Category Archives: Pizza

A visit to the Langhe: for just one night…

Late afternoon in Treiso.
Late afternoon in Treiso.

It has been a busy trip this year with lot’s of stops for just one night. Throw in lunch and dinner with producers and suppliers and it normally means that eating dinner is the last thing you feel like at 8pm.  However as I have mentioned previously, sitting down one on one is by far the best way to work together especially considering Australia and Italy are so far away, so the opportunity to do this is very rare. Most of the time just once a year!!

Pizza at Per Bacco in La Morra
Pizza at Per Bacco in La Morra

After leaving Parma we drove up to La Morra first for lunch and were craving a proper VPN Neapolitan Pizza. The go to Pizza place in the Langhe is Per Bacco in the heart of La Morra and the pizza’s did not let us down. We ate five pizza’s between three of us and they were as good as I have had anywhere outside of Naples.

Old bottles from a cellar in Alba.
Old bottles from a cellar in Alba.

From lunch we headed to Alba where I do a bit of business buying bottles from old cellars. It is always good togo and see what is available from the treasure chest of old Barolo and Barbaresco. Yesterday the cellars were full with many old bottle of Monfortino and Produttori available to buy.

Dinner at La Ciau del Tornavento in Treiso.
Dinner at La Ciau del Tornavento in Treiso.

It is crazy how time flies when you are on the go and before we knew it, it was 8pm and time for dinner at La Ciau del Tornavento in Treiso. This amazing restaurant produces some of the best food in Italy and last night we were not disappointed. At La Ciau we caught up with Paolo Saracco and Massimo Benevelli. Two producers that we represent with pride in Australia. Whilst sales of both these wineries have gone through the roof in the last year (we have just done our first full container between the two wineries!!) I know that they are happy regardless of sales, as it is more about relationships than sales budgets. When I catch up with Paolo and Massimo in Barolo or Barbaresco I know the drill: plenty of fantastic wine and lot’s of food! Last night was exactly that and we did not arrive back to our hotel until close to 1am.

Dinner with Paolo Saracco (centre) and Massimo Bennevelli (right).
Dinner with Paolo Saracco (centre) and Massimo Bennevelli (right).

After just quick stop in the Langhe (less that 24 hours), today we headed in Milano for lunch with our Australian shipping agent (Vito Bonino!!) who has been with us for most of our trip and our Italian contact. More on that later!!

When in Rome…. Pizzarium is a must.


The famous Pizzarium in Via della Meloria, Rome.
The famous Pizzarium in Via della Meloria, Rome.

There is nothing worse than arriving into a city at 2.30pm knowing that you are too late for lunch. Add to the fact that I refuse to eat plane food and normally means ten plus hours without eating a scrap of food.

The solution?

When in Rome, go straight from the airport to Pizzarium which is around ten minutes out of the main centre of Rome. Think awesome Pizza by the slice with unique toppings and washed down with some pretty groovy artisan beers.


We double parked our car out the front the Pizzarium (very Italian thing to do) and ate and drank on our rental bonnet.

For me it was the perfect way to arrive in Roma.

Off to Italy… See you in Roma…

The first thing to do when you arrive in Roma...
The first thing to do when you arrive in Roma…

This afternoon I am off to Italy for my annual buying trip for Mondo Imports. Like every year, this trip is jammed packed. Thousands of kilometers of driving before and after Vinitaly, with lots of producers visits from the middle of Italy to the top.

Discussing the Australian market with a group of Italian wine lovers in Italy.
Discussing the Australian market with a group of Italian wine lovers in Italy.

For those wineries that I cannot physically visit, I will use Vinitaly as an opportunity to see familiar faces and see what is planned for the year ahead. After seeing the wineries we import, we will then use Vinitaly to see what else we can discover.

As per normal, I will post regular updates about what I have been doing and the people we have visited.

When in Napoli: eat the best pizza in the world….


Last night I took my family to L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele in the heart of Naples. They only serve two types of pizza and it has been this way for over one hundred years.

A few months ago I stopped here on my way through for business and it was one of the best pizza’s I have ever eaten. Well last night was on par with my visit a few months ago.

What did we drink? Nastro Azzurro of course!!

L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele
Via Cesare Sersale 1–3 (39/081/553-9204).

From July, Birranova will be available in Australia from @mondoimports….


On my trip to Italy last year to judge at Radici del Sud, I tried some amazing wines, ate some of the best food I have ever eaten and drank artisan beer that blew me away. Well two months ago I returned Puglia and again drank Birranova, an artisan beer from Puglia.

From July, Birranova will be available in Australia from @mondoimports and our first shipment from the brewery just left Italy. It will be priced slightly above beers like Peroni Grand Riserva and I have no doubts that it will be really well received in Australia.

In two weeks I will be back in Puglia and can’t wait to again eat Puglese food, drink Puglese wine and drink beer from Birranova.

Our last stop in Montalcino: a visit to the cellars of Franco Biondi Santi…

The drive way leading to Biondi Santi
The drive way leading to Biondi Santi

Earlier this year, we were ecstatic to be appointed by Franco Biondi Santi as his agent in Australia. Being a traditionalist at heart, I have always admired the wines of Biondi Santi so to be given the opportunity to be representing one of Montalcino’s (and Italy’s) most historically important estates and illustrated to me why I love my job as an importer of Italian wine.

Normally I like to visit a region every second year and this normally means that my annual trip to Italy will either focus on the South or the Central/North of Italy. However, after just a very quick visit to Il Palazzone last year and taking on the responsibility of Biondi Santi in Australia, it was worth a detour this year to spend time visiting both wineries.

The house and cellar of Franco Biondi Santi
The house and cellar of Franco Biondi Santi

However, whilst we were at Vinitaly we received the sad news that Franco Biondi Santi had passed away aged 91. At some stage, we will all leave this world but with his passing the world has lost one of the great men of Italian wine and he will be missed for generations to come.

Our visit to see Franco Biondi Santi was planned a few days after his subsequent death and whilst we were not expecting the winery to be open during this short time after his passing, it was Franco Biondi Santi’s son Jacobo Biondi Santi who lead us through the tasting of the wines and philosophy of the estate.

Inside the winery at Biondi Santi
Inside the winery at Biondi Santi

Whilst Jacobo has his own estate, called  Castello di Montepo in Maremma, he has for the past few years divided his time between his house in Sienna, his own estate in Maremma and also Il Greppo in Montalcino.

It seems that this will continue for the time being and also the the current direction and philosophy of both wineries will continue along their existing path.


After visiting the cellars and talking with the staff, we sat down to try both current vintages and also a back vintage of one of Franco Biondi Santi’s favorite wines, the 1997 Riserva. The wines looked fantastic and we were lucky enough to try the 1997 twice in the space of a week.


After finishing the tasting, we were given a bottle of the 2008 Brunello di Montalcino as a gift and instead of taking this bottle back to us in Australia, we decided to open the bottle on our last night in Rome and celebrate a fantastic two weeks travelling around Italy.


This trip had everything. After starting in Rome, we did Campania (with the highlight being eating a three of the best pizzeria’s in Naples and the world, in the space of a few hours), Puglia, Veneto, Tuscany and then back to Rome. In the space of nine days, we did more than 3000 kilometers and ate and drank more than what I normally do in a month. It was a great trip and it was fantastic experiencing it all with my brother Stefano and amico Matteo.

The hills are alive…


After a fantastic five days in Verona, it is time to head to Tuscany with a quick stop in Florence before we spend the night in Montalcino visiting Il Palazzone and Biondi Santi.

Driving through Valpolicella was amazing yesterday with vineyard aspect and altitude the real key aspects. We spent the afternoon at Dal Forno which was very different to what we expected.


Whilst I am a traditionalist at heart, seeing the workings of Dal Forno really had to he seen to be believed. Does all this futuristic equipment help make them better winemakers, those who like Quinteralli would probably say no. But hey, who are we to argue.

See Naples and die: for Pizza Margherita…..

Over the last six years I have been to all part of Italy at least once and sometimes twice a year. Italy is so diverse and different from region to region and town to town. Once city that has been high on my bucket list is Naples: and for me everyone should visit Naples at least once in their lives.

This year, the opportunity to stay in Naples for one night whilst we visited our Campanian producer Salvatore Molietierri was quickly embraced and last night Stefano, my good friend Matthew Wilson who is travelling with us on this trip and myself set ourselves the feat of eating at Naples top three pizzeria’s. No mean feat considering we had just spent the day from 10am until 5pm with Moliettieri trying many different wines and eating so much food. Not the most ideal preparation for a Naples pizza shakedown but what can you do….


The first stop of Pizzeria da Michele recognised as the best Pizzeria in the world. In the last few years it has seen it’s reputation drop a little as it has been over run by tourists from around the world.


Pizzeria da Michelle does not offer a lot of choice: buy why would you want choice when you are eating the best Pizza in the world?


A constant team of pizzaiolo work the oven and just watching these guys in action was worth the visit to Naples.


And the pizza? The best I have eaten in my life. The texture of the dough and overall taste was unbelievable. We just couldn’t believe how good it was.


Second on our list was Pizzeria Sorbillo which is rated by many pizzaiolo as the best pizzeria in Naples. Our thoughts?


We thought it was good but not up to the level of Pizzeria da Michele. The quality of ingredients was just as good, with the main difference being the texture of the dough.


And the final stop in our Pizza shakedown was Pizzeria Di Matteo. These guys use a Stefano Ferrara oven and the pizzaiolo even has a tattoo on his arm of his oven. Serious dedication I reckon!!


And the pizza? Wow!! Just a smidgen behind Da Michelle and again the taste and texture was incredible. After eating seven pizza’s between three of us in the space of an hour I felt like I was going to explode.

However, you don’t come to Naples every day and for me, this was on my bucket list of things to do when in Italy. So overall an amazing experience and Naples is a fascinating city. Once you look past the dirt and craziness of it is definitely worth a visit. As they say in the movies, ‘see Naples and die’…

Today we are up early again to drive to Puglia for an afternoon tasting and dinner a tour newest South Italian producer, Fatalone. Their wines blew me away last June when I was in Italy for Radici and the wines have just been unloaded into our warehouses in Australia yesterday. They will be available for the trade on the 15th of April. Some of the best expressions of Primativo you will try from Puglia and kick arse Greco that you just can’t stop drinking,