After being told it would be an hours’ wait for a table, we stood in the doorway deciding where to go instead. You see, it was 9pm and we didn’t want to wait until 10pm for pizza. As luck would have it, while we deliberated where to go next there must have been a cancellation as the maitre’d came barralling up to us and said there was a table available. Baby Pizza had only been open 11 days, and it was clear that Chris Lucas’ latest restaurant was proving just as popular as it’s sister restaurant, Chin Chin.
Inhabiting the old space of Pearl on Church Street Richmond, Baby Pizza seems to be tapping into what Melbourne wants. This no-bookings restaurant is another example of the trend in casual dining. The days of fine dining, white table cloths and stuffy waiters are been taken over by restaurants where waiters are relaxed and friendly, and sharing of meals in encouraged. Baby Pizza is on-trend in every way – fashionably and casually decked-out in neutral colours with the exception of a few neon signs here and there, timber tables with sunken baskets of cutlery and paper napkins enhance the casual feel. A large bar dominates half the restaurant in which cured meats and cacti hang above the bar stools. The open kitchen on display showcased the busy chefs at work (remaining surprisingly calm despite being less than two weeks in).
One side of the menu is devoted to pizzas (all under $20) and the other side covers pastas, meats, salads, sides and desserts. Sticking with the name of the restaurant, we rightfully honed in on the pizzas. The Salumi pizza with fior di latte, prosciutto cotto, spiced sausage, borgo hot salami, pancetta, oregano and san marzano tomatoes was the most dignified take on a ‘meat lovers’ I’ve ever had. The quality of the meat and cheese made this pizza stand out.
The Fior di Zucca pizza with fior di latte, zucchini flowers, chilli, parmesan and fresh mint was made extra special with studs of salty anchovies. The anchovies and the mint gave the pizza edge and this was easily my favourite on the night.
Always a sucker for pizzas with rocket, I ordered the San Daniele Prosciutto with fior di latte, parmigiano, san daniele dop prosciutto, rocket and san marzano tomatoes. What is usually my favourite turned out to be rather bland in comparison to the delicious Salumi and Fior di Zucca.
All the pizzas were erring on the small side but made up for the lack of size with the fillingness of the dough. Instead of having chewy yet crunchy crusts like the pizzas at Ladro in Melbourne, or Franco Manca and Pizza East in London, the bases at Baby Pizza were much more solid and almost ‘dampa’ like with very few of those big ‘air bubbles’ that I love. The wine list has a heavy Italian influence with an impressive selection of cocktails also available. The staff throughout the night were friendly, attentive and knowledgeable (not to mention, cool).
With the flurry of new pizza places opening in Melbourne, my bet is on Baby Pizza. If the first 11 days of a restaurants life is anything to go by, it’s clear that Chris Lucas’ newest venture is here to stay. If you’re willing to wait for a table, want to sample fresh and tasty pizza with other Melbourne foodie lovers, then get yourself down to Church Street Richmond. Oh, and if you can’t get a table for lunch or dinner, they do breakfast from 7am.
Our meal with wine came to $100.
Dish Piglets’ Rating: 7.5/10
631-633 Church Street, Richmond
Tel: (03) 9421 4599