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Want authentic pizza? This hotspot is hard to top

OMG OMETTO: Owner Giuseppe Maviglia in his High Street, Maitland, pizza bar. Pictures: Jonathan CarrollWhile some fast-food pizza chains continue to make moves to diversify their offerings beyond the blistered borders of the humble pie by adding OK-tasting ribs and wings to their menus, an increasing number of pizza-loving people are craving the bona fide smelling, genuine tasting, real thing from the motherland.

Short of building a wood-fired oven in your back yard, there are certainly much easier ways to get your mouth around a perfect isosceles slice.

Discerning Hunter Valley pizza lovers will be pleased to learn that there’s a fantastic little place, down on Maitland’s High Street, that makes authentically delicious wood-fired pizzas the whole family will enjoy.

Ometto Pizza Bar has been open for just over a year, with owner Giuseppe Maviglia bringing a taste of Torino to Maitland and beyond.

Within one of the ornate Victorian-era shop fronts that bring a real sense of history and soul to this old town, Ometto Pizza Bar is a favourite hangout amonglocals, particularly on Sunday nights when live acoustic music soundtracks their meal.

Inside, the walls are painted light olive green and adorned with various things related to Maviglia’s Italian heritage – maps of Italy, painted Ferraris, and the requisite chalk boards writ large with tonight’s specials. Red lampshades hang high above a dining space filled with diners sat upon a few mismatched chairs at spacious tables, with some even featuring a red and white cheque table cloth… perfetto.

From most people’s vantage point, Maviglia and his kitchen team can be seen moving back and forth between the prep-table, where fresh dough is rolled and stretched and spun, with the blazing hot pizza oven burning bright orange in the background.

THE REAL THING: Straight from the wood-fired oven.

The printed menu is a nice little 90s throwback that could easily double as a place mat, it’s that big. The entire Ometto offering, save for the specials, can be found here; meats with marinated olives and schiacciata (pizza crust) to start ($20), or perhaps some dips ($16) with bruschetta ($12), instead. The wood-fired pizzas ($14-$24) are demarcated by the addition of sauce or no sauce – rosse or blanche. Toppings range from the simplicity of a marinara (Italian tomato sauce, garlic and herbs) and the cheesiness of quattro formaggi (four cheese), to the fun of a folded calzone and the signature house pizza featuring mozzarella, mortadella, crushed pistacchios, stracchino cheese, and Calabrian oregano.

The Taleggio e Porcini pizza has shredded brown chunks of earthy scented porcini mushroom swamped by a gooey mass of funky Taleggio and sweet truffle pecorino. Melted cheese deliciously resists division as each slice is slowly pulled apart from the pie. Likewise, delicious, though meatier and a little less cheesy, the San Daniele features a mingle of thinly sliced parmigiana, prosciutto and almost-bitter rocket leaves laid on top of melted mozzarella, which on top of a crunchy, thin and blistered, leopard spotted, wood-fired pizza base.

You can add a salad, if you like. The burratina caprese ($14) is basically a tasty ball of gooey white mozzarella surrounded by wedges of sweet tomato flecked with flakes of oregano that makes for a nice intermediary between slices. It’s not all pizzas, either. There’s thick and chunky lasagne and dolce desserts featuring crispy cannoli ($7.50), vanilla gelato ($4.50), and an all-time after-dinner favourite, the affogato ($8.50); vanilla gelato with a shot of Frangelico and coffee. The perfect pick-me-up after a big, delicious meal.

Most of the menu is take-away. So, if the footy’s on, and you don’t want to dine in – although I strongly suggest you do – you can take Ometto home with you, instead of a steam-filled foil container featuring some OK tasting wings and ribs. The point is that Ometto might just be the best place for pizza in Maitland.

QUICK BITEWhat: Ometto Pizza BarWhere: 489 High St, MaitlandOwner: Giuseppe MavigliaDrinks: Great selection of imported Italian beers, wine, water, soft drinks, and coffee. BYO too.Hours: Tues-Sun: 5pm-Late, Friday lunch: 12pm-2pmVegetarian: YesBottom Line: $75 for two incl. wine (bottle)Do Try: Taleggio e porcini (cheese & mushroom) pizza.

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