The Share Plate Guide to... Wollongong and Illawarra Pizzas
We’re obsessed with pizza. Luckily, the Illawarra has a lot to offer. With Wollongong at the centre, there are plenty of great neighbourhood spots to fill the craving – whichever way you like it.
Starting with the spots where you can eat-in:
Kneading Ruby, Wollongong
From the moment you walk into Kneading Ruby through their heavy wooden doors, you know you’ve reached the good place. There’s a constant hum when you eat here and seeing the reactions of people who are sitting down to their garlic bread for the first time is fantastic (if you haven’t been, book immediately, order it, and thank us later). There’s a range of options on the menu but the pizza takes centre stage – quality fresh ingredients are layered on wood fire bases that explode with flavour. Worth going back again and again.
- San Marzano tomatoes, eggplant, fior de latte (fresh mozzarella made from cow’s milk) and confit cherry tomatoes *finger kiss*
Open for lunch midday-3pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday and for dinner 5pm-10pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday, 5pm-11pm on Thursday, 5pm-midnight Friday and Saturday, at 5 Crown Lane, Wollongong.
Cin Cin, Thirroul
The second Giulani family restaurant in the Illawarra (see Il Nido in Balgownie below), Cin Cin is a cosy nook at the entrance to Thirroul. The pizzas are made in an open kitchen with all the prep and cooking done before your eyes – and nose! The smells inside this joint are incredible. Many go here for the cheese wheel pasta, but the amount of take-away pizza boxes that leave the restaurant every weekend are a testament to how good their pizzas are. Light bases wood-fired to perfection with a selection of quality local and imported Italian ingredients – this pizza place has taken over the Illawarra’s northern suburbs with good reason.
- The Patata – with potato, pancetta, spinach, rosemary and extra virgin olive oil – is great, as well as the Jamon Serrano – using spanish prosciutto, rocket, parmigiana and extra virgin olive oil.
Open 5pm-10pm Wednesday and Thursday, 5pm-11.30pm Friday and Saturday and midday-10pm on Sunday at Shop 1, 382-384 Lawrence Hargrave Drive, Thirroul.
Da Orlando, Wollongong
Rennie running the front, Orlando cooking in the back. They don’t call it a restaurant – Da Orlando is a pizza shop, with Orlando’s mum Angela occasionally adding a touch of nonna's love to the cooking. Roman style pizzas are the order of the day, the dough rested for 72 hours leading to a lighter, crispier base. Toppings aren’t overloaded and the flavours are heaven. The service is standout, making you feel at home as soon as you enter, and the Italian family flavour adds to the pizzas, with constantly updated specials that are always delicious – a great excuse to become a regular.
- Check their specials board – not long ago it included a mouth-watering pizza with artichoke puree, proscuitto, buffalo mozarella and fresh rosemary.
Open for lunch midday-2.30pm every day and for dinner 5.30pm-10pm every day at 348 Keira St, Wollongong.
Il Lago, Mount Warrigal
Proof that neighbourhood joints can not just survive but thrive – Il Lago is a mainstay. This little restaurant in a strip mall next to Lake Illawarra is packed most weeknights with regular diners who continually come back for more. The pizzas have a great balance with flavour and depth, split into traditional and gourmet options. And, to be honest, it is ridiculous value for what you get.
- Their prosciutto, pear and gorgonzola with spinach and walnuts might just be the Share Plate team’s favourite local pizza
Open 5.30pm-9pm Wednesdays through Sundays at Shop 2, 19-21 MacKenzie Avenue, Mount Warrigal.
Enzo's Cucina, Woonona
Husband and wife Luke and Brooke opened in late 2018, bringing Enzo’s from south-west Sydney to the Illawarra. Perfect for a family night out, there’s a dedicated kids corner if you’d like to be able to talk during your meal, and the food coming out of the kitchen is top notch. The pizza is full with plenty of topping and the options are traditional enough to satisfy the fussiest of pizza eaters.
- Run with the heavy Italian theme and order a Siciliana – tomato, mozzarella, salami, mushroom, chilli, olives and feta *drool*
Open for lunch 12pm-3pm Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and for dinner from 5pm-10pm every night at 417 Princes Highway, Woonona.
Pizzeria 50, Wollongong
Opening at the start of 2018 on Kembla St in the heart of Wollongong, Pizzeria 50 quickly established itself as a contender for the best pizza in the area. Splitting their menu into red base and bianco (white) base, supported by a great wine list and range of Italian beer, this little restaurant pumps out traditional Neapolitan pizza to great reception. If you happen to not want pizza when you sit down (we won’t judge, but ok) – their gnocchi is out of this world.
- Do we dare to not name a pizza? Look, the fried ricotta doughnuts here are crazy good. Go for the pizza, stay for the doughnuts. Trust us.
Open 5.30pm-9.30pm Wednesdays and Thursdays, 5pm-10pm Fridays and Saturdays at 74 Kembla St, Wollongong.
Il Nido, Balgownie
The OG of the Giulani family restaurants, Il Nido has been serving Illawarra locals for over 40 years. In maybe the most homely setting of all restaurants in the area, you’ll find good service matched by the quality of the food. It isn’t uncommon to see large families here sharing pizzas, and for good reason – they are fantastic. The pizza menu matches their sister restaurant Cin Cin in Thirroul, but the atmosphere is a little more like you’ve just been invited into the Giulani’s house for dinner.
- Try the namesake Il Nido – spinach, ricotta, zuchinni, olives and oregano make for a great Italian farm-style pizza
Open 5.30pm-10.30pm Wednesdays and Thursdays, 5pm-11.30pm Fridays and Saturdays, and midday-10pm on Sundays at Shop 1, 154 Balgownie Rd, Balgownie.
And a couple of our favourite take-away spots:
Vespa Pizzeria, Warilla
The Illawarra doesn’t have deep dish pizza on offer though Vespa might be the closest thing to it – these pizzas are monsters. Packed with flavour without leaving you feeling bloated or greasy, they’re a popular choice down south. This is a pizza place that leaves you feeling like you definitely got your moneys worth - especially when you order the New York size, which may make your table buckle. A reminder too - it’s take away only here.
- Go old school with their pepperoni and prepare yourself. It's loaded.
Optn 5pm-10pm Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, 5pm-10.30pm on Thursday, and 5pm-11pm on Fridays and Saturdays, at Shop 1, 115 Shellharbour Rd Warilla.
Pinocchio's Pizza, Dapto
Now with three stores across the area, Pinocchio's has made a name for itself by serving the local community with reliable, tasty pizzas for years. The Dapto store might be take-away only but then isn't that the best way to eat pizza like this? Plenty of topping on each option means no-one is going hungry and the service is fantastic.
- Go for a pizza with personality - Matt's special is topped with pepperoni, onions, mushrooms, fresh tomatoes, capsicum and olives.
Where can I buy?
Read about more local Illawarra food businesses inside our Illawarra issue - covering restaurants, bars, producers, locally developed apps and social enterprise initiatives from the area! Purchase here:
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