Since the first pizzeria opened in Melbourne in 1961, the humble pie has held a profound position in the hearts and stomachs of Melbournians. With blistered wood-fire crusts and delicious toppings, the pizzas at these eight restaurants allow anyone with an appetite to momentarily travel to Naples for an authentic taste of Italy.
This article was originally written by Matthew Clark and published on July 2015.
Established by champion pizzaiolo Johnny Di Francesco, 400 Gradi is renowned for its authentic Neapolitan pizzas. The restaurant even claimed the top spot at the 2014 World Pizza Championships for its much-loved Margherita. However, 400 Gradi’s reputation is sustained by much more than pizza with an excellent selection of seafood, pasta, and salumi, not to mention desserts including Cannoli Siciliani and the Fig and Mascarpone Calzone.
Opened in November 2016, Small Print, short for small eco-footprint, is a holistic pizza bar keen on becoming ‘a self-sufficient, zero-waste venue.’ The largely vegetarian menu still includes vegan and gluten-free options as well as a Pimp Your Pizza range of toppings—all of which are organic and sourced locally. Small Print also has a selection of house-made soft drinks and promotes a glass-free zone with all alcohol on tap.
DOC Pizza & Mozzarella Bar, Carlton | Courtesy D.O.C.
With humble beginnings in 1997, Tony Nicolini’s D.O.C. empire now includes an Espresso Bar, Delicatessen, and three pizza and mozzarella bars. With a no-booking policy, queues into the unassuming restaurant is the norm, but the wait is worth it. Thin, crispy crusts support imported Italian ingredients, with a map on the menu pointing to their origins. Culture Trip recommends the Pizza Pomodoro and Pizza San Daniele, but let’s be honest all of their pizzas are downright delicious.
Zero 95, named after the area code of Catania in Sicily, was awarded the 2016 Caputo Cup for their Margherita pizza at the World Pizza Championship in Naples, Italy. Zero 95 features a menu inspired by Nonna’s recipes including an extensive list of pizzas – all of which can be made with a gluten-free base, as well as pasta, and a dessert menu featuring the Zero 95 one-meter Party Pizza with Nutella and fresh strawberries.
Red Sparrow Pizza, Collingwood | Courtesy Red Sparrow
With a pizza menu including Pepperoni, Sausage, and Surf n Turf with beef and prawns, it’s a surprise to learn that Red Sparrow is Melbourne’s first all-vegan pizzeria. In fact, the plant-based pizzas are so good that even the most stubborn carnivores can be converted. Opened in February 2017 on Smith Street, Red Sparrow puts an ethical spin on classic Neapolitan pizzas, and it doesn’t stop there, with a drinks list featuring vegan wines.
Tucked within Liverpool Street is SPQR, a pizzeria that dishes out pies in 60 seconds. Sold by the slice and by the wheel, the range of red and white pizzas are classically Neapolitan with crisp sourdough bases. In addition to pizza, SPQR serves antipasti, a selection of sides and wood-fired gnocchi ‘Of The Day.’ SPQR is also partial to some funky tunes with turntables setting the mood at this effortlessly cool venue.
+39 Pizza, which got its name from the international dialling code for Italy, was opened by six friends with a shared love for Italian cuisine. Located in Little Bourke Street and Malvern Road in Toorak, +39 boasts an enticing menu of pizzas including the V.I.P. (Very Italian Pizza), Tartufata with mushrooms and truffle oil, and the +39 with Berkshire sausage, mascarpone and Prosciutto di Parma. There is also pasta, including the impressive 39-layer lasagne and a mouth-watering dessert menu.
Specialising in wood-fire vegan and gluten-free pizza and pasta, Shop 225 is a suburban pizzeria that has quickly gained a cult following since opening in late 2016. Charred crusts hold a broad range of roll-off-the-tongue toppings including Italian Porcini Mushrooms, homemade Calabrian Sausage, Fior Di Latte, Spicy N’duja and Smoked Scamorza Cheese. Located in Pascoe Vale South, Shop 225 shows that suburban pizzerias can compete with those in prime locations.