25 March 2024

Department of Pizza: A department Canberra can really sink its teeth into!

| Michelle Taylor
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pizza

The potato and prosciutto pizza is my pick! Photo: Kazuri Photography.

Some of Canberra’s best-loved restaurants began as food trucks, with the chefs and owners whetting their skills and building up a faithful clientele before making the giant leap to a brick-and-mortar location.

Department of Pizza, Campbell’s fabulous Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizza joint, began life as a pizza trailer six years ago when owners Emily, Ricky and Matt started at fetes and festivals.

One of their clients, with restaurant experience, had planned to launch a wood-fired pizza restaurant but followed a different opportunity. He strongly encouraged the team to open a pizzeria.

two men and woman sitting at table outside

Department of Pizza owners Emily, Ricky and Matt. Photo: Department of Pizza.

“We all had full-time jobs,” Emily explains, but the idea had been planted. The team put their heads, business acumen, and ingenuity together and Department of Pizza was born.

Emily tells us that a family member runs a bakery in the Blue Mountains. They have had a sourdough starter for 30 years, and they gifted some of it for their pizza dough. Yes, this pizza has sourdough as a base!

“We don’t use much yeast, if any at all,” Emily says.

“The sourdough base gives our pizza a better flavour. The challenge is that no two days are the same, as far as temperature goes, so we really have to manage that, and we have to feed our starter faithfully every day.”

The chefs keep the pizzas as traditional as possible, using minimal, premium ingredients. As I walk in, they are chopping fresh fior de latte, authentic Italian mozzarella.

“Our pizza mentor, Giovanni, was out here from Italy and he pretty much taught us everything,” Emily says as we look at the pizza menu.

“We are so lucky to have come across him.”

Department of Pizza’s pizzas are Neopolitan style, which means a thin base, crunchy on the outside, soft and spongy within. Emily assures me that the gluten-free pizzas are gorgeous. They offer a beautiful wine list, with a range of Australian wines sitting alongside Italian wines sourced from Piedmont and Tuscany. The cocktail menu includes a couple of spritzes, a negroni, and an Americano, among some classics.

wine list on a wall

Department of Pizza’s drink list. Photo: Department of Pizza.

We ordered the most popular pizza, the potato and prosciutto, as well as a margherita. Sushant, the head chef, creates pizza magic. And if the pizzas here are not enough to transport you to Italy, front-of-house Paolo’s beautiful accent and cheeky asides will definitely take you there.

The potato and prosciutto have been baked into the pizza’s garlic oil base, and when it arrives piping hot from the wood-fired oven, the heady aroma of garlic drifts up with the steam. I love how no two bites on Neopolitan pizza are the same. The ingredients are not piled on, Aussie style. It has a blistered, well-seasoned crust, and translucent discs of grilled potato and curls of crisp-edged prosciutto are scattered across its breadth, while mouthfuls of mozzarella, garlic oil and the delicate pepper-tang of rosemary hit as you bite. And then the sourdough base: the crust is superb on its own. It’s spongy, with a subtle, moreish tang.

pizza

The Margherita is a study of keeping flavours simple and pristine. Photo: Kazuri Photography.

The Margherita is a study of keeping flavours simple and pristine. It’s the classic trio of tomato, mozzarella and basil. As we eat, Emily reveals the very simple way they create the tomato base, a base many clients ask them to bottle and sell. I will use this method the next time I make pizza at home! This pizza is scrumptious. Again, the crust is flawless.

In a city where there is a department for everything you could imagine, the Department of Pizza is where I want to be!

restaurant interior

Pull up a table and find your new favourite pizza! Photo: Department of Pizza.

Department of Pizza is located at 12 Blamey Place at Campbell shops. Get lunch from Tuesday to Saturday from 12 pm to 3 pm, or grab a pizza for dinner from Tuesday to Saturday from 4:30 pm to 9 pm, and Sunday from 4:30 pm to 9 pm.

Visit their website to order your own delicious pizza! And follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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