Food and Drink
Posted by Elyse Wurm
24. Oct, 2014
Pizza joints around Melbourne are flipping the lid on pizza’s long-held fast food label as they swap brown, greasy cardboard boxes for crisp, white plates. Nonnas can rejoice that thick crusts, processed ham and yellow grated cheese are out, and wood fired, thin crusts and fresh ingredients are in. Here are some of the best places to sample this old Italian favourite with a bit of Melbourne flair.
They say that you can judge a good restaurant on its ability to do justice to the classics. Considering Johnny Di Francesco, owner of 400 Gradi, won the gong for the world’s best margherita pizza at the World Pizza Championships earlier this year, it seems as though he has passed the test with flying colours. What is even more pleasing is that the pizza lives up to its reputation. It arrives at your table with a paper-thin base and a lovingly rolled thick crust that has bubbled up and charred after its stint in Gradi’s 400°C wood fired oven. A restrained slick of fresh tomato sauce covers the base and imported Italian buffalo mozzarella is strategically placed to ensure each bite contains some oozy cheesy goodness. Each of Gradi’s pizzas pay homage to the Italian mantra of simple ingredients, maximum flavour, so any selection you make is sure you take you straight to Rome. Aside from the margherita, VIP goes to Gradi’s melt-in-your-mouth prosciutto which they import from Parma, Italy, and slice in-house.
99 Lygon Street, East Brunswick
DOC Pizza and Mozzarella Bar
Offspring of the big Italian DOC family, DOC Carlton consider themselves largely responsible for the ‘Pizza Revolution’ in Melbourne. Tables line the small dining room just close enough for comfort, and will make you feel as though you are eating with your extended Italian family. Authenticity rules the roost and their menu pays homage to the delicious simplicity that the Italians are famous for. Classic combinations of ingredients are offered, from the pizza napoletana with San Marzano tomato, mozzarella, anchovy and olive, to the pizza ai porcini with wild mushrooms, truffle oil and mozzarella in bianco. Importing most of their ingredients straight from Italy and showcasing them on thin bases with thick, fluffy crusts, DOC continue to set the benchmark for traditional pizza in Melbourne.
295 Drummond Street, Carlton
Sitting among the unlikely mix of students and business people, Kaprica will serve you rustic, handcrafted pizza with flavour that packs a punch. Make your selection from a handwritten menu that suggests changes are made often, and offers pizza in both small and large sizes. Old favourites dominate the menu, with margherita, prosciutto and mushroom making predictable appearances. If you’re feeling more adventurous, there are some more creative options such as the broccoli, mozzarella, parmigiano and chilli, or the smoked salmon, mascarpone, onion and fish roe. Bases are thin and crusts are crispy, and the pools of mozzarella are large and plentiful underneath a liberal scatter of toppings. The pizza is delivered to your table piping hot within minutes, and if you eat it just as fast then you’ll fool your stomach into thinking it’s got room for one of the tantalising baked treats on display at the counter.
19 Lincoln Square, South Carlton
This is so much more than your humble suburban pizza shop. The menu at Pizza Religion features both jazzed up versions of our favourites and pizzas topped with ingredients typically found in gourmet main meals. In the favourites category you will find the ham pizza (formerly known as the Hawaiian) that is topped with double smoked ham, fior di latte and roasted pineapple. In the main meal category, you will find the beef cheek pizza and the prawn pizza which features plump prawns scattered over a sheet of garden peas and creamy ricotta, finished with a drizzle of salsa verde and just enough chilli to leave your tongue tingling. All Pizza Religion’s pizzas have a paper-thin base and venture into unchartered waters by generously spreading their toppings all the way to the edge of the crust. They also fulfil arguably the most important criterion, which is being structurally sound enough to be eaten with your fingers.
493 Tooronga Road, Hawthorn East
This new kid on the block serves pizza with our waistlines as well as our taste buds in mind. Melt maximises nutrition by taking pizza back to its Naplese roots where quality ingredients are king and dough is made without any oil, fat or sugar. Their menu offers another point of difference as despite offering a few classics such as the hot salami and the Italian sausage, we also have the option of customising our own pizza. This will overjoy the diehard topping modifiers among us, as we are given the power to select any base, protein, cheese, veggies and herbs that our heart desires. All pizzas are then flash-baked for 2 minutes in Melt’s 400°C stone oven, making the thin base crisp and the crust puff up. This quick cooking technique enables Melt to top any healthy pizza we could make at home, to create a nutritious version of the Italian staple that is just as good as the original.
171 Chapel Street, Windsor
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