A Hawthorn pub that's serving up woodfired pizzas, refined Mediterranean eats and bottomless sangria and tapas.
September 20, 2023
Hawthorn is home to pubs aplenty, but Serafina on the corner of Barkers Road and Church Street is shaking things up.
Unlike a slew of new pubs hitting Melbourne these days that are totally gutting historic buildings to create flash new spaces, the team behind Serafina decided to keep most of the pub's old fixtures when they took over in early 2023.
It's received a good spit and polish, and the kitchen got a proper overhaul by the old owners, but little else was needed to make this into what the team wanted — a neighbourhood pub primarily made for locals.
Serafina is the kind of pub you can spend a long session in — starting with a few beers and some jamon croquettes (ordering these is almost essential) at the bar before hitting up the big sun-drenched courtyard with a spritz in hand. Out here, grab some woodfired pizzas, a bowl of house-made pasta or a very reasonably priced flank steak. We are also big fans of Serafina's house-marinated olives — served with candied mandarins when we last visited.
These eats are already elevated beyond your usual pub grub, but the main dining room takes it a step further. Executive chef and part owner Sam Wills (Meat Market, Land of Plenty and Marnong Estate) is the man running the pass, serving up creative Mediterranean dishes that celebrate great local produce.
Wills was raised in Spain, which is a clear inspiration for the Serafina menu. It changes seasonally, but expect dishes like woodfired scallops with celeriac puree, mushrooms and garum; grilled octopus with lemon myrtle, artichokes, olives and za'atar; and a perfectly tender lamb rump with harissa eggplant, saltbush and deep-fried gnocchi.
The food looks and tastes like any of your favourite fine-diners in the city, but it comes without the hefty price tag. It's also served without any pretension. The servers are friendly and chill. The dining room is simply fitted out with a few wooden tables. And while the food is pretty damn spectacular, it feels honest and like the team is having some good fun in the kitchen. That's all a big win for locals.
As is the small grocer set up at the front of the pub. All wines from the menu are available to take home, plus there are stacks of meats, cheeses and other picnic goodies available. And like any good neighbourhood pub, it's got stacks of specials — from Wednesday steak nights and Thursday poker tournaments to bottomless sangria and tapas on Sundays.
If you're in Hawthorn and after a new local, we suggest you give Serafina a proper go.
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