With Stomachs in Melbourne But Hearts in Naples

+39 Pizzeria Toorak

Domenico Papa never imagined working in the hospitality industry full-time. He has a master’s in business administration and only worked in Italy’s hospitality scene to pay off university expenses.

The first time he visited Australia was in 2014, where he travelled and worked 13 different jobs in that first year. Later, he began working at +39 Pizzeria in the city. In March 2016, he +39 Toorak opened, and he jumped ship.

“And since that moment I’ve always been here,” Papa says.

“We quickly discovered there is a difference in demographic compared to the city.” Toorak is residential, there are lots of families and the team have had to adjust to accommodate dietary, cultural and religious requirements.

“But in saying that we are not a fine diner, the name outside makes this very clear,” he explains. “Our core is the pizza – we serve carbs – that’s what we are, and we pay respect to the Italian traditions but with a modern and younger twist.”

When Papa first began working at +39 Toorak, he ran the bar. “I always get this attachment with the drinks and the bar because that’s where I started. That’s what also made me fall in love – as I say – in my first year in Australia – I was bartending.”

Papa is proud of the community that +39 Toorak has created. “We have lots of regulars – lots of families. He recalls meeting couples, learning of their pregnancy and then seeing the baby grow. “We see the first baby walking and the second one is on the way… so we see families grow.”

“That’s the human aspect, it’s definitely something that keeps me working. I think only crazy people work in the hospitality industry. It’s definitely not for the money, definitely not for the prestige,” he says.

Papa describes the obvious focus at +39 Toorak as the pizza. “But in saying that I’m extremely proud of the house-made pasta we do,” he explains.

“We do a nice quality product thanks to the high-quality raw materials we have as the Petra flour,”

Papa says. “It’s a very light flour, it’s not refined, and we tend to keep a very low ratio between flour and water in a way to keep it extremely light.

“You can easily have one pizza here and not feel bloated.”

Papa says that the trust that he feels from the owners, partners, suppliers and all other stakeholders create a nice and energetic environment to work in.

“I’m extremely happy and grateful to Australia for all the opportunities I’ve been given and I’m very, very happy to work here,” he says.