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By Concrete Playground
March 31, 2021
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By Concrete Playground
March 31, 2021
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TWELVE PICKS FOR PIZZA IN MELBOURNE

From giant pepperoni-topped slices to vegan rounds, we've got you covered.

From chewy Neapolitan pizzas to giant five-cheese topped slices and decent gluten-free bases and inventive vegan toppings, Melbourne's pizza stores cover all the variations. Here are our 12 favourites that keep us coming back for stretchy buffalo mozzarella, pillowy dough and perfect toppings.

  • 12

    Brunswick East has always been blessed with late-night joints 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 redone the interior, and produced an exceptional menu and drinks list.

    In a nod to the venue’s history, the kitchen’s kept the classic Pizza Romantica ($18) on there, this time with a little with fior di latte and passata. Otherwise, the menu changes weekly, reflecting seasonal nuances and goodness. Apart from Monday and Tuesday, Bar Romantica is open and serving late each night.

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  • 11

    The folk from Bar Liberty have proved themselves as masters of transformation Capitano, which sits in the Beaufort’s refurbished space and is a wonder to behold. The now light and bright interior features burgundy and cream walls, olive green banquettes, wooden tables and art deco light shades. You can sit up at the bar or down on the tables.

    Come for the pizza. The base is sourdough, fermented for 48 hours, and has just the right amount of chew. Plus, the kitchen doesn’t go overboard on the toppings. Choose from a classic cheese pizza ($20) — to which you could DIY with extras like pickled chilli, mortadella or anchovies — or go for one of the more complex options. The Tomato Pie ($19), for example, is incredibly tasty and deliciously heavy with the garlic. To top it off, there’s an expansive wine list with excellent pours by the glass from Italian winemakers, and more local, but Italian, varieties.

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  • 10

    Pizza and tequila have been brought together at last at southside bar and eatery Chacho’s Windsor. 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 that’s 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 ($21) teams pulled pork, chorizo and pickled red onion with a Mexican mole sauce. Plus, you can amp up your pizza feast every Saturday, with Chacho’s bottomless boozy lunch deal.

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  • 9

    Collingwood’s all-vegan pizzeria Red Sparrow has built its menu around a hefty commitment to top-notch plant-based ingredients. Here, tuck into crafty, vegan riffs on the classics, including the Patatas Bravas with potato, dairy-free parmesan, chipotle aioli and a mock chorizo ($22), and the Mushroom with porcini, caramelised onion, truffle oil and thyme ($22).

    If you’re looking for 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 microherbs ($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).

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  • 8

    Soft lighting and dark features make 400 Gradi (Italian for ‘400 degrees’, the ideal temperature at which pizza should be cooked) the kind of spot that calls you for dinner on a rainy night. You know the kind we mean, too: the type you hanker for in the middle of a dreary Melbourne winter, while dreaming about holidaying in the sunny Mediterranean. Given that owner 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, if you want to mix it up, you’ll find a hefty lineup of other top-notch pizza options. That includes the white-based Porcina, teaming porcini mushrooms with gorgonzola and hot salami ($30), and the Suprema, laden with pumpkin, goat cheese and pine nuts ($27).

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  • 7

    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 American-style spicy pizzas 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 a dinner over the road.

    Pizza options include such creative delights as the Lamb, with braised lamb shoulder, potato and leek ($22), and a riff on the Hawaiian, starring house-smoked ham and rum-soaked pineapple ($20).

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  • 6

    The team at Lazerpig knows its way around a pizza — each crust is carefully prepared and rolled, sprinkled with an epic selection of toppings and fired in the brick oven. In addition to pizza, the Collingwood bar is also renowned for its incredible wine list. Even so, there’s a healthy list of beers and a handful of Italian-inspired cocktails to choose from, too.

    Lazerpig serves up pizzas with both traditional and unconventional toppings. While the Queen Margherita ($21.50) is a stellar classic option, we suggest looking to the sausage-, honey- and jalapeno-topped Ronny J ($26.50) or the garlicky and lemony Mary Had A Little Lamb ($26.50) if you want to try something different.

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  • 5

    Pizza. It’s delicious. It also 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, pizza isn’t all they do well. Owned and run by business and life partners Sean Kierce and Ingrid Langtry, passion is in abundance — just like the food they create.

    The pizza menu is your main port of call. The Badabing with tomato, provolone, pork sausage, oregano, chilli and basil ($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 Sean and Ingrid’s children), which consists of tomato, 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, zucchini and cherry tomato ($25).

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  • 4

    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 slices at $5 a pop, with pies at $32. While these certainly don’t compare to the $1 beauties of New York City, they’re pretty fair prices for the Aussie market and much bigger 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 NY pizza shop. Also on the menu, you’ll find a triple cheese creation (that’s parmesan, mozzarella and bocconcini for ya) and a version of that Aussie favourite: Hawaiian.

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  • 3

    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 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 ($25), or the pork sausage-topped Pizza Salsiccia ($24). Follow up your pizza feed with something sweet and, again, entirely classic — perhaps a bowl of gelato or tiramisu (from $12).

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  • 2

    Nestled down the eastern end of Johnston Street, Abbotsford’s Rita’s Cafeteria 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. Find clever yet considered toppings like the combination of potato, rosemary, taleggio and truffle oil ($24), and the crowd favourite Salty Pig — a fusion of pancetta, mozzarella, chilli, capers and anchovy ($24).

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  • 1

    48h Pizza e Gnocchi Bar’s biggest claim to fame is as the home of Australia’s best pizza, with more than 20 varieties on offer, you’re faced with pretty some tough decisions. The Marinara ($16) keeps 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).

    But, as the name suggests, this eatery has a few more tricks up its sleeve. 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. That translates to a generous range of classic gnocchi dishes, most crafted on gluten-free flour for a lighter, softer finish.

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Top image: Capitano by Kate Shanasy. 

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