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Connie’s Pizza to open at Heartbreaker, Melbourne. “Late night, ate right”

May 10, 2017 Dining No Comments Email Email

Michael Madrusan of Made in the Shade Hospitality (The Everleigh, The Elk Room, Heartbreaker, Navy Strength Ice & The Everleigh Bottling Co.) has chosen a very personal journey for his latest offering, Connie’s Pizza. This latest addition to the family is named after his grandmother (Nonnina) Connie who is not only an incredible cook but also the ultimate Italian matriarch and a huge influence on Michael’s formative years. Her tireless dedication to nourishing her family with not only delicious food, but also a warmth and devotion to those at her table, became the very cornerstone of Michael’s own career values; standards he has carried throughout his professional life and that lie at the very heart of his establishments to this day.

Michael’s passion for pizza evolved during the early days of his bartending career in New York City. He spent two years working in a restaurant in downtown Manhattan, Adrienne’s Pizza owned by NY pizza maestro Nick Angelis. During his time at Milk & Honey and Little Branch, Michael fondly remembers running out on his break to grab a hot slice, a particular favourite in the depths of a New York winter. Whilst worlds away from his Nonnina’s traditional pie, the New York pizza was accessible and addictive – “late night, ate right”.

“Heartbreaker has always been about the late night experience” explains Michael, “being able to fold a slice with one hand and carry on drinking your beer with the other was key, you just can’t do that with the tradition Neapolitan”.

Both The Everleigh and Heartbreaker are built on the exact same foundations: drinks are simple in form yet executed with precision, consideration and above all else warmth. Naturally, Connie’s takes the same approach to pizza as the bars do to the drinking experience. “Like an Everleigh cocktail”, explains Michael, “the recipe is only ready when we can’t take anything else away from the list of ingredients, not when there’s nothing else you can think to add.”

The menu will consist of three types of pizza, the classic Cheese (a ‘Margarita’ or ‘plain’ slice), the Pepperoni and the Sicilian (aka ‘Grandma’ slice – a square-cut, deep-pan pie that sees the cheese and tomato sauce layered in the opposite order). Customers will be able to eat ‘by the slice’ ($5) or ‘by the pie’ ($35) and order at the bar, where they’ll receive a custom guitar pick that they then take to the Connie’s pizza window – eat in or take away, the choice is yours. Chilli, oregano and Parmesan shakers are on-hand to customise your slice to taste. In Connie’s Pizza, Michael has married his Grandmother’s love of cooking, passion for quality ingredients and renowned family recipe with the style of street eating he fell in love with in NYC

Like all things Made in the Shade, the hard work happens behind the scenes in every effort to ensure that the delivery and service remain elegant and effortless, and of course the key to this is research. Michael worked together with chef Ben Sisley, former owner of Ovest restaurant in Footscray and previously of Karen Martini’s restaurant Mr Wolf in St Kilda to perfect the recipes. The research even extended to achieving the perfect pH measurement of the water in order to achieve an identical pH to the water in NYC, an ingredient many New Yorkers consider to be a crucial element of their ‘perfect’ dough.

Just as Nonnina would expect, Connie’s pizzas are made only with the finest ingredients, with the dough made from Caputo flour, topped with San Marzano tomatoes, a special blend of Scamorza bianco mozzarella and pecorino by ‘That’s Amore’ and Istra pepperoni. Also known as the ‘Grandma slice’, the Sicilian is a deep-pan pizza that is cut into a square slice instead of the usual triangle. The Sicilian base is a lot thicker and crunchier than Connie’s Pepperoni and Cheese pizzas and most notably, the cheese is layered onto the dough before the tomato sauce. The pie also requires an entirely different dough and a far more labour intensive proofing process than the regular 18-inch rounds, but the result is two complete different offerings. Connie’s Pizza will open inside Heartbreaker, 234A Russell Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000 from Monday to Thursday from 5pm to 3am, Friday & Saturday from 12pm to 3am and Sunday from 12pm to 1am.

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