Food and Drink

The Very Best Pizza Places In Melbourne

From old classics to modern twists.

Pepperoni Pizza

Things we’ve learnt through writing this article: if you want a pizza-filled night, head to Carlton. I mean, it shouldn’t be a shock that the area where Lygon Street resides has the highest population of fantastic pizza restaurants. 

From old classics to modern twists, to new and entirely different pizza experiences—these are the best spots to grab a pizza in Melbourne.

Kaprica

Carlton

Kaprica is wine poured into latte glasses, a crackling wood-oven in an open kitchen, Campari served with fresh grapefruit juice with some of the best pizza in Melbourne, all at the edge of Lincoln Square. The pizza is all about the classics done well, and some *healthy* pizzas that are actually so yum. The broccoli pizza is incredible, with chilli, lemon and pecorino. They make all of their dough in-house (for both pasta and pizza), right in front of a huge, rustic, probably handmade pizza oven.
How to order: Kaprica accepts walk-ins or takeaway and bookings via 0447 043 404 or via Uber eats and Deliveroo

Courtesy of Bar Romantica

Bar Romantica

Brunswick East
Bar Romantica has always been known as the late-night bar of Brunswick East, serving up classic cocktails and wood-fired pizza to the wee hours. Post-COVID, their hours have slightly changed, but the pizza still remains some of the best in Melbourne. You can dine in amongst the indoor plants, low-lit lamps and red curved booths, or order takeaway. The pizza dough undergoes a long 48-hour ferment, making it super bouncy and light. The potato pizza with pecorino, blue cheese and rosemary is a must-try.
How to order:  book here, order here

Courtesy of Leonardo’s Pizza Palace

Leonardo’s Pizza Palace

Carlton
Leonardo’s Pizza Palace is the 70s Italian red brick pizza palace we didn’t know we needed. Their slogan is literally “what dreams are made of”, which is both a Lizzie Mcguire reference and completely true. They have some adventurous pizza flavours which totally pay off, like the Ramblr Chinese bolognese pizza and the habanero & carolina reaper pizza—both often sold out favourites. Every pizza is served with a side of ranch, for you to dip your slices in and we gotta say, it’s not very Italiano, but it’s bloody yum.
How to order: book here, order here

Courtesy of SPQR

SPQR

CBD
SPQR is just classic, delicious pizza. Sold by the slice at the front of the venue and by the whole at the back, SPQR wood-oven their crust to perfection, all while pumping great tunes (live DJ style) and pouring a great selection of craft beers and natty euro plonk. On Wednesdays, they open their DJ decks to amateur DJs -of which Melbourne has many—and exchange an hour-long set with a pizza and bottle of vino. You’ve got your classic pepperonis and your margheritas, as well as some fancy flavour combos such as prawns, nduja, basil and olives on the Surf n Turf, and kale, gorgonzola, parmesan and fior di latte on the ill Cavolo. They also offer woodfired gnocchi, antipasti, tiramisu and a nutella pizza.
How to order: order here or via Uber Eats or Deliveroo

D.O.C

Carlton, Albert Park & Mornington
This is true Italian pizza. The base is thin and crispy with a fat, chewy crust, and the toppings are simple and classic. D.O.C have pizzerias in Mornington and Albert Park—with a pizza truck that frequents Mordialloc—however their best and original is on the corner of Drummond and Grattan Street in Carlton. The Italian waiters are loud and unapologetic while somehow still brimming with devilish charm, and you always leave in a better mood than when you arrived. They have daily specials, a great gluten-free base and spritzes for days. The specialise in classic italian combos on pizza like pork and fennel sausage, fresh prosciutto and shaved parmesan, 
How to order: book via OpenTable, order via DoorDash, Uber Eats, or call any of the restaurants for pick up

Courtesy of Capitano

Capitano

Carlton
Believe it or not, the light-filled, art-deco x italo-disco-influenced venue that is Capitano used to be dark, nordic-themed pub The Beaufort. Debuting its transformation in 2018, Capitano has been delivering quality pizza, an extensive wine offering and an excellent cocktail list. Although their specialities revolve around more than just pizza, the pizza is damn good. Deep-dish pizza pie style, these luscious hunks of dough come with a range of toppings, ranging from black pepper, ricotta, pecorino and herb oil to tomato, mozzarella, parmesan, stracciatella and basil. Capitano also does some red hot pasta dishes, snacks and sides.
How to order: book here, order here or call (03) 9134 8555

Courtesy of Pizza Pizza Pizza

Pizza Pizza Pizza

CBD
Go down Meyers Place and look for the neon sign that reads “PIZZA PIZZA PIZZA” and you’ve arrived. Fronted with an original pizza-by-the-slice pizza bar, you’d never guess that behind the black curtain that surely leads to the pizza kitchen, you’ll find an unnamed, hidden cocktail bar. Pizza Pizza Pizza is the gift that keeps on giving, with New-York style pizza slices big enough you need both hands, with stringy cheese to boot. It’s the perfect late-night bite, open on the weekends until 1am. The sling New-York style huge ass (18”) pizzas with classic triple cheese, pepperoni, marinara, troppo (tropical) etc. The dessert pizza is incredible, topped with peach, white chocolate, sliced almonds and vanilla ice cream. They also do croquettes, wings, meatball sliders, garlic bread, a green salad and a chocolate mousse.
How to order: via Uber Eats

Papa Ginos

Carlton
Papa Gino’s is a Lygon Street classic. The pizza is huge, the chianti is cheap and the brick archways are a-plenty. The pizza dough gets thrown in the front window in front of the pizza oven, offering a show to on-lookers. Papa Gino’s opened the same year as the Sydney Opera House—1973—and is still under the original ownership of the Brosca family. If you’re overwhelmed by the euro chaos of Lygon Street just cut the bullshit, and head to Papa Gino’s for an extra large pepperoni. They also serve every italian dish under the sun, from risottos, to pastas, to minestrone to veal steaks.
How to order: via Uber Eats or call 03 9347 5758 for takeaway and bookings

Courtesy of Freddy’s Pizza

Freddy’s Pizza

Windsor
Freddy’s is a little slice of italia on Chapel Street, red checkered tablecloths and all. You’re looking at fresh cannoli, great banter and even better pizza is what you should expect from a trip to Freddy’s Pizza. The pizza dough is left to ferment for 72 hours, making the crust crispy, and the inside soft. And knowing all ingredients are imported from Italy—how can you go wrong? 
How to order: book via OpenTable, order via Uber Eats and Deliveroo

Connie’s

CBD
Connie’s Pizza is another great New York-style pizza joint in Melbourne’s CBD. You may struggle to find Connie’s via Google Maps as it lives inside Heartbreaker Bar—an acclaimed dive bar on the corner of Russell Street and Lonsdale Street. Enter Heartbreaker, walk past the bar, past the pool table and you will arrive at Connie’s Pizza window. Order, pay and wait for your pizza, delivered to you by the slice on white cardboard party plates. 

With one word titles, these pizzas are simple and straightforward. They pick one flavour, and they run with it. There’s Cheese, Pepperoni, Sausage, Sicilian and Mushroom – just to name a few. You can buy it by the whole or by the slice. 
How to order: via Uber Eats or inside Heartbreaker

Courtesy of Thin Slizzy

Thin Slizzy

Collingwood
Thin Slizzy is an amalgamation of rock’n’roll and pizza. Ex-band member of Holy Serpent Scott Pentherby took over Angelo’s Pizza e Cucina in Collingwood and transformed it into a home for rock’n’roll puns, craft tinnies, retro fittings and smashable pizza. Thin Slizzy have great gluten-free, and vegan bases, and a range of pun-intended toppings including the Meatallica, the Smashing Pumpkin and the Brockin’ in the Free World.
How to order: Call 03 8597 4475

Supermaxi

Fitzroy North
Supermaxi is owned by the original chef and co-owner of Ladro, Rita Macali, who arguably started up the whole Melbourne pizza craze in the first place. With that in mind, Supermaxi is a dream. Pizza isn’t the main focus, however, it is a large part of the menu given Macali’s celebrated homemade dough. Their motto is “simple Italian food, done well” and the comfy North Fitzroy restaurant is an inviting/10 place to eat. Pizza is available to eat in or takeaway. Known for their simple Italian toppings, Supermaxi pizzas are beautifully balanced. We’d highly recommend the Boscaiola; mushrooms, porcini and truffle oil, the GTV 105 Series 2; zucchini, cherry tomato, fior di latte, garlic and chilli and the Maxi; pancetta, treccia, parmigiano and radicchio. 
How to order: bookings and takeaway via phone call only (03) 9482 2828

Shawcross

Fitzroy
Open til 4am on Fridays and Saturdays, Shawcross is the late-night New-York style pizza joint, perfect for the final stop on a successful Tinder date. The slices are large and salty and cheesy and located amongst the party centre of Brunswick Street. Shawcross is constantly cooking and slicing so the pizza is always hot and always fresh and they’ll even pay for your pizza if you can eat a 22” guy in 11 minutes or under. Shawcross offer their pizzas in either 12” or 22”. Each pizza has some sort of film, music, or pop culture reference, just to keep you on your toes after a night out on Brunswick Street. They also do amazing takeaway deals, most notably “99 PROBLEMS BUT A PIZZA AIN’T”, which is nine pizzas for $99. Damn.
How to order: via Menulog, Uber Eats, Deliveroo or call (03) 9419 9596

Food and Drink

What We Learned About Fish From Spending An Afternoon With Josh Niland

It’s time to stop putting your fish in water, you’re killing the flavour

fish in coolroom
Photo By Natasha Bazika

“How do you want your fish,” says a fishmonger dressed head to toe in black, to a customer ordering a kilo of Greenback Flounder from Coorong, SA. The customer is unsure of how he wants the fish but asks the fishmonger for advice after telling him what he plans to do with the fish. Immediately the fishmonger knows how to cut the flounder, wraps it in paper, and hands it off to the customer—but not before giving a tip or two on how to cook it. 

“This is how we sell trust and instil confidence,” says Josh Niland who appeared from around the counter, donning his chef whites and a crisp white apron. We’re in Fish Butchery, Niland’s fish shop in Paddington, 20-metres down the road from his two-hatted seafood restaurant, Saint Peter. It’s a humble fish shop that feels luxurious when you walk in. Perhaps, it’s the cased sausages hanging in the front window, or the glass cabinet with one of everything they’re selling that day on display. You won’t find piles of fish or large blue trays of ice with fish lying on top. Everything is in controlled cabinets, including the oysters.

The shop is long and narrow with exposed brick walls, which Niland explains had a previous life as a hair salon. “I never wanted the shop to be uptight, but I did want it to be beautiful, a place you could walk in, order fish and chips, or a piece of fish to cook at home,” says Niland. In the middle of the room, there is a slab of white-marble serving as the backbone. This is where the fish is descaled with what Niland likes to call a ‘beartrap on a stick’. Although some fishmongers wield the beartrap, flinging scales up their arms, others use a knife, slicing the scales in one long strip, resembling snakeskin. 

“The fish here will be used for sushi and sashimi,” Niland explains pointing at the fish being scaled by a knife. “What we’re trying to do here is to get between the scale and the fish, so we can control the texture of the fish and remove moisture from the fish.” 

Removing moisture from the fish is something we don’t see often, but as Niland explains, it is the most important step in preparing the fish. “You know that fishy fish smell you get a waft of walking into a fish market or other fish shop,” Niland asks. I briefly pause to remember smelling nothing when I walked into Fish Butchery, except the faint smell of fries sizzling in the fryer. “Well that’s because moisture gets into the skin, and when that happens water rapidly breaks down into ammonia, resulting in a fishy smell.” It’s another reason Niland often gets lost when a customer asks for a fish that’s not too fishy.

As he explains, fishy fish are only “fishy” because of the way it’s stored and handled. Which explains why the fish scaled with the bear claw are immediately hung, away from moisture. 

descaling fish
Photo By Natasha Bazika

“When the scaler rips up the scale, it leaves an open pocket where the scale used to be. This pocket is quite deep and what usually happens is the fish is washed down then dipped in water. The water sits in that pocket, and after some time creates a fishy smell,” explains Niland. 

This is the core of Niland’s philosophy. Removing moisture from the fish opens up a realm of opportunities that exists beyond the conventional method, according to Niland.

Our next step takes us to the cool room, where rows of gutted fish are hung up on silver hooks as butchers do to meat. They’re not swimming in buckets of ice or water, instead, they are dangling a safe distance from each other, careful not to touch one another. The coolroom is set to an optimal temperature, there is no fan blowing in the room, and only when the fish is ready to be served, then it will be unhooked and dealt with accordingly. 

“Every step from the catching, killing, and preparing is important in achieving flavour,” says Niland who points out a row of garfish in a dry tray. “If you kill a fish properly, there shouldn’t be any lactic acid, which you can tell by the flesh—it looks cooked.” 

So what’s the best way to humanely and effectively kill a fish? According to Niland, brain spike or bleeding the fish keeps the fish from flopping around, building up chemicals that can affect the flavour later on. 

Bringing the attention back to the garfish, Niland explains there are moments when fish tastes better. This tray of Garfish is ready to go, but then Niland points to a hanging coral trout which has until Friday before it’s served on someone’s plate. 

chef showing fish in coolroom
Photo By Natasha Bazika

“This fish arrived today, it’s been scaled and gutted, but it won’t be ready until the end of the week. That’s not the case for all fish though, this tuna I would serve on day 8 or 9,” says Niland. “There’s a point where a fish’s fat is more prominent, which again comes back to removing as much moisture as we can and controlling the handling and environment from day one.”

Niland sources produce from fisherman around Australia and he takes only whatever he can get. 

“I go to the airport to pick up fish once or twice a week from my sources, and I’ll visit the Sydney Fish Market daily to see what they have, but at my shop, I serve whatever I can get my hands on,” explains Niland. “Our customers ask for recommendations so we tell them, King George Whiting is excellent today, and we might offer tips on storing it at home, how to cook it, and if I have a recipe card, I’m more than happy to share.”

As Niland explains it, not everyone knows how to cook a certain fish, and he wants more people to choose an unfamiliar fish, something they haven’t had before or cooked before. The best way to do so is by helping his customers understand the product. “The bottom line is we want people to have a better experience with fish,” says Niland. 

This stays true to his sustainable approach to fishing and his pioneering nose-to-tail eating method for fish. “The global standard is that half goes in the bin, which breaks down to about a 45% fillet yield,” says Niland who remains unaffected after 10-minutes of chatting in the cool room. “For every two fish, we only need one. I use about 95% of the fish.”

We finally leave the coolroom, to approach a small fridge, where fish are being dry-aged, but in a different control to the dry ageing fish in the coolroom. “It’s just another way to experiment with the flavour and natural method of prolonging shelf life,” says Niland. 

“I’m always thinking, how can I articulate the flavour of fish differences between coral trout and snapper.”

cuts of fish
Photo By Natasha Bazika

Niland’s experimentation finds him continually exploring low-temperature storage, probing which fish works best for it, and noting when a fish reaches its sweet spot. More like a mad scientist, Niland is far from a conventional fishmonger, as he dives deep to push boundaries on how seafood is caught, shopped, and cooked whether at home or at Saint Peter. 

One look at his book, The Whole Fish Cookbook, is enough to convince you of his outrageous, funny, and loopy suggestions on what to cook, including coaxing delicious dishes from fish eyeballs. liver and even fish blood. 

If there is anything we can take away from spending an afternoon with Josh Niland, it would be his pioneering penchant for demystifying fish, his care and attention to preparing fish, and his sustainable seafood philosophy, that we hope catches on around the world. 

Niland enjoys the complexity of fish, yet breaks it down for us so that we can enjoy and achieve a perfectly cooked piece of fish at home. His humble approach to seafood is nothing short of inspiring. He wants to change the world, but it’s not going to be easy and you get the sense he knows that, but he continues, one fish at a time, to change how we cook, eat, and look at fish.

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