Morphett Street has a new dining destination.
First look: Inside Antica Pizzeria e Cucina
Antica Pizzeria’s first city location transports visitors to modern Italy not only through its flavours, but with an interior that cleverly recalls the streets of Naples.
Visit Antica Pizzeria’s city location at 226 Morphett Street, Adelaide. The venue is open Tuesday-Saturday from 11.30am until late.
Owner Anthony Crea’s first location has been a hit on King William Road in Hyde Park since it launched two years ago, but he knew that the city spot required a new approach.
Opening last Friday, the Morphett Street venue is an expansion for Antica in every way. As well as being physically bigger than its suburban counterpart, it offers an extended menu that includes wood grill dishes and fresh pasta alongside the wood oven pizza for which the first shopfront is famous.
These changes, along with a full cocktail bar, are all signs of Anthony’s ambition to create a new dining destination in this oft-overlooked part of town.
“I’m trying to encourage people not to just come in and eat but to come in and hang out, spend some time here,” says Anthony.
Aware that the feel of the space could be the difference between success and failure, Anthony has worked closely with Ryan Genesin of interior architecture studio Genesin Studio to transform the building.
Together, the pair have taken an old empty tenancy, which Ryan says was a furniture showroom, and converted it into a warm, textured space that obliquely recalls the streets on which Anthony’s ancestors once walked.
“We have basically 60,000 hand cut bricks in here,” says Ryan. “It’s about having modern Italian in terms of the modernist appeal of the materials and all of that nostalgia, but played with in a contemporary way.
“Their background is from Napoli in terms of their family and some of the streets there are sort of gated with lots of little courtyards and piazzas. So we’ve created the best modern version of that.”
To break up the large space, Ryan has delineated it into several distinct but connected areas. The front section provided a particular challenge as integration with the bare Morphett Street landscape was difficult, but Ryan’s solution allows the shopfront to open out or close up depending on the conditions outside.
“You come through the private entrance with the vaulted ceiling that has that old sense of Italy,” he says. “And then along the rest of the front you have a sort of courtyard that is almost caged in, but then all these louvres at the front open up.”
“That also acts as fenestration for the western sun in the afternoon so it gives dappled light, so there is a bit of smart in that – not just for the sake of looks.”
Once inside, the restaurant feels a little like its own world. Two bars greet customers, and double as a waiting area for those sticking around to eat. Behind those, the main floor of the venue unfolds and deeper still the open kitchen stretches across the back of the building.
The kitchen is a design highlight, and its visual touch points give diners an insight into the nature of the food they’re eating.
“It’s about dealing with the openness and the theatre of the kitchen,” says Ryan.
“They have a wood grill in the background there – you can see that a little. And we’re showing off the amazing pizza machine and amazing pasta machine and the slicer – all the things we’re really proud of.”
The food and the design, then, work hand in hand – just as they should.