Pizza in this town is a bit like sushi: There’s a lot of crap around and you have to know where to look to find the good stuff. Odd, because Sydney has pretty sizeable populations of both Italians and Japanese, but there you have it. Sushi is all too often rolled up by machines in Marrickville industrial units or left for too long doing the rounds on sushi trains, the fog inside each dish’s plastic lid giving a fair indication of how many times that pair of salmon nigiri has passed “go”. Pizza’s not much better: some gems out there, but far too many places still cook their pies in those horrible conveyer belt ovens that look like nothing so much as overgrown versions of the toasters at not-quite-five-star resorts’ breakfast buffets.
The Prick reckons that one place that ought to be mentioned in the same breath as those aforementioned gems is Franks’ Pizza in Camperdown, just at the corner of Australia Street and Parramatta Road. On a tip from a couple of co-workers we brought the Three Little Pricks there the other night and had a blast. In a barn-like spot, they do a big, fast trade with the Camperdown locals: singles, couples, families, the lot. Plenty of expensively-distressed Deus ex Machina t-shirts on guys who’ll never mount anything more powerful than a Vespa (or their wives, who according to the latest local census data are as likely as not to be out-earning and out-performing their men on the career front).
True, Frank’s doesn’t use a wood-fired oven, but it’s a proper pizza oven nonetheless – just like in the New York pizza parlours of the Prick’s youth (it was all I could do to resist going to the counter to break a five for quarters with which to play the Zaxxon machine). The menu is pretty basic, but they’re not precious about mixing and matching as you like, and what they do they do well. A starting snack of garlic pizza had us at bon giorno: The crust was thin and crispy, the garlic redolent. My
Napoletana – olives and anchovies – was augmented with pepperoni and was pretty much the Platonic ideal of the pie. Everyone else was happy with their selections. And has been noted elsewhere, the prices look like they were set around the time Bob Hawke was putting away Blanche. The entire Prick family got out of there for a grand total of $63.
Frank’s will never be as “cool” as, say, Gigi’s in Newtown or Lucio in Darlinghurst. It’s unlicensed and BYO, so if you want to wash down your pies with a hand-picked Nebbiolo, it’s all you. It doesn’t hand-shave gossamer-thin prosciutto on a restored antique Benrimer. They proudly do daggy combos like “the Australian” or ham-and-pineapple. That’s fine. We have enough – too much – cool in this town. What we need more of is places like Frank’s that don’t change to meet the times, but make the times meet them on their own terms.