Firechief Pizzeria

Is there any good pizza to be found in the burbs?  This was the question I put to Twitter as my go to places for pizza in Melbourne, Ladro, Mr Wolf and I Carusi, are all inner Melbourne.  A newly opened pizza place called Firechief Pizzeria replied straight away and said they were serving up the real deal in suburban surrounds of Hawthorn East.  Quick as a whip, the lovely people behind Firechief invited me to visit and try the pizza out. (Note to self: ask questions like this on Twitter more often).

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 Friarielli

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.

Jock’s ice-cream

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.

Orange cake

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.

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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.

Firechief on Urbanspoon


  1. I love the look of the big fluffy crusts! 🙂 And being sent to Naples to learn how to make pizza? Not a bad job perk!

  2. How wonderful is Twitter for this sort of thing?

    We usually trot down to Ladro in Prahran, but I am always looking for a solid pizza place in the general Eastern region. The crust looks divine – glad to know the photos don’t lie!

  3. Dear Cara,

    The margherita does look pretty awesome. Sometimes, the simpler the topping the better it is especially when ingredients are so fresh.

  4. I’ve never heard of organ cake before! And I’m totally having pizza for dinner tonight.

  5. I love the look of the top pizza, yum.

  6. I like a place that will serve you prawns & fennel puree as a starter, followed by an awesome pizza!! London should have somewhere like this… Pizza looks outstanding – like the best I had in NYC. Funny how the simplest toppings are my favourite when the ingredients are all top-notch!

  7. Looking good!!!! I’m also recently taking into consideration suburban love! Can’t wait to try this place!

  8. Ashley – I know tough job hey? I would do it…

    Yasmeen – It’s such a nice community (usually!) I love Ladro in Fitzroy, a firm favourite.

    Chopinand – I agree simple is good to bring out the quality of good produce

    Andi – Hmm I have never had organ cake either – orange though is a favourite! Enjoy your pizza for dinner.

    KB – Yes it was sensational

    Jeanne- I could only compare it to Franco Manco or Pizza East in London. I agree the simpler the topping the better.

    MsIHua – Yes all about the ‘burbs.

  9. OMG yum! It looks a similar to the pizza from Rosso Pomodoro in Balmain.
    Now you’ve gone and given me a hankering for pizza!

  10. The pizza looks great, and the place sounds like it definitely has its own character. Thanks for sharing!

    All the best experience with

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