Eleven Picks for Pizza in Melbourne
From giant pepperoni-topped slices to vegan rounds, we've got you covered.
February 09, 2022
ELEVEN PICKS FOR PIZZA IN MELBOURNE
From giant pepperoni-topped slices to vegan rounds, we've got you covered.
Friends, it's time to pay your respects to the king of all the food groups: the pizza. That holy fusion of carbs and cheese that's basically impossible not to love and will rarely let you down. Luckily, Melbourne's pizza stores cover all the variations; from chewy Neapolitan pizzas and giant New York-style slices to gut-friendly gluten-free bases and inventive vegan toppings.
Yep, despite your cravings, intolerances and preferences, this city has a top-notch pizza to suit.
Here are our 11 favourites that keep us coming back for stretchy buffalo mozzarella, pillowy dough and perfect toppings. Get out there and enjoy a pizza the action.
Brunswick East has always been blessed with late-night joints aplenty and, following in the footsteps of the shuttered Café Romantica, Bar Romantica is one of them. Current owners Oscar Hermann, Monty Mullooly-Hill, Ravi Thompson, Henry Crawford and Bill Howard have reworked the interior, and produced an exceptional menu and drinks list to match.
In a nod to the venue’s history, the kitchen’s kept the classic Pizza Romantica ($20), this time incorporating a little fior di latte and passata. Otherwise, the menu changes weekly, reflecting seasonal nuances and goodness, though you can always expect premium ingredients like Italian sausage, heirloom zucchini and white anchovies.
The Bar Liberty crew have proved themselves as masters of transformation at Capitano, which sits in the Beaufort’s refurbished space — now, a light, bright neighbourhood diner with olive green banquettes, wooden tables and art deco light shades.
Come for the pizza, both square-shaped and round. The base is sourdough, fermented for 48 hours to give just the right amount of chew. Plus, the kitchen doesn’t go overboard on the toppings. Choose from a classic cheese pizza ($22) or the garlicky Tomato Pie ($19), or go for one of the more complex options; like The Carbonara, starring guanciale, pecorino and an egg yolk ($27). To match, there’s an expansive wine list largely celebrating Italian drops and varieties.
Image: Kate Shanasy
Collingwood’s all-vegan pizzeria has built its menu around a hefty commitment to top-notch plant-based ingredients — and it’s as good as any non-vegan pizza offering you’ll try. Here, tuck into crafty, vegan riffs on the classics, including the Patatas Bravas with potato, dairy-free parmesan, chipotle aioli and mock chorizo ($22), and the Mushroom, featuring a duo of ‘shrooms, caramelised onion, truffle oil and thyme ($23).
If you’re after a pizza that’ll make you feel as healthy as your morning superfood smoothie, look to the Verde, which comes loaded with kale pesto, artichoke, broccolini and pepitas ($23). And there’s always a great excuse to finish with the dessert pizza, decked out with choc hazelnut spread, banana and vegan vanilla ice cream ($12).
Image: Simon Schultz
Nestled down the eastern end of Johnston Street, Rita’s has hit the sweet spot. A beacon of friendly service accentuated by Italian undertones and a classic diner vibe, it’s a charming neighbourhood local you need to know about.
Here, simple, honest fare is executed with the right amounts of nonchalance and passion. Rita’s 13-inch pizzas ($15–25) dare to push the boundaries: the bases are rolled in semolina for extra texture, resulting in a puffy, thick and satisfying crust. They’re game-changing-ly good. Find clever yet considered toppings like the combination of potato, rosemary, taleggio and truffle oil ($24), a cavalo nero and blue cheese situation ($22), and the crowd favourite Salty Pig — a fusion of pancetta, mozzarella, chilli, capers and anchovy ($24).
Soft lighting and dark features make 400 Gradi (Italian for ‘400 degrees’, pizza’s ideal cooking temperature) the kind of spot that calls you for dinner on a rainy night. The type that’ll have you instantly dreaming about holidaying in the sunny Mediterranean, regardless of the weather here. Given that the pizzeria has won multiple awards — including best in Oceania — you can forget about jetting off overseas, though. Clearly, you’ve got the gold standard right on your doorstep.
Here, you’ll find all the classics, alongside a swag of other top-notch pizza options. That includes the white-based Porcina, teaming porcini with gorgonzola and hot salami; a garlic prawn and tomato number; and the combination of ricotta, salami and ham they call the Carnivora.
Image: Kristoffer Paulsen
Pizza and tequila come together at last at this southside bar and eatery. The Chapel Street space is keeping things fresh and fun with a Mexican-inspired pizza offering, an edgy urban fitout and a selection of agave spirits worth crossing town for.
In the kitchen, ex-Lazerpig chef Dan Pegg has turned his pizza prowess to a line of crafty pies made on 12-inch sourdough bases and topped with all manner of non-traditional flavour combinations. The Del Toro ($23) is loaded with caramelised onions, chorizo, corn and jalapeños, then crowned with a nest of corn chips for dipping into guacamole and sour cream, while the Holy Mole(y) ($24) teams pulled pork, chorizo and pickled red onion with a Mexican mole sauce. Plus, you can make your pizza feast a dietary-friendly one, with vegan cheese and gluten-free bases as options.
Melbourne’s north doesn’t have enough late-night wine bars serving oversized slices of pizza. At least, that’s what Sam Peasnell, and business partners Adam Goldblatt and Tom Peasnell thought. They’re the talented trio behind Preston hotspot Dexter Meat & Buns, who followed it up by opening a casual pizza joint directly across the road. The way it works is pretty simple: out front is a takeaway pizza joint where you can order 12-inch pies through a small window, while inside is a fully stocked cocktail and wine bar. It’s the kind of place you can duck in for a quick beer while you wait for your pizza, or roll into for a few kick-ons after dinner.
Pizza options include such creative delights as the Lamb, with braised lamb shoulder on a potato and leek base ($23); a Middle Eastern spiced cauliflower number ($22); a rich combination of pastrami and bone marrow ($22); and a riff on the Hawaiian, starring house-smoked ham and rum-soaked pineapple ($20).
Pizza has a huge spectrum of quality and authenticity. But Ladro, located in both Fitzroy and Prahran, does it well. Really well. And, with a sleek interior, a wood fired oven or two and an Italian Nonna, Zia, making pasta by hand in the kitchen, that’s not all they’re winning at.
If the pizza menu is your main port of call, you might find yourself faced with some tough decisions. The Badabing with tomato, provolone, pork sausage, oregano and chilli ($22) has been a favourite for as long as Ladro has been serving it. Another well-loved option is Scout’s Pizza (affectionately named after one of the owners’ children), which heroes taleggio, caramelised onion, rocket and parmigiano ($21.50). If seafood is your thing try the Gamberi, with its lush topping of lemon-marinated prawns, garlic, chilli and zucchini ($25).
A word so nice they named it thrice. This Melbourne CBD pizza joint does it NYC-style with 18-inch pies and pizza by the slice, selling the latter at $5 a pop, with pies at $32. While these might not compare to the $1 beauties of New York City, they’re pretty fair prices for the Aussie market and much heftier slices than we’re generally used to.
Pizza toppings range from classics like margherita and pepperoni, to a decadent mushroom and truffle oil number that you probably wouldn’t encounter at your corner NYC pizza shop. Also on the menu, you’ll find a triple cheese creation (that’s parmesan, mozzarella and bocconcini for ya), a loaded Veggie Lovers, and a version of that Aussie favourite: Hawaiian.
DOC’s pizza offering falls nothing short of brilliant. Here, achieving the perfect balance means the thin, yeasty, crispy bases aren’t overloaded and are instead artfully presented with delicate toppings.
Simple yet ingenious flavour combinations see the menu comprised of genuine classics and — against Australian tastes — there’s absolutely no pineapple in sight. Beautiful. Opt instead for creations like the Pizza Speck, starring smoked prosciutto, fontina, wild mushroom and thyme ($28), a tiger prawn number ($31) or the pork sausage-topped Pizza Salsiccia ($28). Follow up your pizza feed with something sweet and, again, entirely classic — perhaps the cannoli or tiramisu (from $13).
48h Pizza e Gnocchi Bar’s biggest claim to fame is its recent title as Oceania’s best pizzeria, and with more than 20 varieties on offer, you’re faced with some tough decisions. With two southside outposts, the restaurant’s offering is inspired by the authentic Italian flavours that owners Fabio Biscaldi and Michele Circhirillo grew up with.
The Marinara ($16) and Margherita ($18) keep things classic, or you can opt for everything from fried eggplant and buffalo mozzarella ($26.50) to house-made sausage and king brown mushrooms ($24). There’s even a slew of vegan options, including a three-cheese plant-based number with red onion and walnuts ($24).
Top image: 400 Gradi by Kristoffer Paulsen.