Italian born Luca Mochi came to Australia for a holiday in 2004. He fell in love, a three-month trip grew to a year, and now Luca and his wife Josephine live in Sydney with their two children.

As in every Italian, food culture is in Luca’s blood. He’s from Le Marche in Central Italy, a region between the Apennine Mountains and the Adriatic. Luca learnt to cook from his mother, family and friends. He studied to be a pizzaiolo in Fermo, and brings over three decades of experience to La Panchina.

For the Italians, says Luca, the best food is always home made. The essence of La Panchina comes from the Italian phrase, cosa fatta bene: one thing done well. Luca’s main focus is cooking the best Romana style pizza.

La Panchina is nestled into leafy Bourke Street, right next to Arthur Reserve. “It reminds me of Italy,” says Luca.

“When we were living in Grottammare, there was a little neighbourhood pizzeria we used to go to with the kids,” recalls Josephine. “It was so easy and laid back. Luca decided he wanted to create something like that here.”

Luca takes pizza very seriously. Josephine tells me that he changes the dough depending on the weather. “If it’s humid, he’ll go to check on the dough like they’re little babies.”

La Panchina offers simple, beautifully made pizza to Surry Hills. I ask Luca what the secret ingredient is: “Easy,” he says. “The pizza chef.”

La Panchina, Shop 3/496 Bourke St, Surry Hills