As Bowden undergoes massive redevelopments, more and more top-notch eateries are finding their home in Adelaide’s inner-north. Bringing the growing area its first authentic Neapolitan style pizza, Pizza Meccanica is the latest spot to join the ranks of Adelaide’s pizzerias.
Spending his days running Meccanica Studio, formerly known as Liquid Studio creative agency, Stelio Birbas launched Pizza Meccanica to share his passion for traditional pizza with Adelaide. We had a chat with the chef-meccanic himself to get the inside scoop on Pizza Meccanica’s good cheesy stuff.
You’ve talked about your love of pizza, even firing up a real pizza oven at home. Where did this passion for pizza spring from?
Back in 2010 I played around with pizzas a lot, feeding family and friends at home. My favourite is the thin-base style pizzas with minimal toppings (but yet just enough). After visiting 400 Gradi in Melbourne my love and passion for this style of pizza began. I started reading lots about the Neapolitan pizza style and this is what I started to love.
What inspired you to turn this appreciation of pizza into a fully fledged restaurant?
I grew up in hospitality as a kid in family businesses, as well as having my own takeaway. That sparked the idea of opening an end of week-weekend pizza joint to break up the design work. I wanted something different, not a restaurant, so I looked for old sheds, warehouses and the like. I wanted something quirky, funky – something that looked very average from the outside but had a ‘wow’ factor inside.
Tell us about the Pizza Meccanica approach to pizza. What is it that makes a ‘good’ pizza good?
Our approach is simple, literally! Traditional and authentic Neapolitan style pizzas with 24-36 hours of dough proving time. Thin base, light and fluffy cornizione (crust), simple and minimal quality toppings and with a BANG mouthful of flavour!
Where did the Meccanica name come from?
My passion for restoring old classic muscle cars has been with me since the age of 8 and seeing my parents with old school classics I fall in love with them from the get go. So the duo are my two passions together, pizza and cars, and the name Pizza Meccanica was born. The concept is to come and enjoy the Neapolitan Pizza inside my mechanic workshop – there is also a bigger picture that we are working on!
You seem to have your fingers in a whole lot of pies with hair, cars, design, architecture, fashion and now pizza – how do you manage to do it all?
As a graphic designer, I love graphic design, architecture, fashion and cars. The key is housing it all under one roof. We have created the Meccanica Group – Pizza Meccanica, Meccanica Studio and Meccanica Hair! Being in one place together is a lot easier to manage. Again, there is a lot of scope for the Meccanica brand in the future – we are working on a Meccanica apparel range as well – this is just the beginning! It all comes down to passion, vision and my supportive girls.
What drove the decision to open only on Friday and Saturday nights?
I wanted something different! An atmosphere and experience like no other each time that we open our doors. This is why we only open two days per week for now. I have a young family that I want to be there for and I never want to lose the passion for what I like doing, so only doing it two days each week allows me to truly enjoy it each time that I set foot behind the Stefano Ferrara oven! Having said that a Sunday trade is not far away!
What sets Pizza Meccanica apart from other pizzerias in Adelaide?
The experience, the culture, and the uniqueness of the fit out. It’s not a traditional restaurant, nor a café, it’s a workshop with a pizza oven and a relaxed atmosphere. It’s a place where you can genuinely come, sit back, relax and unwind at the end of the week with a strong focus on traditional and authentic Neapolitan pizza.
Bowden is very much an up-and-coming area of Adelaide, especially in the hospitality scene – how have you found settling in amongst the Bowden locals?
Bowden is an awesome place to be a part of at the moment, during its growth stage. The community has been very supportive, and they love the fact that they now have good Italian pizza within walking distance to sit, enjoy a great feed and soak up the vibe and atmosphere. My grandfather migrated from Greece to Gibson Street, just around the corner from we are now, back in the 50’s – and my wife grew up in the area so it seems like Bowden was in our DNA many, many years ago!
Many pizza restaurants try to ‘do it all’ however Pizza Meccanica offer a relatively modest offering of seven pizzas – tell us a little about developing the Meccanica menu.
The menu is, again, traditional and authentic Neapolitan pizzas – no need to recreate the wheel. Just like in design, simple is always best. The only exception is the Mushroom Pizza, which is a combination that I have come up with. All of the other six pizzas are recipes that have been around for many years. The Margherita being the most famous of them all, sets the foundation for all of the pizzas and is the benchmark of Neapolitan pizza. If you can nail a great Margherita, you can just about bet your bottom dollar that the rest will be just as awesome. We also have a small eats, small dessert and salad range. We want to keep things simple, fresh and easy and put a lot of effort into ensuring that everyone has an experience to remember.
Find the full Pizza Meccanica menu at pizzameccanica.com.
WHERE? 2 Hawker Street, Bowden
WHEN? Friday & Saturday: 17.30 – 21.30