Experience authentic Italian pizza at Sorrento Pizzeria in Empire Bay
In the tranquil coastal town of Empire Bay, you'll discover a genuine slice of Italy. Nestled between Ettalong to the south and Avoca just a short drive north, Sorrento Pizzeria stands as one of the Coast's best-kept secrets serving truly authentic pizza.
Upon entering Sorrento Pizzeria, you're welcomed by 100-year-old doors, reminiscent of the Amalfi Coast – offering a glimpse into a true Italian experience that awaits.
Elia Eliopoulou, the owner and operator, embarked on this culinary journey when he opened Sorrento in April 2021, although it wasn't a smooth sail at the start.
“I moved to the Coast in 2015 and co-owned Remy in Co. After about 2 ½ years, I decided I wanted to open my own restaurant, but two months later we went into the first lockdown, putting everything on hold. I eventually opened Sorrento in April 2021. Just five weeks later, it was 'see ya later, get back in your boxes’,” Elia said.
Since then, the pizzeria has been thriving and winning the hearts of locals, with Sorrento Pizzeria standing as the epitome of an authentic Italian dining experience on the Coast.
The star attractions, the pizzas themselves, deserve special mention. The Sorrento Special boasts hand-sliced pepperoni, fior de latte cheese, locally sourced rosemary, chillies from Booker Bay, and honey from the Bearded Honey Maker in Macmasters Beach. Binding it all together is Elia’s grandfather's Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Another standout is the Mushroom & Truffle pizza, a personal favourite of this writer and perhaps the best slice on the coast, featuring truffle paste imported from Italy and mushrooms sourced from Margin's Mushrooms in Woy Woy. Even if you're not a fan of mushrooms, Elia guarantees that this pizza will win your heart.
Elia comes from a lineage of hoteliers and restaurateurs scattered across the globe - his passion for food and hospitality is undeniable.
“My family immigrated to New York, Toronto, and Australia from Italy. My mum, who was 17 at the time, was the only one who came to Australia. I grew up in a deli in Marrickville, and remember dining at Italian institutions such as Napoli in Bocca in Haberfield as a kid.
“When I finished school, I wasn't interested in anything food-related. It wasn't until I moved up the Coast that I decided to go into partnership with the pasta bar.”
Notably, Elia had the privilege of hosting the Queen of Napoli in Bocca and her family, further cementing his dedication to authentic Italian cuisine.
Beyond the locally sourced produce and true Italian flavours, Elia attributes much of his pizzeria's success to the base itself. The pizza dough recipe, tracing back generations in Italy, consists of no more than four ingredients, adhering to the authentic way.
Prepared fresh daily, Sorrento Pizzeria avoids shortcuts, and maintains a gluten-free base that caters to coeliacs, along with a variety of gluten-free and vegan entrees as well as gelato.
Speaking of gelato, Elio's pursuit of perfection led him to an Italian family in Sydney with over 45 years of gelato-making expertise.
The alfresco area, adorned with the traditional blues and yellows of Sorrento and offering views of Empire Bay, serves as the perfect setting for intimate gatherings and larger celebrations alike.
For those fortunate enough to have tried pizzas in Italy, Sorrento Pizzeria in Empire Bay evokes fond memories or, perhaps, even surpasses them.
“We want people who have experienced pizzas in Italy to walk away from Sorrento Pizzeria feeling as if they have just visited Italy.”
Sorrento also has dog-friendly dining, where guests can enjoy a glass of wine and a slice, while the orange sun sets over the bay. Then, the moon hits your eyes – you know the rest.
If you prefer a night in, they also offer takeaway and delivery options. Elia’s recommendation, of course, is to dine in, as he believes the true magic of his pizzas comes when they're served piping hot from the oven.
Elia, accompanied by his family – even his kids make delightful cameos – extends an invitation for you to join their space.
Leaving Sorrento, you're definitely left with a profound sense of passion and genuine care. Elia’s affection for his community and fellow hospitality enthusiasts is nothing short of remarkable.
With only a couple of years in Empire Bay under his flour-dusted apron, his pizzas have achieved a reputation of greatness, and equally renowned is his own genuine warmth and kindness. Elia certainly has created an atmosphere that envelops you in a sense of famiglia. This embodies the essence of a true local legend. Now, that’s amoré!