Naples, Italy, AVPN outlines numerous rules that must be followed in order for a pizzeria to call its pizza Neapolitan. For instance, the pizza dough must be shaped by hand, without aid of even a rolling pin, and the dough must be no thicker than 3 millimetres. “We are dedicated to Italian authenticity, and we make all our pasta and pizza dough fresh in house,” said David.
The menu at Da Mario features a large selection of pizzas. Of course, it has the classic Margherita, and, for an added kick, order the Margherita Extra, which comes with a deliciously hefty amount of buffalo mozzarella. The menu reads No Variations, to keep with AVPN standards, but the selection is large enough to appease most tastes. The Salsicce con Friarielli comes with spicy sausage mince, broccoli rabe, and mozzarella, and the Calzone Funghi comes filled with ricotta, buffalo mozzarella, mushrooms, black pepper, and tomatoes. The restaurant gets its produce fresh from Flemington markets three times a week.
In addition to pizza, Head Chef, Franco Bortignon, has added some variety to the menu including antipasti, pastas, salads, as well as an entire section dedicated to fried foods, such as deep-fried Hawkesbury River school prawns. Pastas come topped with pork and veal ragu; the beetroot risotto is a stunningly vibrant purple; and the specials list touts Australian seafood and meat dishes. Crudo di Pesce features raw Spanish mackerel marinated in citrus pomegranate and salsa verde, and the Tagliata di Manzo is a grilled Angus flank served with smoked anchovy butter- somewhat of a playful take on the classic vitello tonnato.
Running the front of house of the licensed venue, Marcelo heads up the team of vibrant staff who make for a seamless experience. The spacious dining room has high ceilings with exposed timber, and potted ferns hang above sleek black furniture. Firewood for the pizza oven is stacked against one wall, and there’s a large outdoor seating area. The pizzeria resides in a chic warehouse space inside The Cannery, a business complex that was once the Rosella factory. For those who like to pair pizza with a little shopping, the establishment is also home to the Koskela furniture store, and other onsite restaurants include Kitchen By Mike and Black Star Pastry.