Etica: Adelaide’s Ethical Pizzeria e Mozzarella Bar
The philosophy of thinking about where I put my food dollar extends from my home into the restaurants at which I like to eat. So many wonderful South Australian restaurants are now proudly boasting the free range, organic and sustainable origins of their produce. There are still many that boast grain-fed of course, and sadly, those who do not offer any information at all, let alone train their staff in this field.
After long and considered planning, a new Pizza Bar had finally opened in the Adelaide CBD and I was so thrilled that I made a time for dinner in between my crazy Adelaide Fringe show viewing schedule as soon as I could.
Etica: Ethical Pizzeria e Mozzarella Bar is the brain child of Melissa Merola and Federico Pisanelli, who are as obsessed about pizza as they are about food ethics. Their entire food philosophy flouts the factory farming industry; rejecting the abuse and exploitation of animals and passionately supporting seasonality, freshness and sustainability.
Striving for the feel of an authentic Napoletana pizzeria, the pair have had their amazing woodfire pizza oven custom made in the region, and employ authentic methods including a 30 hour preparation and aging period for the dough. As I was about to discover, this results in the most wonderfully tender, yet crisp and smoky flavoured pizza base imaginable.
But I jump ahead. This place is also a Mozzarella Bar. Having almost no idea what this meant, my husband and I asked Melissa for recommendations. We ordered the Mozzarelle Squacquerone, a soft cheese likened to a rindless brie or fresh, smooth feta without any of the saltiness and of course, the Mozzarella di Bufalo. Both are served in earthenware dishes on a bed of radicchio, fresh herbs and local olives and drizzled with the most wonderful olive oil from Adelaide’s own Tony Scarfo.
The story of the cheese itself is remarkable. Wishing for all of their animal derived produce to be sourced from ethical farmers, the couple have researched and visited farms and businesses to ensure the food they offer comes from farms with whose practices they agree. The Buffalo milk dairy they were happy with is in Cairns. From here the milk is sent to Giorgio Liguanti in Melbourne. Etica receive the fresh mozarella the next day.
This extensive research applies to all food choices, and, in the case of desserts and drinks, all care has been taken to ensure they are vegan as the pair do not wish for unknown animal derived ingredients to corrupt their menu. Modestly, they aim not to innovate with their menu, but to serve the food they have loved and enjoyed while growing up. In keeping with this, they offer simple and few menu choices. Still, half a dozen antipasti dishes, 3 or 4 pasta varieties and 3 organic salad choices isn’t bad on top of the 7 pizzas and 5 Mozarelle on offer.
You aren’t getting ham and pineapple here, and you certainly aren’t getting a weird satay chicken pizza. The closest to meat lovers you are going to get is the Zbigniew, which is what we ordered. The finely textured organic salami, teamed with porcini mushrooms, local olives and Fior di Latte was a familiar combination taken to the next level by the quality of the ingredients. Delicious. Yet I still found myself staring enviously at fellow diners’ Margherita pizza topping; the simplicity and freshness of organic San Marzano tomatoes with Fior di Latte looked incredible. A simple salad of homegrown fig, organic cos lettuce and fresh herbs was also a revelation; the quality of the olive oil and balsamic vinegar taking centre stage.
The whole restaurant is intimate enough for a quick couples dinner, but still capable of seating larger parties. It is warm and inviting and I cannot wait to see what the season changes brings to the menu.
Located at 125 Gilles Street, Adelaide, Etica is open for dinner Wednesday to Sunday from 6pm, and for lunch on Fridays at this stage.