|The amazing margherita at Firechief Pizza|
I turned up in Hawthorn on a Saturday night to find the restaurant absolutely packed with punters. It’s a huge barn of a place and it was full of families with an older crowd than you get in the city. Apparently they have had a few complaints from diners about the noise levels in the restaurant which I think tells you something about the demographic. Set in what used to be a garage the place has an industrial feel with a sense of fun provided by the canary yellow steel reinforcing the roof and huge iron and rope chandelier dangling from the ceiling.
|Inside Firechief Pizzeria|
The setting is fairly simple as the focus here is all on the pizza and let me tell you, they take their pizza seriously at Firechief. It’s the latest venue from Paul Mathis who is opening a slew of restaurants in Melbourne this year and in a bid for pizza authenticity he sent head pizza chef Daniel Barrese of to Naples in Italy, to learn the true method of making authentic Napoli pizza from the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. There is quite a cool video from Barrese on Firechief’s blog about his trip to Naples and his pizza making philosophy.
The menu at Firechief includes three types of pizzas reflecting the three ovens that the restaurant uses. Firstly, the pizzas made to the exacting recipe stipulated by the Associazione, secondly modern artisian hand style pizzas cooked in a classic Italian twin deck oven and finally “the great Australian family pizza” where pizzas are cooked in a conveyor oven from Italy.
|Prawn entree at Firechief|
Proving Mathis is no fool when it comes to satisfying the masses, the family pizza section includes rather inauthentic crowd and kid pleasers like Hawaiian and the Aussie. However, after a starter from the specials board of smoky prawns on a mound of fennel puree, MTV and I went straight for the traditional menu.
The pizza was great, cooked in a wood fired oven for 2 minutes at 400 degrees the base was doughy and quite pliant with a great smoky charr from the oven. The classic margherita ($20.50) was a stand out with its simple topping of San Marzano tomatoes all the way from Italy, buffalo mozzarella and basil. The tomato sauce was incredibly sweet and provided a great contrast to the savoury dough. Margherita does not get better than this.
Not quite so traditional but equally delicious, the Friarielli ($24.90) knocked our socks off with its serious chilli kick. The pizza was topped with meaty, flavoursome pork sausage and rapé, an Italian green along with loads of chilli. It was not for the faint hearted, but very moreish.
There’s a limited dessert list with some excellent ice-cream from Jocks ($4.50) and an orange cake ($12) which was lovely and dense but a bit light on citrus flavour. Firechief also does a sweet pizza option for those who just can’t get enough pizza.
Firechief also offers a short wine list but the better option is probably to bring your own given that corkage is only $5 a bottle. I do love a place you can BYO to.
Firechief isn’t a special occasion sort of place and it lacks the atmosphere of some of its inner city competitors but what it does, it does well. It’s great for a casual meal and certainly proved to me that you can indeed find good pizza in the burbs.
Gourmet Chick was a guest of Firechief Pizzeria.
Details: Firechief Pizzeria, 169 Camberwell Rd, Hawthorn East 3123 (Ph: 9831 1700) Open: 12pm – 3pm, 5pm – late.
Damage: Reasonable. Our bill came to $115 for two with wine but on this occasion I did not pay.
Category: BYO, Dinner, Group Dinner, Hawthorn, Italian, Lunch