A striking, handmade Stefano Ferrara brick oven sits pride of place in Lagune Artisan Pizza Co., an intimate new restaurant in the heart of Wamberal. Imported from Naples in Italy, it took six months of planning to have this impressive oven installed, ready to be fired up for opening night in February 2020. And fire-up it did: if the demand for a table is anything to go by, Lagune is the hottest new gourmet pizza place in town.
Inspired by his Italian grandfather Manuel – who owned a woodfired pizzeria in the city of Sao Paulo during the 1970s and ’80s – its owner, Brazilian-born Alex Benedictas, is no stranger to the restaurateur game also having owned an eatery in his hometown. But after living in many different countries and a corporate stint in Sydney, he and his family made their way to the Central Coast chasing a laidback lifestyle and to follow his desire to open a pizzeria.
When it comes to perfecting the art of making pizza, Alex has trained with the best, travelling to Italy to complete an intensive course at Vera Pizza Napoletana, a renowned pizza academy in Naples. Along with his business partner, Cordon Bleu-trained Chef Rey, they have designed a selection of authentic Neapolitan-inspired wood-fired pizzas, made expertly with fresh handmade dough and premium ingredients sourced locally and from Italy. However, given their mixed backgrounds and culinary experiences, they have experimented with some less traditional flavours, too.
The menu options range from traditional Neapolitan styles such as a simple Margherita (Fior di Latte mozzarella and basil) and Capricciosa (Fior di Latte mozzarella, smoked ham, mushrooms, olives, artichoke hearts) to more unique flavours such as the Giardino (zucchini, mushrooms, artichokes, ricotta and truffle oil). There is also a small selection of salads, antipasti and desserts. Bellissimo.
And while the restaurant’s warm vibe and incredible food offering is inspired by an authentic Italian eatery, the restaurant space is intrinsically coastal. Beautifully designed by Sydney architect Melissa Ward and constructed by local firm Zinzan Bespoke Building, the colour scheme reflects the beachside location, from the sapphire blue mosaic tiles of the pizza oven to the fresh white walls and timber accents. As does the name, Lagune, which means ‘lagoons’ in Italian, a nod to the restaurant’s location between Terrigal and Wamberal lagoons.
Open for dinner from Wednesday to Sunday from 5 pm, this is not just another Italian restaurant. The pizzas coming from the brick oven at Lagune are made with passion and expertise, just like fine art.
Lagune Artisan Pizza Co. Shop 2, 80 Ocean View Dr, Wamberal. www.lagune.com.au
WORDS MEGAN ARKINSTALL