"Pizza?" Peter Evans asks, as he wends his way through the crowd at the launch of the Hugos Bar Pizza new private dining room.
"It's potato and lardo," he says, gesturing toward the thin crust pizza in his hand. "Basically it's potato and fat," he explains to those with blank expressions on their faces.
Potato and fat? Potato and fat? I would have called it potato and deliciousness. Potato and happiness. Potato and bliss. Luscious ribbons of pig backfat cured with rosemary and spices and heated until it melts between slivers of soft potato on a thin pizza crust.
David Evans and Peter Evans, co-owners of the Hugo Group
It's the second of three media nights at Hugos, showcasing the new private dining room behind the bar that was once a driveway. The long narrow space expands the dining room capacity from 80 to 120 seats.
Peter Evans takes the microphone first, laughing about the constant media mix-ups that confuse him with his brother David. He says that he is often asked whether he cooks in his restaurants, but admits that private functions and TV commitments prevent him from doing so. The cooking, he says, is more than adequately looked after by his Executive Chef for the Hugos Group, Massimo Mele.
Massimo Mele, Executive Chef for Hugos Group
Hugos Bar Pizza sits beneath Hugos Lounge in the suburb that never sleeps, Kings Cross. Its stylish surrounds - impressive backlit bar, low-set lounges and mood lighting - are backed up by snazzy cocktails and seriously good pizza. Hugos Bar Pizza has won the mantle of Best Pizza in Australia three times at the annual Australian Fine Food Show, and was awarded Best Pizza in the World at the New York Pizza Challenge in 2005.
Handmade grissini with cured meats
We were plied with an expansive tasting of dishes, many of which will feature on the new revised menu.
Giardiniera pickled seasoned vegetables
Cured Hiramasa kingfish with sweet and sour eggplant, pomegranate and saffron onions
The parade of antipasti seemed never ending, but my favourites were the cured Hiramasa kingfish - a mix of sweet and piquant with a slather of eggplant relish and brilliant ruby red pomegranate seeds, the hot and crisp-shelled arancini, and the tuna crostini, covered in delicate cubes of soft and yielding tuna dressed with lemon and chilli.
Arancini with pork ragu and scamorza and
fried calzone with buffalo ricotta, smoked ham and reggiano
Tuna crostini with chilli and lemon and
bruschetta with tomato and basil
Fregola with vongole
Slow roasted Rangers Valley grass fed rib eye
The huge hunk of Rangers Valley grass fed rib eye caught the attention of all diners as it was ceremoniously placed on each table.
Seared to a glorious juicy pink, Massimo explained that the steaks were cooked sous vide at 53C for three hours. The steaks were then finished in the pizza oven to create a caramelised crust. The meat was flavoursome, ribboned with fat, and melt-in-the-mouth tender.
Roasted potatoes with rosemary and garlic
and mixed garden salad
Rib eye bone
But the best part of any steak is the bone. Two of us on our table nabbed the bone and set about tearing the last shred of meat from every crevice, the fat from the edges, the marrow from the bone, the bits that were burnt. We clutched the bone in our hands, elbows on the table, big grins on our faces.
Tiramisu with amaretto
Dessert is just a bonus. We tunnel our spoons down into deep narrow glasses to find a boozy tiramisu made with not savoiardi sponge fingers, but crumbled amaretto - adding a sugary crunch.
Chocolate and hazelnut pizza with gelato
And to finish, Hugos famous chocolate and hazelnut pizza. This is easily the best version of this dessert pizza I've tasted, made with real chocolate shavings, splinters of toasted hazelnuts, slices of creamy banana and chocolate hazelnut paste on a light and crispy pizza. A scoop of vanilla gelato and a generous dusting of icing sugar sets off this dessert on the chopping board. We groan with pain, and then proceed to dig in.
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Hugos Bar Pizza Restaurant and Bar
33 Bayswater Road, Kings Cross
Tel: +61 (02) 9332 1227
Tuesday to Saturday 5pm - late
Sunday 3pm - late
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12/28/2010 02:47:00 a.m.