NSP's award-winning pizzas are a hit with Victoria Harbour's lunch crowd. Vanessa Murray sat down with its owner, Remo Nicolini, and learned of his lifelong passion for pizza.
Remo Nicolini has been serving simple and delicious Italian food – think pasta, pizza, salads, sandwiches (piadine, focacce and panini) and dolce, or sweets – at NSP, aka Non Solo Pasta, on the ground floor of the Myer building since 2011. Non Solo Pasta translates to ‘not only pasta’ and is a cheeky twist on the name of a popular European chain of eateries called Non Solo Pizza.
“We do pasta at NSP, but our main gig is pizza,” grins Nicolini, who likes a bit of a laugh (witness The Age Epicure’s pick for pizza of the year in 2013, NSP’s Bunga bunga, named for former Italian president Berlusconi’s infamous parties) and has pizza in his blood.Nicolini grew up working in his father Vito’s pizzerias on the Gold Coast and in the Abruzzo region of Italy, where the family lived on and off throughout Nicolini’s childhood.“In Italy, I went to school during the day and helped my father in the evening; that’s where I learned my trade. He taught me a lot of traditional recipes, but he wasn’t afraid to experiment,” recalls Nicolini.“At one point, we were selling one of the most popular pizzas in Italy! It was called The Australian and had bacon and eggs on top.”
“Seventy per cent of a good pizza is the dough,” says Nicolini, who settled in Melbourne in 1999, and has launched a string of successful restaurants, including +39 and Espressino in the CBD, and Itali.Co in Sorrento and St Kilda.
“Fresh yeast, water, salt and type 00 flour; that’s all you need. We let our dough rise for up to 72 hours – it makes our pizzas light and digestible."
Like his father, Nicolini isn’t afraid to try new things. Take the Bunga bunga, which is topped with Italian mozzarella, tomato, Berkshire sausage, porcini mushrooms and parmesan. Still, he’s a stickler for keeping it simple.
“The most important thing is not to mix too many ingredients together; most of my pizzas have no more than three key ingredients.”“It’s been great fun since the day we opened. The vibe and clientele at Victoria Harbour are just fantastic,” says Nicolini, who loves being front of house at NSP for the busy weekday trade.
He especially looks forward to Friday nights, when NSP stays open until 9pm, serving drinks and complementary aperitivi (light snacks) to the after-work and footy crowds. Salute to that!
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