Some things in life are worth living for, it often being the small pleasures that give us the most joy. And for foodies, pizza just might be the most perfect food ever invented. For partaking in a slice of what many would classify as heaven, is an experience that invites all the senses – the fresh doughy aroma wafting from the oven, the sight of smooth molten cheese melted to perfection, a glistening browned crust that strikes the perfect balance between crispy and chewy between your fingertips, and the sound of the crunch as you sink your teeth into your first bite.
Such is the gastronomical pull of pizza that certain polls have revealed 35 percent of punters would name their kid “Pizza” in exchange for a lifetime supply and more than six in ten would be likely to “swipe right” for someone who mentioned pizza in their online dating profile. On a more sobering note, 39 percent cited comfort food such as pizza as providing them with something to look forward to in these uncertain times, with 33 percent saying that it offers “stress relief.” If this is anything to go by, and many would agree, the satisfaction and comfort of eating pizza is like nothing else.
Part and parcel of a quintessential pizza experience though, is one that gives you a truly authentic taste of Italy, more specifically, one that is intrinsically connected with the renowned culinary traditions of Napoli, the birthplace of pizza. Which also happens to be the original home of Antonio Crisci and Sergio Maglione of Toto Pizza. Toto Pizza launched in 2019, though it was not so much an inaugural opening as a rekindling of the Italian culinary culture that runs deep through everything Antonio and Sergio do, and like any good story, its history should be shared.
The name Toto has long been synonymous with best-in-show pizza in the city of Auckland. Originally the brainchild of Antonio Crisci, Toto was the first truly authentic Italian restaurant opening its doors in 1993, going from strength to strength serving its superb Italian fare paired with exclusive prestigious wines and the dulcet tones of emerging New Zealand opera artists, before evolving into Toto Pizza under the tutelage of Antonio’s head chef and nephew, Sergio Maglione, who introduced their now-famous pizzas by the metre (or by the kilometre some days). Both Antonio and Sergio went on to focus on their other restaurant projects but their combined experience, passion and history associated with some of the city’s most loved hospitality establishments over the years ended up converging once again on the Toto name with the original founding pair reopening Toto Pizza in Hardinge Street “to create that ‘l’autenticita di Napoli’ in everything they do.”
For lovers of authentic Italian fare, Toto Pizza offers a traditional Italian menu for dine-in, pick-up and delivery, including alongside their famous Toto Pizza by the metre (perfect for six people) and Pizza Mezzo by the half-metre (plenty for three) – Lasagne, Cannelloni and Parmigiana di Melanzane in addition to a delicious selection of small bites including arancini, croquettes, meatballs and frittatine.
For Antonio and Sergio, creating that ‘l’autenticita di Napoli’ at Toto Pizza, aside from “molly-coddling the dough and giving it oodles of love and attention”, is all about maintaining consistency, which means searching every day for better ingredients and continuously honing their techniques. Toto’s mozzarella, for example, is made for them using traditional Italian techniques, their tomatoes are a thinner and more pointy San Marzano variety, whose flavour is stronger, sweeter and less acidic, while the cured meats and other cheeses Toto uses such as the Grana Padana or Parmigiano, all hail from Italy. Theirs is a culture immersed in the tradition of producing only the best pizza and Italian food possible.
Ask any Italian what is important in life, and they are most likely to answer: family, friends and food. Indeed, authentic Italian cuisine has a way of bringing people and families together around ideas, sharing a laugh and strengthening relationships, or simply winding down at the end of a long and hard work week in the company of friends and colleagues. Moreover, it is hard not to be compelled to partake in the match-made-in-heaven that is authentic Italian pizza paired with a beer or a glass of wine, especially post-work on a Friday night. Cue a fresh, crisp wine cutting perfectly through the creaminess of a pizza’s cheesiness or a deep, bassy dark beer balancing out the acidity of a delicious tomato-laden offering.
Italian gastronomy does more than just nourish the body; it is underscored with the unwavering belief that food enjoyed with others is what makes life so sweet. With such impeccable Italian deliciousness as authentic as that which is coming out of Antonio and Sergio’s kitchen, we would say Toto Pizza is good any day of the week.
For your next after-work drinks or get-together with friends, order a pizza from Toto Pizza online now or visit them at 5 Hardinge Street, Auckland CBD.
Top image: Parma Pizza