Pizza. Picture: 123RF/Brent Hofacker
Pizza. Picture: 123RF/Brent Hofacker

The FM sussed out the extremes of Joburg pizza joints; one blisteringly new, the other a real classic.

The old

Lucio’s Pizzeria, in Northcliff, has been around for 31 years. It’s one of those mom and pop trattorias that you see in movies — only it’s wedged between a paint place and a glass shop on one of the less glam blocks of the busy Beyers Naudé arterial. But really, who cares about that?

Claudio Merlo started the place in 1987, and when he passed away in 2009 his wife Bimba and son Armando took over. Staff have been there for years, and customers are lifers.

I was four when the zanily decorated joint sprang into action. I grew up a few blocks away, but am ashamed to admit I was not a regular. Last week, in a fit of hypoglycaemia, I ordered one of Lucio’s pizzas on UberEats. I’ll put it this way: I appear to have wasted 20 years of my life.

There is nothing trendy about any of it. What arrived was a classic — a thick, but not too thick, deep-pan number. You can get a thin base but, frankly, I was in need of something deeply comforting, and this more than fitted that bill.

What I especially liked was that the pizza came heaving with topping. Actual real bacon (not those little token bits), fresh avo, dairy farms’ worth of cheese that had gone perfectly crispy on the edges. Sure, it’s not the in-vogue Neapolitan pizza of the moment, but that’s what makes it even more appealing.

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Sarah Buitendach

The new

A blazing hot pizza comes out of the fiery oven and sticks to the paddle ever so slightly. A small tear forms in the base as it slides onto the plate and immediately the pizza is abandoned.

"It has to be perfect," says Tyler Clayton, sous chef and lead pizza wrangler at Sandton’s hippest new restaurant, Saint. This is, of course, the standard we’ve come to expect from a David Higgs establishment, but another master of the craft was involved too.

Before this "crazy Italian" restaurant opened its doors last week, Higgs sent head chef Matthew van Niekerk and Clayton to Italy. They were sent to learn from Antonio Sorbillo, the world-renowned maestro whose pizzas have prompted close to 200,000 followers on social media. This master of traditional Neapolitan pizza would never let even marginally misshapen dough make it into the oven, let alone onto the plate.

"He was very meticulous," Van Niekerk says, "but you can taste the results."

The pizzas popping out of the twin golden ovens in Sandton are no exception. They are at once gloriously light and crispy. Thick, pillowy crusts give support to the soft base as it is weighed down in equal amounts of tomato base and pockets of imported mozzarella cheese.

Get to this new, rather grand establishment, situated at the Marc in Rivonia Road, and grab a slice — and a glass of bubbles. As soon as you can get a booking, that is.

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Sylvia McKeown