Light crusts, rich tomato bases, fresh toppings: that's amore, pizza-lovers. We've eaten our way around Melbourne to find the best slices; in no particular order, here are ten restaurants worth crossing town for. Still hungry? We can also give you the low-down on Melbourne's best pasta, burgers and dumplings. Prego!
Melbourne's top pizza joints
Capitano is inspired by the Italian-American red sauce restaurants of New York, but it is also undeniably Melbourne. The sourdough pizza base is built with flour from South Australia which has been fermented for 48 hours, the final 12 as cold, rested for 6 and baked in an electric oven, giving it a light, blistered, crunchy, pliable and complex crust.
Our pick: The round tomato pie. (That's right, a pizza without cheese.) Add anchovies.
As winner of the World Pizza Championships, you’d expect 400 Gradi to know what they’re doing. And they do. With the pizza oven cranked up to 400 degrees, the bases are chewy and puffed up around the edges. It’s a beautiful canvas for the ‘Frutti de mare’, where scallops, prawns and mussels unite harmoniously on a tomato base.
Our pick: The Margherita
Expect a queue and charismatic Italian staff at DOC – the flagship to outposts in Albert Park and Mornington. Thin crust pizzas are pumped out promptly: the verdant ‘Salsicca’ is an interesting combination of broccoli mash, mozzarella and sausage. Fresh and perky salads are no afterthought.
Our pick: The San Daniela (prosciutto, mozzarella)
Compass might not be an award-winning pizza joint, but its old-school charm (and prices) makes it the sort of place you'd rely on for a quick takeaway or a mid-week dinner down the road. The menu is classic to its bones, save for a few contemporary touches, like the option of vegan cheese and gluten-free bases.
Our pick: The potato pizza (potato, caramelised onion, rosemary, leek, taleggio)
Don’t dial +39, dial 03 to book a place. Yes it’s loud, but you won’t be doing much talking when these doughy delights hit the table, which boast a particularly beguiling and buttery-tasting base. The ‘sole et luna’ is pure genius: half ham and cheese calzone and half margherita.
Our pick: The Plus 39 (sausage, mascarpone, prosciutto, fior di latte)
The aptly named Pizza Meine Liebe has taken the hearts and bellies of Northcote locals. They top their thin and crispy bases with radical ingredients (broccoli, silverbeet, braised lamb) and use choice ingredients like air cured meats, seasonal vegetables and delicious cheese combos for the ultimate stretch. Local's tip: you can order a pizza from Joe Shoe Store next door if you're after a cocktail.
Our pick: The New Romantic (buffalo mozzarella, anchovies, rocket, truffle oil)
People who go to Kaprica know this pizza as 'Pietro's pizza.' Neapolitan-style bases are simply dressed, cooked to order and served up alongside Melbourne's favourite gnocchi and many varieties of Campari-kissed cocktails.
Our pick: Mario (tomato, mozzarella, red onion, chilli, pancetta, parmesan)
A caped pig for a logo, a boisterous atmosphere and a disco ball — Lazer Pig is a lot of fun. The pizza comes out big with puffy bases (perhaps a little too burnt on some edges) and some quirky combinations. The ‘Prawn Fraser’ has lemony-chilli spiked prawns while the ‘Broc Steady’ keeps the vampires (and possibly your Tinder date) at bay with a heady dose of garlic.
Our pick: The Ronny J (pork and fennel sausage, fior di latte, roast jalapenos, Hurstbridge honey)
According to A25, "Pizza is sexy" and we're certainly not going to argue. Owner Remo Nicolini has pizza running through his veins – his brother Tony Nicolini owns the D.O.C. restaurants. Remo shakes things up a bit by experimenting with alternative flours like kamut and spelt for his base, and toppings are likewise unorthodox with date cream, Italian sausage and licorice dust on the L.S.D. pizza.
Our pick: The Bunga Bunga (tomato, mozzarella, Italian sausage, porcini, parsley, parmesan)
Lucky south-east suburbanites who get to worship at Pizza Religion. While there are the classics – say, a pumpkin and pesto or a mushrooms and taleggio – there are also more curious and unconventional toppings. The chorizo, prawn and chipotle is one such mash-up. And yes, there’s a ham and pineapple for those who bat for Team Pineapple.
Our pick: The Lamb (pulled lamb shoulder, olive tapenade, fetta, oregano)
It’s time to face the brutal truth: pizza by the slice is an enabler. At SPQR, four pizzas offer themselves up by the $5 slice on the kitchen pass like a beautiful guilty conscience. Go on, they whisper… just one. And add a Peroni for a $10 meal deal. At which point it is prudent to accept that your fate is an orgiastic love-in of carbohydrates and cheese, and promise yourself that the activated almond-paleo-superfood diet will begin tomorrow.
Our pick: The cotto (fior di latte, smoked leg ham, mushroom, artichoke and basil)
This is a pizza joint that's been doing god's work every weekend by offering Fitzroy's late-night stragglers with warm slices of pizza past midnight. Open until 3.30am on Friday and Saturday, Shawcross's by-the-slice pizzas are just the right amount of greasy, and there's even a vego/vegan option for the meat-averse. Ask for local favourites like their take on the Margherita dubbed the Fat Tony. Planning a party? Order the 22-inch monster pizza, available in half-and-half.
Our pick: The USA Today (pepperoni, mozzarella, oregano)