When pizza chef and baker Paolo Rosina and his pastry chef partner Ilenia Scuderi moved from the Italian small town of Aprilia to Adelaide six years ago, they wanted to bring with them the Italian dishes they most loved.
Now their dream is coming true with renovations underway to create what the couple have dubbed “an artisan pizza and pastry lab” at 70 Henley Beach Road, Mile End.
Focusing on afternoon tea and dinner, Blue Velvet’s menu will have two distinctly different offerings that reflect the experience and skills of Rosina, pizza maker at Antica Pizzeria e Cucina, and Scuderi, who in recent years has specialised in “healthy patisserie” and is a qualified tea sommelier.
The first will be a selection of sweet treats including Italian cakes, biscuits and layered desserts.
Scuderi says the sweets will use local ingredients and include a mix of vegan and gluten-free options such as an Italian vegan sponge cake.
“I’m going to make a tiramisu with a homemade savoiardi biscuits (also known as ladyfingers), using rice flour. So, they’re going to be yummy for everyone and good for people who have a gluten problem,” she says.
Customers can enjoy the pastries on their own or as part of a high tea with a drinks menu featuring 28 organic teas, plus coffee.
An interest in gut health has also influenced Blue Velvet’s other main menu offering: organic stone-flour pizzas.
“We’re going to place [the pizza dough] in our living chamber for at least three days so it has time to ferment, so when you eat it it’s very light. That’s the aim,” Rosina says.
“After it rests for three days you take it out, divide it into little balls and put it in a bucket … once you get to make the pizza it’s ready for your body to be digested.
“Otherwise, if you make the dough and you eat it straight away, all of the processes happen in your stomach. But by doing this, by leaving the dough for three days, the complex dough becomes simple … it’s something I learnt in Rome.”
Rosina is still finalising the pizza toppings but says there will be two sizes to choose from: an 11-inch pizza for one and a larger rectangular pizza designed for two.
“And the pizza oven is not a wood-fired oven. It’s better than wood fired … With a wood-fired oven the pizza doesn’t cook evenly and the temperature is too high,” he says.
“So we opted for this beautiful, expensive, electric oven. It looks exactly like a wood oven – it looks vintage, actually – but it’s electric.
“I went to Sydney in July to try it and it’s like 10 times better than a wood oven.”
Scuderi says a selection of South Australian wine and beer will be offered to accompany the pizzas.
“We love Australia so much. We love the land and want to support the local businesses.”
The restaurant itself has a 1920s-inspired decor, including charcoal painted walls, a dark pressed-metal ceiling, a large chandelier and gold-framed mirrors.
The space is divided into three zones with an open kitchen and bar in the front, a separate main dining room and a third room for functions and high teas.
Scuderi says it will seat about 40 people across a combination of bar seating, booths and tables.
Blue Velvet is scheduled to open in December – keep an eye on the website and Facebook page for updates.
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